Indy's miserable preseason is over, and if you listened to Colts Friday Night, you received a very rare, very genuine apology from Colts President Bill Polian. Why did he apologize?
Because the preseason sucked, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Polian apologized to the fans for the dreadful showing of the offense in preseason, saying it was a direct result of the Colts playing five preseason games. He stated, in no uncertain terms, that the Colts will not agree to five preseason games ever again as long as he is president. Polian also praised Indy fans for turning out during preseason (despite the horrid display by the team).
As grumpy and prickly Polian sometimes is, he does genuinely care about fans. And he cares about the product on the field.
What we measure Bill Polian by is his ability to develop the Colts roster into a contender, and throughout his tenure with Indy, he has excelled at that. This year, our blog community had some serious questions about the roster heading into training camp and the preseason. Now that both camp and preseason are over, we now have answers to those questions (flip over for more).
Is Marvin Harrison healthy, and is there depth at WR this year?
Last year, the Colts had terrible depth at WR. When Anthony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison went down, we were tortured by the likes of Aaron Moorehead. This year, the Colts have tremendous depth at WR; maybe the deepest in football. Marvin Harrison is 100% healthy and looks like the Marvin of two or three years ago. Gonzo looks like he is ready to add onto his impressive rookie season, and Reggie Wayne made a case last year that he was a top 5 WR. Factor those together, and the Colts have (arguably) the best trio of receivers in football. Depth behind them is also strong. We talked all training camp about the Colts possibly carrying 6 WRs. With Courtney Roby now firmly entrenched as the KR (more on this later), it is a very strong possibility Indy carries 6 WRs. Pierre Garcon, Devin Aromashodu, and Roy Hall all impressed during camp and preseason. Sadly, the way it is looking right now is Aromashodu might get cut even though he has has practiced and played outstanding.
Can the Colts rush the passer?
Barring any sort of catastrophy, the Colts should be much improved at rushing the QB. Bill Polian learned his lesson from 2007: You can't just have two pass rushers. Marcus Howard has looked impressive all preseason, and players like Curtis Johnson have also stepped up. Though somewhat meaningless, the Colts had 11 sacks in preseason, but more than that we saw consistent pressure on the opponent's QBs. With Dwight Freeney healthy, the Colts now have a nice stable of pass rushers. And who knows. With Rosevelt Colvin getting his ass cut from the Texans, maybe Indy will consider giving him a shot (and maybe this time, he won't be an idiot and pass them up).
Did Indy find a "dynamic" return threat?
Yes, they did. And he's a local product, having played Indiana high school football and graduating from IU. Courtney Roby, drafted by the Titans a few years ago, has cemented his spot on the roster as the primary kick and punt returner. While T.J. Rushing did have a strong camp and preseason, his unfortunate injury paved the way for Roby, who would have been cut had Rushing not gotten hurt. Pierre Garcon has also shown some flashes, but he has an annoying tendency to get too excited and muff kicks. Regardless, it seems the kick and punt returning options have been upgraded. This should lead to better starting field position and, hopefully, some timely special teams TDs for the Colts.
Who is playing behind Joseph Addai?
Signing Dominic Rhodes was a rather significant free agency move by Bill Polian. Rhodes has looked good, and his understanding of the offense will spell Addai valuable time. Added into the mix is the surprisingly fast Mike Hart, who Colts coaches have raved over, especially his intelligence. Hart picked up the offense faster than most other rookies, and rarely has he made a mistake. Rhodes and Hart spell the end of Kenton Keith in Indy, who has done nothing in preseason but drop passes and play mediocre football.
Is there now, finally, some depth on the offensive line?
Yes, and it will get tested early. Jeff Saturday, Ryan Lilja, and Mike Pollak will all be out for the Bears game. Look for Lilja to get placed on the PUP, and Saturday won't be back until Week 6 or 7 after straining his MCL. But the Colts did a brilliant job finding depth, particularly on the interior. Steve Justice and Jamey Richard can both play center. Charlie Johnson has looked solid at OG, and Dan Federkeil has impressed playing both OT and OG. Howard Mudd has a great young group of players to coach, and, despite the injuries, the prevailing feeling is thing are ok on the o-line for Indy.
Does Indy have a special teams "ace" who can get these coverage units looking like something worthy of "professional" football?
It looks as if they have, and he was on the roster last year. Darrell Reid is making a name for himself as a special teams player, hitting people and blowing up wedges with violent authority. He is also a high energy player, a vital component for any special teams unit. The proof has been in how the coverage units have looked in preseason. THEY'VE BEEN MARVELOUS! I've never seen special teams look so good in Indy under Tony Dungy. Lots of players have stepped up and made it their goal to pull this area up from its #32 ranking. Even longtime vets like Adam Vinatieri worked like a maniac in the gym, getting himself in the best shape of his life. Now, his kickoffs boom nearly out the back of the endzone. So far, if preseason is a judge, this is the most improved area for the Colts. And if special teams is a strength for this team, there is absolutely no stopping Indy.
So, there you have it. Even with the injuries, the crappy play of the back-up QBs, and the general uncertainty of the preseason, the Colts are actually pretty primed and ready to kick ass in 2008. We'll see who makes it through today's cuts, but regardless this roster looks strong and ready to win football games.