This has been a very strange week for Colts fans. After suffering through years of sub-par offensive line play, things appear to be coming together. The line has helped Indianapolis enjoy back-to-back games with a 100 yard rusher for the first time since 2007, and with 200 or more rushing yards as a team for the first time since 1985.
According to Football Outsiders, the line has given up 10 sacks this year — which is tied for the second least in the NFL. They are tied for fourth in adjusted sack rate at 4.4%, a measure that includes intentional grounding and that is adjusted for down, distance, and opponent. Football Outsiders ranks the unit fifth overall in pass protection.
In the ground game, the line is fourth in the NFL in average RB yards per carry at 4.93. In adjusted line yards, the offensive line is second with 5.11 yard per carry. They are the third best line in the NFL in generating positive yards on rushing attempts, allowing only 14% of rushing attempts to be stuffed for no gain or a loss.
If all of that isn’t strange enough for Colts fans to read, it must have been a shock to see rookie guard Quenton Nelson receive Rookie of the Month honors for October. He is the first guard in NFL history to receive the recognition. The icing on the cake is that Indy’s offensive line is starting to gain other national recognition, with NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling naming center Ryan Kelly to the mid-season All-Pro team.
The idea that the Colts would have two offensive linemen generating national discussion in one season would have been laughable a season ago. Kelly was hurt for much of 2017, Nelson was playing at Notre Dame, and the offensive line was held together by super glue and duct tape.
Now? Anthony Castonzo’s healthy return to the lineup and pairing with Nelson and Kelly is a huge advantage against just about any opponent. More shocking, Mark Glowinski has been strong in his first starting reps in Indianapolis after a rough beginning to his career in Seattle and rookie Braden Smith — the assumed heir apparent to the starting right guard position — has looked good at right tackle.
Sometimes everything seems to go right all at once. With two 2018 draft picks and one free agent addition, Chris Ballard may have done something in his tenure that former general manager Ryan Grigson was unable to do throughout his time with the Colts. The offensive line may be one of the team’s biggest strengths and they’ve just started to show signs of what they’re capable of accomplishing.
If this unit stays healthy and continues to play dominant football, the Colts could shock the NFL world in the second half of the season.