Welcome Door Flies Open completists, relatives of Indianapolis Colts players, and possibly a Colts fan or two. In this preview, I will share with you the best inside Colts information that an hour of Googling can dig up. However, before we begin the preview proper, let’s look at some of the titles that were considered!
A Selection Of Phrases From Recent Posts That Would Make Good Titles For A 2018 Indianapolis Colts Preview
But Aren’t You Dead?: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
They Exist: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
Game Time Decision: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
They Need To Hope: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
The Goddamn Offensive Line Is A Shitshow: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
He’s Fine: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
No, I’m Not Joking: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
Problematic As Fuck: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts
So Rich, Decadent, Utterly Unhealthy Yet So Insane: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts*
*Sorry, that’s a mistake. That’s from the list for my 2018 preview of Jim Irsay. Let’s get on with it…
Actual Preview of the 2018 Indianapolis Colts With Genuine Imitation Content
There are two big offseason changes that will define the success or failure of the 2018 Colts. QB Andrew Luck is back and presumably healthy, and #Chuckstrong has been set aside in favor of #Frankstrong (in English, this means that Frank Reich has been hired as the new head coach.) If Luck is Luck and Reich is a good coach, little else we discuss here will matter. Likewise, if Luck dies of dysentery or drowns in the river and Reich is in over his head, the Colts might be the first NFL team to go 0-17. No, I don’t know how. I just know they can do it.
That said, I would be remiss if I did not set aside a moment to laugh at the Colts for the way they got played by Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels reportedly agreed to become the Colts’ coach during Super Bowl week, and the Colts were so convinced it was a done deal that they scheduled a press conference and tweeted that McDaniels had been hired. The day before the presser, Belichick and company put the hard sell on McDaniels, he changed his mind, and the Colts had enough egg on their face to make a frittata.
The New Reich
Enter Frank Reich, who held various coaching positions with the Colts from 2006-2011. He became an attractive candidate between McDaniels’ “hiring” and “resignation” by earning a Super Bowl ring as offensive coordinator of the Eagles. The Colts were in a spot, Reich was keen, and frankly, they came out looking better than they had any right to.
It’s difficult to predict what Reich’s offense will look like, as Doug Pederson called the plays in Philly. However, his history suggests a rotation at RB (sorry, Marlon Mack fantasy stans), lots of shifting formations, and a reliance on high-percentage passes. It will be nice to see Andrew Luck in a post-1970s offense (or a post-1870s hairstyle) and provided he’s healthy, I think he will thrive with this coaching staff.
The Prodigal Quarterback
Speaking of Andrew Luck, he’s back! In QB form! By all accounts, he is healthy and ready to go. Nothing we saw in the first preseason game gives me any reason to doubt that, despite the chronic unreliability of the Colts on this matter. It goes without saying that despite the pretty decent play of Jacoby Brissett last season, the Colts are magnitudes better on offense with a healthy Luck on the field.
The offense will be attempting to rebound from a 2017 season that saw them finish 30th in points scored and 31st in yards gained. Luck will have a few weapons at his disposal, namely WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Jack Doyle, but the Colts are not blessed with exceptional talent at the skill positions. All one needs to know is that demonstrably shitty TE Eric Ebron was deemed a “key offseason signing” by Colts blog Stampede Blue. The previously mentioned Marlon Mack will replace Frank Gore as the key ballcarrier, and is tabbed by many for a breakout season. He’ll need one, as the Colts’ offensive line is largely theoretical.
The mostly adequate duo of C Ryan Kelly and LT Anthony Costanzo return, but the OL was pretty, pretty, pretty bad in 2017, leading the NFL in sacks allowed with 56. To his credit, GM Chris Ballard tried like hell to upgrade it. The Colts drafted universally acclaimed guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick, and then added guard Braden Smith in the second round. Noted JAGs Austin Howard and J’Marcus Webb were signed in free agency. However, the early reports have Smith trying to fill the gaping hole that is right tackle, and lots of shuffling along the line.
The Colts got a potential foundational player in the draft in 2017 in the form of S Malik Hooker. However, Hooker tore his ACL and MCL during his impressive rookie year. Fellow safety Clayton Geathers is also recovering from a knee injury, putting the Colts D on the back foot from the start.
A few curious departures don’t help matters. DT Johnathan Hankins was released one year into his 3 year/$10 million contract, and hasn’t been signed by anyone yet, which means he’s probably a secret asshole. Safety Shamarko Thomas was cut this week after having the honor of being the first player ejected under the new helmet rule during the Colts’ preseason win over the Seahawks. Thomas’ release is odd not only because the Colts are thin at safety, but also because every team should want a player named Shamarko.
This was not a good group, and it will likely take a year or two to amass enough talent to make them competitive. A return to form by Hooker is the best thing that could happen for them.
Whether or not the Colts improve on last season’s 4-12 record, it will be a hard slog to make the playoffs, primarily because the AFC South is much better than it has been in recent years. The Jaguars were shockingly good last year, falling one drive (and two awful homer calls) short of the Super Bowl. The Texans will be getting DeShaun Watson and J.J. Watt back. Finally, the Titans have a new coaching staff that seems to understand that the best way to offense is to tailor your scheme to your quarterback’s talents.
Because of the uncertainty around Luck, the Best Case/Worst Case divide for the Colts is quite a wide one.
Best Case: Luck stays healthy and looks like himself, Reich wins over the team, Nelson is all that, and Hooker arrives as a star. No playoffs, though. 9-7
Worst Case: Luck struggles to stay healthy, Reich is not ready for prime time, and the OL is as bad as last year. 3-13
Actual Case: I’m bullish on Luck and Reich. I’m not so bullish on that OL or the health of the defense. I think they show improvement, but it becomes obvious that the talent level is simply not there. 6-10
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