10th percentile outcome: 6-11
How they get there: The change of scenery doesn’t do Carson Wentz any good. He once again resembles the quarterback we saw in 2020 — the one who led the NFL in turnover-worthy plays (24) and ranked last in the league in accurate-pass rate (46.8%).
A young edge defender rotation cannot replace the production from Justin Houston and Denico Autry, either. That gives opposing quarterbacks more time to find receivers working against Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin, with the latter coming off a 48.2 coverage grade in 2020.
90th percentile outcome: 11-6
How they get there: Frank Reich is once again able to bring out the best in Wentz, who at least looks more like the 2019 version of himself, if not the MVP candidate he was in 2017. Offseason signing Eric Fisher comes back healthy and maintains stability at left tackle after Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, leaving Indianapolis with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
First-round selection Kwity Paye is able to provide an instant impact along the defensive line alongside DeForest Buckner. The former San Francisco 49er ranked seventh among interior defenders in pressures (53) in his first year with the team last season.
(For what it’s worth, the Tennessee Titans’ 10th percentile outcome is 7-10 and 90th percentile outcome is 12-5 respectively—both just ahead of the Colts).
It’s hard not to largely agree with PFF’s Colts analysis here either.
The success of the Colts’ season (or at least the ability to make a deep AFC playoff push) will essentially depend on:
1. Carson Wentz’s production and effectiveness
(*insert large gap*)
2a. the Colts defense’s pass rush
2b. the Colts offense’s left tackle play
Once again, the Colts have a strong overall roster on all sides of the football—including on special teams.
While it would’ve been nice if the Colts had addressed a few other positional areas this offseason with a little more emphasis—namely at wide receiver, cornerback, and the third starting linebacker spot, it’s still projected to be a good football team again in 2021.
However, it’s essentially going to come down to Carson Wentz, and to a lesser degree of importance, whether the Colts can properly protect him from the blindside—while consistently getting after the opposing quarterback on defense.
Because this is otherwise a serious AFC playoff team with the possibility for much more.