As seen here, Kimes ranked the Colts just below the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens among aspiring AFC contenders.
Via her podcast ‘The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny’ on Wednesday, Kimes added:
“My number one team (in the AFC South) is Indianapolis. ... I’m really excited to watch this Indianapolis offense. There has been change, I mentioned (Philip) Rivers. They also went out and hired (wide receivers coach) Mike Groh from Philadelphia. ... He’s under Frank Reich who I love. And Frank Reich has been interesting, he has talked up Phil Rivers’ arm strength—which I think would be a bonus in an offense that completely lacked an explosive passing game last year. But isn’t necessary because this run game, which added Jonathan Taylor, I think is going to be utterly dominant. They were 7th in DVOA last year running the ball, so now you’ve got this two-headed monster of Marlon Mack—who’s really good and Jonathan Taylor behind arguably the best offensive line in football, and then you’ve got Phil Rivers who can operate Frank Reich’s quick passing game.”
“Rivers, even last year, his struggles were from mostly forcing the ball deep often in situations where he was playing from behind. And they went out and added a rookie receiver, I know rookie receivers don’t always make an impact out of the gate, but I think Michael Pittman Jr. out of USC is one of those receivers, big bodied, good getting off the line, who could be really impactful immediately.”
“I know I just said a zillion things, but all told, I’m very excited to see how this comes together.”
Now, Kimes’ opinion isn’t exactly unprecedented, as a number of media experts have projected the Colts to rise in the AFC rankings already this offseason.
With the big additions of veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the Colts had one of the most seismic-shifting offseasons—with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably being the other main one.
The Colts also dramatically improved their offensive skill position group with two highly touted rookies: wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and running back Jonathan Taylor, both of whom are dynamic playmakers and should contribute immediately in 2020.
Obviously, being declared ‘paper winners of the offseason’ doesn’t mean a thing, and the Colts still have to earn it on the field throughout a full grinding 16 game season—and potentially in the playoffs.
That being said, there are real reasons for cautious optimism with the Colts right now (assuming Rivers isn’t cooked at 38 years old)—in what should be a much improved squad talent-wise from this past season.
The Colts finished 7-9 last year (including an upset road win against the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and a divisional split with the AFC runner-up Tennessee Titans). Had it not been for veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri’s season-long struggles, the Colts could’ve very well have won a handful of more games too that came down to the wire.
All things considered, Kimes is right. There’s considerable potential for the Colts to win the AFC South and make a deep playoff run this upcoming season.