As most people know by now, the Colts ended a season full of 4th quarter successes with (ironically) a fourth quarter fail. After playing a tough game with the Patriots and having the ball needing to score just a touchdown, the Colts went on a quick third and out giving the ball back to the Patriots. The defense, which had just had an impressive stand against the run on their previous outing, gave a hole to LeGarrett Blount who ran for over 50 yards for the score. Having a little over 10 minutes left the comeback kids were only down by two touchdowns, easy right? Wrong, on the pursuing drive, Andrew Luck threw his third interception of the game, which matched him with three interceptions against the Patriots just like he was the previous week against the Chiefs, and also threw away the momentum they had built up. Patriots would eventually go up by three touchdowns, and to put an exclamation point on how bad the fourth quarter was, Andrew Luck threw one more interception.
All that being said, looking ahead to next season, based on this season, here are 5 reasons for Colts' fans to hope August hurries here.
5. Andrew Luck can only get better
During the last off season, people were afraid that after a monumental rookie season, which involved records being made, Andrew Luck would regress and along with him, the Colts. Everyone believed that even to sustain his level of performance was near impossible, how does Andrew respond? Andrew Luck responded with having a better season than the first, and just how good you might ask? I could throw a whole bunch of stats and percentages at you which would take a page to explain, so let's sum it up with...he had another record setting season.
4. Players such as Reggie Wayne and Ahmad Bradshaw will be returning from injury
Everyone will now be wondering, what could have been if Reggie Wayne and his injured brethren could have been able enough to play in the playoffs. Could the Colts be on their way to a conference championship? Could the Colts have won some more games at the end of the season to earn a first round bye? Colts fans will just have to wonder and come to their own conclusions on that one. I personally believe that if players such as Wayne and Bradshaw could have stayed healthy, then they could be on their way to the championship game next weekend. Luck had good receivers in T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill, and Griff Whalen, he also had a good receiving tight end in Coby Fleener. Now imagine having Reggie Wayne along with those receivers that is a strong receiving core which gives Andrew Luck a handful of options to throw to. Next season now looks quite promising for the Colts in regard to the passing game.
3. The Colts' coaches and staff know what they needed to address in the draft
After suffering an injury, Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck's go-to receiver, was out for the rest of the season, it showed just how much veterans in the NFL can mean to teams. The Colts are actually lucky they found such a great receiver who was willing to take on Reggie Wayne's role on offense in T.Y. Hilton. Even though they had T.Y. step up and then the rest of the receiving core coming together right before the playoffs, they still need to draft a top prospect receiver, the only problem, the Colts have no first round pick. If you recall, the Colts traded away their first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson (who I personally will be better next season, if this list had been six reasons to look forward to next season, he would have been sixth) so they will have to wait until the second round to try and pick up a good solid receiver. If I was part of the higher powers for the Colts who get to decide what the priorities are for the draft, the offensive and defensive line must be addressed. Both sides of the ball need work as far as the line goes, but you are trying to be an offensive team, so offensive line first. Luck wasn't knocked down or sacked quite as much as last year, but it was still a lot for a team who is trying to keep a franchise quarterback uninjured. Just imagine if the Colts didn't have a nice strong quarterback who is hard to bring down like Luck, what if they had a Drew Brees type quarterback who can wiggle his way out of sacks, but isn't as tall or strong as an Andrew Luck or Ben Roethlisberger. I know I said the D-line needed to be addressed, which it does, but honestly besides Robert Mathis this defensive squad needs to be revamped. I know that they showed glimpses where they seemed like they were on the right path but they have had too many teams score over 24 points on them, but you can't fix every single problem in on off season so look for this defense to be better, but not where it needs to be by the time next regular season rolls around.
2. Some big name players are going to go into free agency
This is the shortest of all the sections. I'm simply looking at one big name as of right now, Hakeem Nicks. I believe he could fit very well in the Colts' passing style and could prove to be that other receiver the Colts need instead of drafting a wide receiver in this year's draft. Also, with the Colts' general manager being the way he is, Nicks is a prime target of his to pick up for a reasonable free agent price.
1. The regular season will be tougher, but more beneficial
Next year's schedule for the Colts:
Home Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington,
Away Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, NY Giants, Denver
Looking at this schedule, the Colts will have to be on their A game for at least 3 or 4 games, but then assuming one of those teams that are supposed to be easy wins beats them, I see the Colts finishing with at least 10 wins which will be enough to make the playoffs, but not to get the allusive first round bye. This schedule features four teams that made the playoffs this year which means, they will be playing high caliber competition. Looking at this schedule and comparing it to this past season, you will see we don't have to play Seattle or San Francisco, but of those four playoff teams I mentioned, three were from the AFC meaning we would have to play them before Seattle or San Francisco in the playoffs, so in my mind it makes the regular season harder by having to face all but two of this year's AFC playoff teams.
That is my top five reasons to look forward to next season, comment with your thoughts and opinions and don't forget to click the little star button thingy and while you're up there go ahead and share it. If you have a certain topic you would like me to write about or you have anything that you believe will benefit me as a writer, go ahead and shoot me an email and I'll be sure to respond ASAP. Just click on my profile and my email should be there. With some food for thought, this is Hunter Robinson saying farewell, until next time.