My 5 Key Guys



Here is my look at the 5 guys who I think are going to make the most difference in the team's success this year. A little preface first though. You will notice that Andrew Luck is not one of the players, nor is Robert Mathis. Those guys are mostly known quantities as far as what they bring to the table for the Colts. Certainly, they are the cornerstones of the team, and I would not suspect success without them along with a number of other established Colts players like Reggie Wayne and Antoine Bethea, but this write up is more focused on players that are either new to the team, or ready to make a breakout. So with that being said, let's get started...

Ahmad Bradshaw - We know what this guy can bring in terms of skill to a team, but did you also know that his toughness and attitude are considered to be the two things that the Giants are most worried about replacing? They believe they can get similar yardage production out of the tandem of David Wilson and Andre Brown, but they know they are losing a player with grit in Bradshaw that is not easily found. Bringing that kind of attitude to our backfield will be great in the No Coast offense, because the run game portion of this scheme is not for the faint of heart. It is smash mouth, power running, and you need a back that can bring that kind of mentality along with great skill. Additionally, we've all by now read or heard that Bradshaw is an excellent pass catcher and blocker, also two things heavily relied on in this offense. Finally, this offense aims to be balanced, but to do so, they simply must be able to establish a respectable run game. Andrew Luck is actually quite amazing at selling the play-action pass, but only if the defense is in a position to actually respect the run game. If not, it just won't have the same effect. We know from past experience, Bradshaw can definitely establish the ground game. So with all the upside that Bradshaw brings, he ends up being so critical because of his injury history. We basically are renting this guy for a year, so we need to get everything we can out of him, and if he can't take the field at times, that will change things dramatically.

Coby Fleener - Fleener's rookie season was far below expectations set by fans, the Colts and Fleener himself I am sure. The off season change to Pep Hamilton will benefit no player more than Fleener. I don't know how many of you got to watch this kid at Stanford, but for those that haven't, here is nice highlight video...

Ultimate Coby Fleener Highlights (2012 Draft 34th Pick - Indianapolis Colts) (via TheVikingsworld2011)

Now, aside from getting some bonus Andrew Luck jollies, there is one thing I want you all to notice in this video. Try to count how many times Luck is rolling out to the right, and Fleener is coming across the field with him. This is a staple play of this offense, and as you can see, Luck and Fleener were deadly with it. Granted, this is against college defenses, but also notice how good his hands are, his speed, and most importantly, his separation and body position to make the catch. I truly believe Fleener is ready to make the step up to elite TE in this league. Dwayne Allen was fantastic last year, though his role was much more traditional as a TE. This offense really exploits Fleener's unique skills, and we should see a huge bump in his production.

Darrius Heyward-Bey - The No Coast offense is predicated on a few very important things...balanced run/pass attack, lots of formations, and the ability to attack you from all over the place. The last statement requires quality play makers at all the offensive skill positions. The more effective all the positions are at being viable targets, the better this offense performs because one of Luck's incredible skills is the ability to read defenses and know where to go with the ball. When he does, he needs the guy that he ends up going to to be able to make the play. Luck spreads the ball around incredibly well because he takes what the defense gives him. He makes those around him catching passes better also for two reasons. One, he throws a very catchable ball. He has been knocked for arm strength in the past by people who simply don't understand the value of touch on a pass. Luck can heave the ball down field as far as anyone I've ever seen, and without all that much effort really. The secret to his success however is that he only throws as hard as he needs to. This makes life much easier for his receivers because they aren't trying to catch balls at bullet speed. Now Luck can throw a rocket into a tight window too (though admittedly, not his greatest strength), but it is his second attribute that usually means he won't have to, and that is anticipation. He anticipates receivers and their routes so well, he can still throw a very catchable ball to them before they are even open, increasing their success rate.

OK, so enough about Luck, why is DHB here? For starters, because we know what we have in Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Those guys are already mostly on the same page as Luck. We also know that DHB has tons of potential, but may have been a victim of a lousy team. That last point is what we need to find out. If DHB can live up to his potential, then that gives Luck more receivers to spread the ball around to, taking pressure off of Wayne and Hilton specifically, and really causing havoc in the secondary because they won't be able to cheat or double team any one player really without the distinct possibility of getting burned. Attack from anywhere...

Josh Chapman - In 2011, I was on record as saying, just watch, Alabama is going to take care of LSU the second time around in the National Championship (I'll leave the debate as to whether or not Alabama should of been there in the first place aside). They were clearly the better team in the first meeting, and lo and behold, I was right. It is no secret that the Crimson Tide defense was the key to the National Championship run, and the anchor of that defense was Josh Chapman. Then of course after the season ended, it was found out that he was playing on an injured knee. His draft stock went down, but the Colts still took a shot on him. Consequently, he missed his entire rookie season on PUP/IR. Now he is back and apparently ready to go. Basically still a rookie, how could he be so important? Well, for starters, as the anchor of that Alabama defense he helped them achieve the #1 ranking in run defense. In case anyone missed it last year, the Colts ranked 29th in run defense. Can one guy make that much difference? It remains to be seen. Being an elite NT means you tie up guys so that your LBs can fill the gaps and get penetration. Therefore, you make your teammates better. I think Chapman possesses this level of ability, and if he can do just that, our run defense will improve greatly. I know I don't want to see Jamal Charles rushing for over 200 yards against us again this year!

Greg Toler - Greg Toler comes to the Colts with a pretty good resume already. Nothing in his 3 seasons played really jumps out at you except for 2 very long INTs for TDs. That shows playmaking ability, which is nice. Noteworthy is that he also missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury. In fact, last year, while he did come back, his season was no where near as good as the season before his injury. He apparently fell to #3 on the depth chart in Arizona, and while solid last year, he wasn't special. So why is he so crucial? The gamble here I believe is that we will get the 2010 version (pre-injury) of Toler. If we do, we will have a legitimate #1 and #2 cover guy in our secondary. We weren't quite as bad against the pass last year as we were against the run (21st defensively against the pass), but still in the bottom half of the league. We saw Vontae Davis grow last year into our system. This year, both Davis and Toler will benefit a lot more from direct coaching from Chuck Pagano and the staff, and I expect them both to grow even more. If Toler is fully healthy this year, I really believe he can get back to 2010 form. Coming back from some of these severe injuries often takes more time than the players are given to be 100%. We don't need superstars at every position, we just need quality guys that can do their job. If the corners can be effective, this let's our pass rushers have a bit more time establishing an attack on the QB, which will lead to more pressure, and hopefully, more sacks, hurries, poor decisions, interceptions, fumbles and mistakes by the opposing offense.

Hope you all enjoyed the read, let me know what you think. Football season is back!!!

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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