The Indianapolis Colts have had offensive line questions and struggles for a number of years, going all the way back to the later years of the Peyton Manning era.
That line is finally starting to get better... hopefully.
The Colts have some very interesting talent and potential up front to work with, and that’s part of what prompted them to make just a few moves along the offensive line this offseason. They signed Brian Schwenke and drafted Zach Banner in the fourth round, but it was far from an overhaul of the unit. That’s because of some of the young talent the Colts have.
Anthony Castonzo is the veteran of the group and is the left tackle, while Jack Mewhort is a very good left guard and Ryan Kelly had a very good rookie season at center last year. Those three are clearly the building blocks of the line going into 2017, and the competition will be on the right side of the line. There, it’s likely that Joe Haeg and Brian Schwenke (and probably Denzelle Good too) will compete at right guard and that Le’Raven Clark and Zach Banner will compete at right tackle. Offensive line coach Joe Philbin has liked what he’s seen so far this offseason from the unit.
“I think they’ve made a lot of strides in things they can control,” Philbin recently told Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen. “Right now, they can’t control how physical they are doing things because we are not at that phase yet. But in terms of the time, the effort put forth to prove themselves physically, whether it’s change of direction, knee bend, physical strength, all those things we forget about, they are definitely making progress.”
The Colts are just wrapping up Phase II of the offseason program, and the offseason workouts don’t really allow a team to have contact and therefore it can be difficult for offensive linemen to truly replicate game-like situations. Rather, they are left to work on a lot of mental aspects of the game and a lot of technique, and that’s what they’ve been working on in the recent weeks and months.
One of the big reasons why the Colts made such a big push last offseason to hire Joe Philbin and were so excited to get him was that they thought Philbin could help develop the younger linemen and help them improve and reach their potential. We already saw a bit of that last year as Le’Raven Clark showed a lot of improvement even from the preseason to the three games he started at the end of the year. The hope is that Clark and others will continue to make that improvement this offseason and into 2017.
The Colts’ offensive line might not be as far away as some think, as they perhaps could have a solid unit sooner rather than later. Much of that depends on the improvement of the younger players up front, however, and that’s where Joe Philbin comes in. So far this offseason, he likes what he’s been seeing.