There is a phenomenon in sports that happens every so often: a player has a good rookie season but takes a step back in year two. This ‘sophomore slump’ has become well-recognized, and there have been some notable examples in recent memory.
But this doesn’t affect all players, and for as many players who take a step back in year two there seem to be just as many players who take a step forward, not to mention those who remain steady. But nonetheless, fans each year wonder whether some of their notable rookies will take a step back the following year, and that’s exactly what SB Nation’s Jeanna Thomas took a look at today - should we expect some of the notable 2016 rookies to experience a sophomore slump?
Thomas did a good job in explaining that this isn’t something that always happens and therefore it doesn’t neccessarily have to happen this year. But I thought it would be interesting to consider whether any Colts seem poised for a sophomore slump in 2017 - and the short answer is no. If you want the longer answer, then keep reading.
When starting a discussion about a potential sophomore slump, we must first consider which players were even good enough as rookies to qualify for taking noticable steps back next year. Most of the Colts players entering their second year wouldn’t even fit in this category. For example, Le’Raven Clark didn’t really play enough last year to be a big sophomore slump candidate - at most, he will disapoint by not developing, but it wouldn’t be a slump after a great rookie season. T.J. Green certainly wasn’t good enough to qualify for a slump after a good rookie campaign, nor was Antonio Morrison. Hassan Ridgeway wasn’t as big of a factor in the defensive line rotation and wasn’t as noticed, so I wouldn’t put him in this category either.
That leaves us with Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg. The latter is probably the most debatable, because Haeg wasn’t that great despite playing in 15 games and starting 14 of them. He had a big role, showed off some potential, and was a young guy, but he wasn’t anything special. Most likely any perceived ‘slump’ by Haeg in 2017 will instead be a return to reality, as in 2016 he was solid but not ‘the answer.’ But we can go ahead and group him into this category if you want.
And then of course Ryan Kelly belongs in this conversation, because he was very good as a rookie. He started all 16 games, didn’t allow a sack, and made a big impact in the run game.
So really, the question of a sophomore slump for the Colts boils down to this: will either Ryan Kelly or Joe Haeg take significant steps backward in 2017? I’d argue that, as best we can tell, the answer is no.
While something unexpected could always happen, there’s nothing to indicate that might be the case. Kelly was the real deal as a rookie and stepped right in very capably, and he wound up being the player that everyone thought he’d be: a very, very solid player in the middle of the line. Most people at the time of the draft expected Kelly to have a long career as a starting center, and he adjusted to the pro level seamlessly. With another year of working with offensive line coach Joe Philbin, Kelly should continue to give the Colts good production as long as he stays healthy.
With Joe Haeg, like I said earlier, I think any perceived slump will come in terms of perception, not his play. I think he can again be a solid player up front for the Colts and the hope is that he’ll keep developing as he works with Philbin, but he’s competing for a starting spot - and appears to be the clear favorite to start at right guard.
Based on what we know of each player and all the information available to us, a sophomore slump for these Colts linemen would come as a surprise. But hey, maybe that’s the point of the sophomore slump in the first place - it’s unexpected. Colts fans should have confidence in Ryan Kelly as the long-term center, however, and Joe Haeg will be an interesting player to watch moving forward too - just like in his rookie season.
Which players are you worried about regarding a potential sophomore slump?
This poll is closed
Both of them
Neither of them