clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Reasons to be cautious about the Colts’ hype

Many fans and experts alike have the Colts as AFC contenders and rightly so, but there are a few reasons to not fully buy into the hype.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts-OTA Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I hate being the devils’ advocate, but despite what the media is claiming, I am not sold on the Colts just yet. Don’t get me wrong, the team is heading in the right direction, and will only improve as the young players develop and Ballard can keep adding talented players to the roster. However, the Colts are not there just yet and might need a year or two before becoming a true powerhouse.

Reason #1: The Colts faced mostly mediocre teams last season

As we all know, the Colts finished the season on a scorching hot 9-1 streak and made the Playoffs after starting 1-5. What is also true is that the Colts faced just two good teams in those ten weeks, the Texans and the Cowboys. The combined record of the other teams (at the time they played the Colts) was 34-51. The Colts even played the Dolphins, Titans, and Bills without their starting quarterbacks.

A 9-1 streak is always impressive in the NFL, but the truth is that the Colts enjoyed playing against some of the weakest teams in the League and even went down to the wire with some of them (Jaguars at LOS and against the Giants). The Colts will face a much tougher schedule in 2019, with games against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Saints; and we must also remember that the Jaguars have apparently (finally) gotten themselves a decent quarterback in Nick Foles.

Reason #2: The Colts lack blue-chip talent on defense

The Colts defense improved a lot in 2018, mainly due to the emergence of DROY and All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard and players like Pierre Desir or Denico Autry. Still, when playing against elite offenses, the Colts defense suffered a lot. Against the Patriots in Week 6 and against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round the Colts allowed +30 points and in both matchups struggled mightily against the run. Despite adding Justin Houston, the Colts lack talent on the defensive line and the good stats on the defense might be a result of facing the worst offenses in the League.

However, the Colts did have some great performances against elite running backs, like Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley, so there are some reasons to be optimistic here.

Reason #3: The AFC got more competitive

While playoff teams like the Chiefs or the Patriots lost talent in the off-season, some other teams got considerably better. The Jets and the Browns made the most headlines, and despite the fact that games are not won in the off-season, it is fair to say that they added plenty of star power that makes them more dangerous. Even the Jaguars added Nick Foles. Making the playoffs will be much more difficult than last year, and the Colts will have to avoid losing dumb games like the one against the Jags in Jacksonville.

The AFC was very top-heavy last season, but as of now there are at least two or three emerging teams that could challenge for a playoff spot next season.

Reason #4: The Colts running game is very thin

Running game with/without either Mack, Kelly or AC

////////////////// Games Rush YPG YPC TDs
////////////////// Games Rush YPG YPC TDs
Healthy 8 142,1 4,52 11
Injured 8 72,6 3,51 2

The Colts had their running game at full strength in just 8 games last season, and when they had either Mack, Castonzo or Kelly out, the production dropped tremendously. The Colts did not address the lack of depth in this area at all this off-season. They didn't add a true backup running back, and failed to add depth on the offensive line. Given the emphasis the coaching staff placed on the running game, it is surprising how thin the roster is right now.

Reason #5: Much tougher schedule

Taking into account the fact that the difficulty of the schedule may change throughout the season as injuries and other factors happen, the Colts 2019 schedule looks much harder than the one from last season. Last year, the Colts played just 6 games against opponents that finished the season above .500. This year, they will play 8. The Colts will face the Chargers, Chiefs, Saints, and Steelers on the road.

While the Colts are in fact trending in the right direction, there are still some questions surrounding the team. It will be fun to see whether or not this roster has what it takes in order to take the next step and make it to the Super Bowl.