Look, I get it, without Andrew Luck at quarterback, the Colts aren’t going to win very many football games. There is no arguing that it is reasonable for the Colts to be underdogs at home against the Browns and that opponents likely will be favored in every game the Colts play until Luck returns.
Where they’re wrong is in how they present this reality. They act like the Colts are devoid of any talent outside of Luck. They talk like every other part of the roster could be blown up and swapped out and there would be no difference.
There are a number of issues facing the Colts in 2017 but lacking talent is not one of them at a lot of positions. Sure, having a lot of rookies contribute will result in early growing pains. Injuries certainly will strip a team of its best talent — ask Cardinals fans about how they felt about missing two starting offensive linemen, the best running back in football, and one of their most dynamic receivers last week.
The reality is, there is a lot of talent on this Colts football team and there is a great deal of potential for that talent to come together in both the short and long-term future.
Rookies Nate Hairston, Quincy Wilson, and Malik Hooker haven’t dominated during their first two NFL games but they’ve definitely showed potential and defended their opportunity to continue to take starting reps. The offensive line shuffled a lot over the summer, and the first game stole the team of its starting right tackle. The team responded with second-year player Joe Haeg, who filled in against a difficult Cardinals front and performed well.
Frank Gore looks very fresh on his carries and Marlon Mack represents the most dynamic backfield option the Colts have had in years. Robert Turbin continues to be an effective short-yardage back and Matt Jones is on the practice squad.
This defensive line is one of the best the Colts have had in recent memory and I’d argue that this group has the chance to be one of the better units in the NFL. Two weeks in and the front seven continues stingy play against the run and has kept lanes clear for linebackers to do their work. Throw in that both Jabaal Sheard and John Simon have shown promise as edge setters and things are starting to come together.
As for injuries? Second-year center Ryan Kelly still hasn’t taken the field in 2017. The Colts best defensive back, Vontae Davis, still isn’t on the field. Veteran defensive back Darius Butler didn’t play week two, nor did starting inside linebacker Antonio Morrison. An undrafted free agent rookie center has done a pretty good job in his first two games. Deyshawn Bond hasn’t warranted a lot of focus or attention and that’s about all you can ask out of someone in his situation.
Dynamic tight end Erik Swoope has not taken the field. The best defensive player on the team in 2016, Clayton Geathers, has weeks until he returns from the PUP — if he is ready.
The point is, the Colts didn’t have at least three marquee players from their roster, including two key players in their secondary, and didn’t have nearly a dozen starting caliber players short- or long-term due to injury, and the replacements for those missing players forced the Cardinals into overtime.
These are backups, rookies and replacement players who are putting together solid football games, good film, and putting a second-year backup quarterback who has been with the team for only two weeks the chance to win a football game in the NFL. No team that is devoid of talent can do that.
So, they have it right. The Colts are likely underdogs until Andrew Luck returns. They’re right, the Colts belong near the bottom of the league in NFL power rankings.
But if they tell you that the Colts belong there because they are starved for talent — they’re wrong.
As the Colts forged video says, “there may be some folks that just don’t respect you. And you know what? That’s okay, because they’re about to.”