How do we improve our offensive line and win the AFC South next year?

So we aren't going to win the South this year, and the loss to the Texans stings like hell, but we really need to keep things in perspective as Colts fans. The fact that we were even competing for the division title this late in the season is really a minor miracle in its own right. There would be a ton of positives to take from this season even if we weren't going to make the playoffs. Most likely though, Luck will be in the post season leading this team in an effort to upset some contenders in January, and that is an accomplishment that not many of us fans even considered at the beginning of this season. It's truly remarkable what this team has accomplished this season and I can't wait to see what they are capable of in the years to come.

That brings me to the point of this fan post. If our O-Line had just a few more pieces, I think this team would be a true force in the AFC. If Luck wasn't running for his life on almost every pass, or getting smashed into the turf every other play we probably wouldn't have to come from behind for every win. I know that I'm stating the obvious when I say that our O-line play needs a lot of improvement but, in my mind, its the only area that is really holding us back. Sure, our defense could be a lot better and we could use another weapon on offense, but those are things that this team could over come if Luck had a pocket to step up in, time to pass, and a running game to balance our offense out with.

So what needs to be accomplished this off-season? Here's what I would do if Irsay fired Grigson (who I hope gets Exec. of the year honors) and hired me to run the show in Indy instead:

First, I would resign some of our own guys on the line that are playing on expiring contracts. I think I would resign Justice, Linkenbach, and Shipley for depth purposes, but all 3 guys have proven that they are good enough to step in and play when needed. Add in Satele, McGlynn, and Reitz as guys who are all signed through next season and the depth looks alright as long as we can pick up a couple of starters either through F.A. or the draft. I would cut Olsen immediately after this season, not sure what the team sees in him. Also, my dark horse stud lineman for our Colts is already on the roster! Remember that Ben Ijalana is still a Colt and I really hope that the team doesn't just discard him for being a former Polian pick. He's a former high round pick that has had some very unlucky injury breaks that have put his promising career on hold. Many will argue that he has lost his place on this team due to his inability to stay healthy, but if you look more carefully you will see that he had never missed a game in college due to injury and his injuries as a pro are freak knee injuries that, I think, are behind him. I believe that he could solidify the RG position and possibly the RT spot in the future. We should also resign Pat McAffee and some other role players who have contracts that end next year.

Now it is time to spend some cash on some Free Agents. O-Line being the focus, I would take Andy Levitre and Sebastion Vollmer without hesitation if either of them hit the market. I would also consider Andre Smith, Sam Baker (move to Rt), and Moore (G from the Jets) if they are available. With our cap room and after a playoff appearance we should have our pick of Free Agents this upcoming season. We're an up and coming team with a lot of cash to spend, the future is very bright.

Some other misc. Free Agents I would target would include: 1.) Atlanta CB Brent Grimes, 2.) Philadelphia CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, 3.) Dallas CB Mike Jenkins, 4.) Pittsburgh CB Demarcus Van-Dyke

5.) Baltimore LB Paul Kruger (I would love to see this guy a colt), 6,) Houston DE Connor Barwin, 7.) Kansas City RB Peyton Hillis (probably an unpopular pick but I think he would be great for spelling Ballard. He's also not bad at pass protection, catching, and goal line situations. We probably could get him for cheap as well. I think he'd make an intriguing Colt)

When it comes time for the draft I'd wait to see who falls to us wherever we pick in the 20s and if the value for the players there isn't right, we should trade back and add some more picks. This draft is deep in O-Line (especially interior lineman) and D-Line/ Pass rushers so we can probably get good talent later in the first or early second. Also a guy I love who is falling down mock draft boards is Robert Woods, WR from USC. At one time he was projected to be a top ten overall pick and now most predict he'll fall out of the first round. I think he has a ceiling of a solid number 1 and a floor of a good-great number 2 receiver. If he falls too far, I hope we can find a way to pick him up. Jake Mathews, Taylor Lewan, Chance Warmack, Eric Fisher, Barret Jones are all quality linemen expected to be chosen somewhere in the first round, and I'd be happy with any one of them. Hopefully we can find a quality Safety in the later rounds as well as some other defensive guys, but I am in favor of choosing the overall BPA regardless of what position they play, it always pays out in the end.

So there's a quick take on where the team could be if we have a good off season. At the moment Castonzo is the only sure thing on our Line. If we can pick up 2-3 quality starters to put next to Castonzo, we will put the Texans back in their proper place next season, beneath us in the South. They're going to have to get used to another decade of being second best to the Colts, starting next year!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.

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