It has been a rough few years for Indianapolis Colts fans. After a hot start to Andrew Luck’s career, the team has taken a pronounced step backward and has shown the symptoms of missing so badly in the draft, while simultaneously failing to adequately bolster the roster through free agency. The bulk of these symptoms are the result of philosophical and evaluative failures on the part of Ryan Grigson and his staff.
When you throw in a shoulder injury Luck suffered three seasons ago, the severity of which no one really knew until he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in January, 2017, it is easy to understand how things turned south so quickly.
To make mattes worse, the coaching staff failed to properly lead the team for many seasons. Despite back-to-back-to-back 11 win seasons and advancing further each year into the playoffs, one could argue that the former coaching staff peaked in Luck’s rookie year and gradually got worse until they were replaced following a disaster-filled 2017 season. Simply removing an ineffective coaching staff should give a strong reason to feel better about the future.
What makes me excited about the 2018 season for the Indianapolis Colts is a perfect storm of circumstances that I feel could go a very long way in not only making Indy fun to watch this year, but also should help the team out-perform expectations. The three primary reasons I’m excited are; 1) Andrew Luck’s healthy return to the football field, 2) Frank Reich is an offensive minded coach who has worked with Peyton Manning, and who should have a postive influence on Luck’s development and 3) Reich is bringing an up-tempo, quicker release, no-huddle, aggressive offensive personality and play-style with him that should play to Luck’s strengths.
I see a defense that will likely experience some growing pains, which will put pressure on the offense to do even more. This could create the kind of environment Luck needs to have the most productive year of his professional career.
While there are questions about receivers not named Hilton and there is a committee approach to the backfield, the offensive line is going to be better than it has been at any point in Lucks’ career. I also see a more athletically gifted group of players on the offensive side of the ball.
Jack Doyle is a steady security blanket for Luck but he is now going to line up across from Eric Ebron, whose physical gifts make him a potential x-factor. Running backs Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines are young and elusive enough to help improve production on the ground. They are fast enough to stretch the defense laterally, explosive enough to break big plays, and are able to line up in different formations to create match-up problems and open up areas of the field for their teammates.
The timing nature of the offense should benefit players like Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant. Both are known for being disciplined route runners and have the greatest potential to be possession type players. In the previous offensive scheme, their inability ability to get over the top and run past defenders may have limited them. In this offense, discipline running routes and getting in and out of breaks should help them play a bigger role.
Most importantly, Andrew Luck has looked very good in training camp. He has been throwing to all levels of the field and has been improving his timing with new teammates. An improved offensive line should mean that Luck will have an extra second or so to survey the field and get the ball out of his hands. The concept of Luck having another second in the pocket should excite any Colts fan. Throw in that he will be playing in an offensive scheme that will force defenses to play back on their heels and you can expect an offense that looks more like it did under Manning.
Barring injuries to key players, this offense has a chance to be one of the best in the NFL. It has me excited to watch Colts football in 2018.