Here we are again. It is game week, and it wouldn’t be a Tuesday before real NFL action without Power Rankings! Sure, we can point to the fact that they are frequently more reactive than predictive. You might also say they just don’t matter at all. In some ways, you’re right.
But if you listened closely enough during last season and into this off season, you heard a number come up frequently: 32. That’s where USA Today ranked the Colts to start the 2018 season. Underestimated, underappreciated, and overlooked. Frank Reich stoked that feeling, fed his team on the idea of being the underdog no one expected to do anything.
Now he’ll attempt to do so again. No one is going to make the case that losing Andrew Luck doesn’t hurt. When you lose a top 5 quarterback you’re going to feel it. However, prior to Luck’s retirement, this was viewed as a team with Super Bowl potential. The most glaring hole on the roster was their offensive line depth.
It is fair to say that Jacoby Brissett is a bit of an unknown, and we don’t know what to expect from him for certain. However, even if he proves to be no more than a “game manager,” this is a team that should be right in the mix to win the division. The expectations are yet again in the basement. Very soon we will see if this team is ready to rise to the occasion.
They’re far better than 2017 team that went 4-11 with QB Jacoby Brissett at helm. But can they get past Andrew Luck’s emotional exit?
I wrote in this space last time that I’d drop the Colts 15 spots if Andrew Luck’s injury cost him extended time. It did. Out of respect for grieving Indy fans, I halted the Power Rankings free fall at 14 spots. After Luck’s shocking retirement, head coach Frank Reich offered up his best Dick Vermeil impression, promising that his Colts would rally around new starter Jacoby Brissett. The organization backed up their coach’s show of faith in Brissett with a generous contract extension that should provide their new starter a long leash. The Colts also handed out a sizable contract to Brian Hoyer to become their new backup. It’s almost like Indy is trying to pay its way back to QB tranquility. If only it were that easy.
No Andrew Luck means no playoffs. Jacoby Brissett has some talent, but he can’t carry a team like Luck.
It’s not ideal, but not many teams had a Jacoby Brissett as their No. 2 quarterback. He might surprise some folks. The rest of the team is good. They have to take a huge step back in the rankings until we see it, but I still can’t rule out the Colts winning the division, especially with whatever is going on in Houston.
Andrew Luck is retired and Brissett -- like many of his teammates -- is in his second season in coach Frank Reich’s offense. The easy way to look at Brissett is by his 4-11 record as a starter in 2017 season. Circumstances are completely different from two years ago when he was acquired two weeks before the regular season. Brissett, who struggled at times in training camp, is set up to have an effective season because the Colts have a better overall roster.
There’s no way around this: Luck’s retirement is a devastating blow for a franchise that harbored Super Bowl aspirations heading into the season. But there’s still hope that the Colts can contend in the AFC South, even without their franchise quarterback.