There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the Indianapolis Colts and what the expectations are for the franchise, and most of it hasn’t been positive.
At best, people seem to think they could win ten (maybe eleven) games, win the AFC South, and make the playoffs. At worst, some think the Colts could wind up with a top ten pick in next year’s draft and a third-place finish in the division. It seems most people lie somewhere in between those two sides, thinking the Colts will be simply average in 2016.
That’s a far cry from where they were at this time last year, as the Colts were a very popular Super Bowl pick. The team had gone all-in toward winning a title and quarterback Andrew Luck was coming off of his best season as a pro. Those Super Bowl hopes turned into a miserable 8-8 season in which the Colts missed the playoffs, however, and that has led to a dramatic reversal in narrative this offseason. Now, the Colts aren't expected to be anything special. Depending on who you ask, they might not even be expected to win their division.
The Colts don’t care, though. Owner Jim Irsay said earlier this offseason that the Colts don’t consider themselves the team to beat in the AFC South, and last week safety Mike Adams said he actually embraces the underdog role.
“I love it,” Adams said. “Just me personally, I’ve always played the underdog role. Right now it looks like the Colts are the underdog, no one is talking about us and that’s a good thing. There’s no pressure. We aren’t worrying about what anyone else is saying, we just to have handle what we have to handle and our goal is to end up in Houston.”
Adams certainly knows what it’s like to play an underdog role. An undrafted free agent in 2004, he has bounced around between four teams in his NFL career, getting a shot to start at times and playing a depth role at others. With the Colts, he has been a Pro Bowl safety in each of the past two seasons, but he's now playing on a team that some consider an underdog.
He’s got a point: with no one expecting the Colts to do much in 2016, they certainly do have the looks of an underdog team. Some still think they will win the division, but many others expect the Texans (or even the Jaguars) to do so. Adams mentioned that the Colts’ goal is to wind up in Houston, the site of this year’s Super Bowl, but in order to get there the Colts will likely have to take the division from the Houston Texans. With a healthy Andrew Luck they’re capable of doing that, and while nobody seems to be talking about that, the Colts are just fine with it.