clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How much better can the Colts offense get in 2019?

New, comments

The Colts offense was excellent in 2018 with the return of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, but it could get much better in 2019.

Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Colts Offense Rank 18-19

//////////////////////// PPG YPG Passing YPG Rushing YPG Scoring % Turnover % Red-zone TD % 3rd Down % Sack % Explosive Play %
//////////////////////// PPG YPG Passing YPG Rushing YPG Scoring % Turnover % Red-zone TD % 3rd Down % Sack % Explosive Play %
Rank 6th 7th 6th 20th 6th 23rd 5th 1st 1st 26th

*An “Explosive Play” is a run that goes over 10 yards or a pass that goes over 15. All stats are taken from PFR or Sharp Football Stats.

The 2018 Colts offense returned to elite form as star player Andrew Luck came back from his shoulder injury to lead the team once again. The offense also benefitted from an offensive-minded coach in Frank Reich, an excellent group of offensive coordinators, and a heavy investment on the offensive line. All the moves made in the previous off-season to help the offense worked wonders: Luck returned to his old form and was actually the least-sacked quarterback in the entire NFL. Free-agent signing Eric Ebron showed why he was once such a high pick in the draft, as he lead the team in touchdowns. Rookies Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith helped the Colts establish the best offensive line in the NFL.

After so many things went right for Indy’s offense last season, how much more could it actually improve? Looking at the numbers, the Colts main weakness was the turnover percentage, as Luck struggled with interceptions early in the season. Still, those mistakes can be easily attributed to Luck shaking off the rust and the injuries of several starters in the offense early in the season, such as Marlon Mack and Anthony Castonzo. The other number that could be a cause for concern is the lack of explosive plays. The Colts were excellent at keeping the ball moving, but were among the worst teams in the league at getting big gains. If you look at the other top offenses, like Kansas City, New England or both Los Angeles teams, they all rank in the top 10 in this category. The Colts running game also struggled early on, without starting back Marlon Mack and left tackle Anthony Castonzo, but got it going late in the season, when everyone was healthy.

So, basically, the Colts offense had three major weaknesses entering the off-season: lack of explosive plays, turnovers, and lack of depth in the running game. So far, it looks like Indy has solved each one of them.

As for the lack of big plays on offense, the Colts drafted the best vertical threat in this year's Draft: Parris Campbell. The wide receiver out of Ohio State posted a 4.31 40 yard-dash and has solid hands and excellent elusiveness to complement his game-breaking speed. Other than T.Y Hilton, the Colts did not have any other receiver that could take the top off of a defense last season. Campbell will help the Colts stretch the field and will hopefully also open up much more space for T.Y.

In addition to being a deep-threat, Campbell can also take screen passes and short plays and convert them into big gains consistently, something that no other Colts receiver could do last season. It will be exciting to watch such an explosive playmaker in this offense.

Looking at the turnover percentage, the number can be a bit deceiving. On the first 6 weeks of the season, where the Colts were dealing with injuries and Luck was still rusty, the Colts had 14 turnovers (2.3 per game). The following 10 games, the Colts only turned the ball over 11 times (1.1 per game), a huge drop-off. With Luck finally at full-health and with a full off-season under his belt with Reich and Sirianni, along with the development of the young players, we can surely expect the Colts offense to make fewer mental mistakes and avoid turning the ball over as much.

The lack of depth in the running game was something that worried me a lot when the off-season started. When either Mack, Kelly, or Castonzo missed time the Colts running game was among the worst in the league. When the three of them were active, however, the Colts were able to run the ball on anyone. The need for some depth on the offensive line and a true backup running back was evident. Indy did not do much to address the lack of depth at the offensive-line, which is worrying, but at least they signed Spencer Ware to a cheap one-year deal. Ware could provide excellent value as a #2 back who can run, block and catch, and could be a serviceable starter if Mack misses any games.

Overall, the Colts offense looks much more complete this season and it there is no noticeable weakness that should prevent this unit from becoming at the very least top 3 in the NFL. Look out, Colts fans, this year’s offense might be the best we have seen with Luck at quarterback.