I have been gone quite awhile and have missed out on tons of the well-written articles on SBNation. Meanwhile, I have talked to my relatives who drove from Fort Wayne, IN all the way to Anderson, IN daily to attend Colts training camp, I was happy to get all the information and insight needed. I’m extremely stoked for the 2013-14 NFL season.
I have been looking back at the talent of some of our new Free Agent acquisitions, and a few oft injured players that have missed a decent amount of time that are currently on the roster, I think that if these guys remain healthy all season and beyond; they can help the Colts achieve great success and help bring in a few Super Bowl Championships to Indy. I like what the front office has done these past 2 seasons with identifying team needs and addressing them to the best of their ability. Let’s take a look at the players who can potentially become franchise saviors for the Indianapolis Colts.
Donald Brown: Word is that Brown is being shipped down the depth chart for the likes of Ballard and Bradshaw, while he hasn’t produced well enough to warrant being a 1st Round selection, I can’t apply the "bust" label to a running back who hasn’t had a consistent O-line to run behind since he was drafted. Brown has great speed that can leave defenders in the dust, and can make any play in the backfield. He has reliable hands and his pass protection has gotten better over the past years. Brown is a great asset to Pep Hamilton’s "No Coast Offense". If the O-line finally becomes legit for once this season, Brown can be a major contributor to the Colts having success running the ball. Let’s not count out Donald Brown just yet.
Ben Ijalana: I can understand why the Colts Front Office may have little to no faith in Ijalana’s ability to remain healthy and play a full season; having 2 consecutive ACL tears can make any coaching staff uneasy about any player. Ben Ijalana has tremendous upside and potential, after re-watching the entire 2011 season; I have witnessed the talent this man possesses. He might not have a mean streak but he is strong and pretty quick on his feet for a man his size. My family has said that Ijalana is currently practicing with the 3rd team and looks a bit stiff in his movements and has lost some of his athleticism, it could be a result of the ACL tears or he is just taking it easy in Training Camp. If Ijalana remains healthy this season, not only does he provide great depth on the O-Line but he can also become a reliable starter if one of the starting lineman were to suffer an injury.
Coby Fleener: I remember back in 2012 right before the draft, I correctly predicted that Fleener will fall to the Colts and be re-joined with QB Andrew Luck. Fleener may have been a disappointment for a few fans but the expectations shouldn’t have been been too high for a rookie TE; not only that but Fleener missed games due to injury and WAS NOT utilized right in Bruce Arian’s offensive scheme. Now that his college Offensive Coordinator has been employed by the Indianapolis Colts, I expect Fleener to be a major contributor to the Colts offense and provide a great target for Luck in the Red Zone. Fleener displayed enough upside for me to have faith in his talents beginning with the upcoming season
Griff Whalen: Whalen was one of the most impressive undrafted free agent rookies in 2012, he has hands made out of glue and velcro, runs crisp routes and can easily find holes in a zone defense, his only problem is going against man-to-man cover CBs and beating press coverage off the line. Whalen really reminds me of a slower version of Anthony Gonzales or a more athletic Austin Collie. Whalen did a great job working with backup QBs Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish, if he can develop that much chemistry with the two aforementioned QBs in a matter of months, just imagine how much damage he can do if he takes reps with Andrew Luck and plays in a scheme he is truly familiar with. Whalen has the talent to be a #2 WR in this offense, if he remains healthy; he will show you better than I can tell you.
Pat Angerer: Angerer came out of nowhere in 2011 and just took the NFL by storm, for several weeks he was the leader in tackles and provided great defensive play and added light to one of the darkest seasons ever witnessed by Colts fan all around. 2012 was looking real promising for Angerer until a foot injury sidelined him for a few weeks and in turn caused a major drop off in production. If Angerer can return to his 2011 form, he can be a major asset in the defensive success for the Colts. I think Angerer can get his head wrapped around the new scheme and get coached up properly by Greg Manusky; a very underrated Linebackers coach who has developed LBs like LaVar Arrington, Donnie Edwards, and Patrick Willis while turning mediocre LBs like Antwan Barnes into an above average playmaker; he can also be responsible for the emergence of Jerrell Freeman. If Angerer comes back 100% from his injuries, we should see 100% production from Pat Angerer.
Josh Chapman: I’m very excited for the 2012-13 season, I know I mentioned that already but when you have the change to finally get a good look at NT Josh Chapman, you’ll be excited as well. For those who doesn’t follow SEC football like I do; let me break it down to you: If Chapman goes back to his Alabama days and can play at the NFL level, this man who will be an absolute beast once he overcomes the ACL tear and returns to form. Josh Chapman was the first player I have ever seen continue to play dominant despite having a severe injury. I think Chapman is the missing piece in the 3-4 defense and will be a force to reckoned with years to come. I dare any offensive lineman to challenge Chapman one on one, teams will fare better double teaming him instead.
Vontae Davis: Davis came to the team in 2012 as the premier #1 CB, while he didn’t have any training camp or pre-season to really get a full grasp of the defensive scheme and injuries kept him out of the lineup for several games, he came back later in the season and displayed great coverage skills and even gave an elite WR like Andre Johnson a run for his money in both match-ups. Now that Chuck Pagano is back after bitch-slapping cancer in the face, he will make Davis a much better CB and hopefully turn Davis and Toler both as one of the best CB tandems in the NFL. I have high expectations for Davis this season, if he shows his true potential; our defense will be destined for greatness and that will help us with a Super Bowl victory.
Ricky Jean-Francois: RJF was one of my favorite free agent signing this off-season. After losing the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, this will be a man on a mission; a player with blood on his mind, he will want to get a ring sometime in the future. RJF was stuck behind a very talented D-Line in San Francisco but still managed to break the lineup every now and then. Now this will be his chance to shine, I think RJF will be the player that will take the NFL by storm similar to what Jerrell Freeman did in 2012. He will be a complimentary player to Chapman, Redding, and Franklin; I really can’t see wait to see him on the field as a Colt.
LaRon Landry: Like teammate RJF, I was happy when the Colts inked Landry to play in the secondary. Landry is a very huge upgrade over the last few safeties we had like Melvin Bullitt, David Caldwell, Joe Lefeged, and Tom Zbikowski. He brings a very menacing presence to the Colts backfield unit similar to what former Colts safety Bob Sanders provided. Landry should make things easier for FS Antoine Bethea; a guy who was forced to do everything from playing in the box for run support to providing coverage and backup security for our under performing CB corps. He will be a great asset to the Colts defense if he can remain healthy throughout his Colts career and learn how to do a thing called coverage.
Greg Toler: I think I will be paying attention to how well Toler progresses under Head Coach Chuck Pagano. Toler was a 4th Round selection in the same CB draft class (2009) as teammates Vontae Davis and Darius Butler, but Toler was a small school prospect coming from St Paul’s College who played in the Division II of the NCAA. Despite his small school status, he was a shut down CB at the DII level and had great size and displayed great measurables at the Combine. If Toler can remain healthy as a Colt and display that shutdown ability he had in college, him along with fellow CB Vontae Davis can turn into a shutdown CB tandem and greatly help the Colts return to a NFL powerhouse.