According to PFF, the Indianapolis Colts have the league’s 15th best overall roster for 2022, meaning the popular advanced football grade web site believes the Horseshoe is around league average:
15. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Biggest strength: The Colts were one of two NFL teams that averaged a positive EPA per play in the running game during the 2021 regular season, joining the Eagles. That’s a combination of an impressive run-blocking unit and arguably the league’s top running back entering the 2022 season. Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,272 rushing yards after contact last season were more than any other running back in the league had before and after contact. That run game and Indianapolis’ offensive environment as a whole represents a big positive change for Matt Ryan after his past few years in Atlanta.
Biggest weakness: The Colts added a few pass-catching options in the draft in Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods, but there isn’t much proven depth in their receiving corps. They’ll be counting on rookies such as Pierce and the oft-injured Parris Campbell to deliver in starting roles. That could work out. Pierce is a big target who can stretch the field, as can Campbell with his speed. It’s just a bit of an unknown for a team that fancies itself as an AFC contender.
X factor for 2022: Kwity Paye missed some time early in his rookie season with a hamstring injury, but he bounced back to show some promise as a pass-rusher with a 71.3 PFF pass-rushing grade in 2021. Paye stands out as a potential breakout candidate entering his second season, particularly given the talent around him on that defensive line with DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart and Yannick Ngakoue.
To PFF’s point, the Colts have a passing game that beyond Michael Pittman Jr., really lacks proven plus wideouts and certainly not anyone you’d consider an elite NFL receiving playmaker at the present time (although don’t sleep on Nyheim Hines this season, with greater usage).
However, the group, while unheralded collectively, could still surprise—as there’s clear talent here, they just have to show it consistently.
It’s a ‘meat and potatoes, no-nonsense’ offense that will still lean heavily on Jonathan Taylor and an often dominant ground game, and if it can get enough big passing plays from new starting veteran quarterback Matt Ryan through the air—along with greater overall consistency, will be plenty dangerous to put up points against even the league’s heavyweights.
For a Colts defense that recently added Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore—to deploy in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s evolved ‘Cover 3’ scheme, this is a unit that has a serious chance to ascend into a Top 3 unit overall (*although 4x NFL All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard will need to make a full recovery from offseason back surgery).
To me, this ranking seems a tad low because even if the offense is devoid of top offensive playmakers (outside of Taylor, Pittman Jr., and arguably Hines), it’s still one of the most well-balanced squads in football on both sides of the ball—and especially when even factoring in special teams for all three phases. Maybe not a Top 5 unit, but at least a fringe Top 10.