Rankings are never easy. No one is ever going to be happy with how their team is ranked, and as fans, we are reactive in nature to anything that seems like a slight. That is why all rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes they just plain do not make sense though, and that is when they require a bit more of a look.
To begin with, the desire of Barnwell’s list is to rank the offensive weapons separate from the quarterback position. It is a hard thing to do, and he says as much at the outset. The problem here is that it is a bit like ranking ammunition without considering the weapon they will be fired out of. Even the finest bullet in the world fired out of a rusted and bent barrel is more than likely blowing up in your face.
Directly below the Colts and listed with them in a tier titled “The rebuilds,” are the Chicago Bears. This is the team that has looked like a complete dumpster fire all offseason, not putting together a coherent draft strategy or seeming to even let their coach know they were drafting Mitchell Trubisky with their first pick. They were ranked 17th and 14th in rushing and passing respectively last season and saw Alshon Jeffrey and Jay Cutler both leave the organization.
At number 24 are the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have had a strange relationship with Tyrod Taylor this offseason. After rumors in February that he would be released, he took a pay cut and looks to be the front runner to start at quarterback. An aging LeSean McCoy still looked good last season but as Barnwell points out he has missed time with injury both years and it is unknown how long he can stay effective at 29. Sammy Watkins is the only other notable member of the offense and ended last season on IR.
This is the company Barnwell has placed the Colts in. While I don’t have access to exactly what his criteria was, I am at a loss to figure out what position he views as the anchor that weighs the team down so heavily. What’s more, there is nothing about the Colts’ young offense that says rebuild. It is a unit that stayed largely the same this offseason.
Remember, this is a Colts team that finished tied for 5th with the Steelers in passing and had the league’s receiving leader in T.Y. Hilton. All of this took place while their franchise passer was dealing with a shoulder at less than 100%. Add to that Donte Moncrief’s struggles with injury and it was an impressive and telling campaign through the air. There is plenty of reason to think the receiving group will be even better this season, as I discussed in my story about the Colts offensive players to watch and my piece on Donte Moncrief.
In the run game, the Colts ranked 23rd in yards. That is not very encouraging, but they do have an offensive line that took significant steps throughout the season in run blocking specifically. That combined with the addition of Marlon Mack seems like it should at the very least hold them at that spot, which would not be enough to drag them so low. Even if Frank Gore regressed, seeing them fall below 25th would be surprising.
The tight end position is one that could be viewed as a weakness on the team as a lot has to go right for them to be very good. Even there Jack Doyle ranked in the top half of all tight ends last season in just about every important stat. While it might be fair to expect him to drop in production, it is unlikely that he would struggle so much as to cause the passing game to plummet.
If you take the 5th ranked passing game which has theoretically improved, and average it with a pessimistic 25th ranked running game, it would place the Colts at 15th, even without truly factoring in Andrew Luck. Oh, by the way, you should definitely factor in Andrew Luck, he is pretty good at football.
This is an absurd exercise to be sure. Eliminating the most important position on the offenses you’re ranking creates issues. Any offensive ranking that can honestly place the Jaguars, the same ones who won only 3 games last season, at number 13 is clearly deeply flawed. Like every offseason, we will look back at rankings like this and laugh at how far off they were. They rarely translate to the field, and a player breaking out or an injury can derail everything.
The one thing this and other rankings like it tells us is that across the board the Colts will be flying under the radar this season. Few expect them to do much. It remains for them to defy those expectations, and luckily we won’t have to wait much longer to see if they can do so.
Where do you think the Colts’ offensive weapons rank? Let us know in the comments.