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Off-Season Roundtable: What is the Colts’ Biggest Need?

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts off-season is still young and there are still plenty of questions that need to be addressed. Our crew of writers broke down the most pressing questions — presented by Andrew Aziz.

Roundtable members: Andrew Aziz, Jake Arthur, Chris Blystone, Stephen Reed, Chris Shephard


Question 2: What is the Colts’ biggest need?

Chris Shepherd: Pass rush. The defense as a whole did look better last year but we finished close to last in the league in sacks. I’ve seen a lot of people cite Sheard and the number of hurries he has and that’s all well and good but there’s nothing that messes with a QBs head like getting hit and sacked.

With an improved pass rush all aspects of the defense look better.

You could also make the case that offensive line help is #1. I just feel that finding a game changing pass rush is more difficult than finding good interior linemen.

Jake Arthur: While the pass rush needs to be figured out this offseason as well, nothing is more important than making sure the offensive line is turned into an average to above-average unit this off-season. We’ve now lived through missing Andrew Luck for a season and a half over the last three years, and the run game hasn’t been much to write home about either.

Arguably the biggest knock on former general manager Ryan Grigson was his failure to build a good line. New GM Chris Ballard has to know that the line’s development is something that he’ll be judged by during his tenure. I’m sure owner Jim Irsay has given a suggestive nudge or two about the line as well.

Andrew Aziz: The Colts’ biggest need is the offensive line. The offensive line is the lifeblood of an offense; it is the engine that makes the unit go. If the offensive line is weak, the entire offense will be weak. Last season, the Colts were the most sacked team in the NFL and Jacoby Brissett was hit more than any other quarterback. Part of that had to do with Brissett himself, but most of the blame is on the offensive line.

Andrew Luck will be returning next season and he can’t be the most hit quarterback in the NFL. As it stands, only Ryan Kelly and Anthony Castonzo are projected quality linemen under contract in 2018. There are some options in free agency and many options in the draft that they need to consider.

Stephen Reed: Goodness, what a loaded question. It may be easier to list what don’t the Colts need, which is QB, DL and the secondary?

The biggest needs in my opinion are offensive line and pass rush. While my head says to go with offensive line, my gut says pass rush. The Colts can’t put pressure on opposing QBs. If they can’t do that, they won’t win many games.

The Colts lack of pass rush was glaring in the second half of games and especially after John Simon got injured. If opposing QBs have time, they’ll pick apart the Colts secondary.

The reason I don’t say OL is partially due to McDaniels. The Patriots were able to do some fantastic things with a terrible OL. I don’t expect McDaniels to have Luck taking 7-step drops if the OL is bad. I’d expect a quick passing game with screens.

I also think OL is an easier position to address in free agency since top tier pass rushers almost never hit the market.

Chris Blystone: The Colts are a team with a lot of needs. Their most serious area of need is at the linebacker position, specifically in the interior. Many will argue the offensive line, receivers, or running back are areas that deserve consideration as the most serious need. They definitely need help at those spots, but the line has proven talents in Castonzo and Kelly, the receivers have T.Y. Hilton, and Marlon Mack paired with Robert Turbin is a good starting point for the running backs.

The linebackers are a whole different story. On the interior the Colts don’t have anything resembling a top talent at the position. In fact, the starters for the Colts would be struggling to maintain a roster spot on many teams in the NFL. On the outside, Jabaal Sheard and John Simon have shown promise, but neither is really a game-changing player. While role-players are important, this unit is definitely the weakest from top to bottom.

In an otherwise stout group against the run, the linebackers deserve the blame for several of the big plays given up late in games to running backs that really hurt the Colts down the stretch. In pass coverage, they were even worse. Add the fact that the group could not consistently get any semblance of a pass rush with and you have a group that needs a full-scale face-lift.

I wouldn’t disagree with those who believe that the offensive line is a pressing need. However, I think it is easier to find a serviceable guard than an excellent pass rusher or a well-rounded interior linebacker.

Additionally, scheming up quicker options in the passing game and having good options for screen passes can help keep Luck upright and untouched. It is much harder and more costly to manufacture a pass rush when you don’t have players who can do it. Likewise, bringing safety help into the box to help defend the run for linebackers who are a liability opens the team up to big plays in the passing game.

Poll

What is the Colts biggest need heading into the 2018 off-season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Quarterback
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Running Back
    (28 votes)
  • 0%
    Wide Receiver
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Tight End
    (4 votes)
  • 38%
    Offensive Line
    (356 votes)
  • 1%
    Defensive Line
    (11 votes)
  • 44%
    Pass Rush
    (418 votes)
  • 10%
    Inside Linebacker
    (99 votes)
  • 0%
    Cornerback
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Safety
    (1 vote)
936 votes total Vote Now