Lets be real: The O Line

Lets be real here and say honestly that this is a pretty talented Colts team. I mean just look at the defense alone, in which the Colts are stacked at defensive back, linebacker and defensive line. Not only are the starters good, but the backups have talent and experience as well. For instance, a player like Melvin Bullitt could be a starter on a lot of other teams and here he is backing up two excellent starters in Bethea and Sanders. Even on offense at the WR position the Colts I think have a ton of talent despite the fact that they lost Marvin Harrison. This receiving corp is better than the one we fielded last year especially if Garcon is coming along as well as we keep hearing. However, there is a big giant black spot on the Colts roster and that is the Offensive line.

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Photo: photos.indystar.com

Now I am a big Colts fan, but many of you know that I don't sugar coat players and performances. When it comes to things like that I am just a football fan and not really a Colts fan because I feel its important to keep an objective point of view on those issues. If I see a player not performing well or a scheme not working I am going to be vocal about it. Last year the Colts Offensive Line struggled and there were no big free agent signings or high round draft picks to correct this. Instead, the Colts signed some little known free agents like Brandon Barnes from the arena league and we spent a 7th round draft pick on Jaimie Thomas. Now these guys may work out, and I hope they do, but they are unproven and therefore it still leaves a number of glaring holes in the offensive line.

Now before I sound negative I think its important to point out that there is some signs of hope and most of that concerns the interior Offensive line. I feel the Colts are very strong here with a healthy Lilja, Saturday, Richards, Pollak and Steve Justice. This is a strong core group of players, but it still has some question marks. Is Lilja 100% healthy? Will Pollak improve on his very sub-par 2008 season? These are serious questions, but the good news is we still have a pro-bowler in Saturday and two good young players in Justice and Richards. I can't help, but feel the interior O-Line has boom or bust written all over it.

Offensive Tackle is another matter because there are some sizable issues here. Last year Diem was dinged up and his performance was average at best. We don't know if he has a long term condition that is bothering him so there is a big question mark regarding how effective we are at RT. At LT Tony Ugoh has been a bit of a disappointment. Now I know Lilja came to Ugoh's defense recently, but the fact remains that Ugoh did not play for a few games last year (he was wretched in the Bears game) and he was not on the injury report which means he was benched due to a lack of performance. Ugoh has been struggling and the Colts are upset that they have spent a 1st and a 2nd round draft pick on a guy that can't stay healthy and has, thus far, failed to develop despite a promising rookie season. He started off strong, but has stagnated recently. Our backups are sub-par as well with Charlie Johnson, Daniel Federkeil, Michael Toudoze and rookie 7th rounder Jaimie Thomas. Some of those guys are "serviceable" but I don't have much faith in any of them to start long term for the Colts in case of an injury to Ugoh or Diem.  I see question marks at LT, RT and in our backups.

Again, I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade here. I think this Colts team is very talented. We have depth and talent at every single position. However, as I outlined above, I have real reservations about this Offensive line. Many of you know my position that I put a lot of stock in the idea that you have to be strong at the "point of attack." This means that the O-Line and the D-Line are the two most valuable positions on any team. If you don't have those then it affects everything else. You could have the best secondary in the world, but they will still be carved up if you have no pass rush with the D-line. You could have the best QB in the world (like say... Peyton Manning), but his effectivness will be limited if he doesn't have time. I firmly believe that the success of the Colts this year completely depends on whether the O-Line develops or not. We have the talent at the other positions, but so much depends on the O-Line. If they struggle the Colts might be in trouble, but if they develop then the Colts will be in a very good position.

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