The Indianapolis Colts showed in 2023 that they are closer to good than awful. That was certainly up in the air coming off a 4-12-1 disaster of a season. While they won’t be the preseason pick to win it all in 2024, there are a few things that could propel them to the big game within the next few years. Think about the Bengals, Rams, Eagles, etc. These are teams that didn’t necessarily look like they were headed for greatness just a few seasons prior to their runs, but there we all were watching them compete for the game’s biggest prize. The Colts need to do these things to take that next great leap.
Anthony Richardson’s development takes off
Anthony Richardson is the ultimate key to everything here. If he doesn’t pan out or can’t stay healthy enough to stay on the field, you can forget about everything else you read. Just like the vast majority of Super Bowl hopefuls, everything lives and dies with the quarterback.
We witnessed a quarterback who wasn’t as raw as we all thought he would be coming out of college. Another year in the system watching and learning should help that progression. Additionally, seeing what Shane Steichen was able to get out of the offense with his starter available for only a handful of quarters should have fans salivating. If Richardson can show his dynamic running ability while improving his accuracy, watch out. We could see Jalen Hurts 2.0 within the next 1-2 seasons. The man has a rocket arm and incredible speed. If he can put it all together, the Colts will become a legitimate threat.
Another playmaker at wide receiver
Michael Pittman Jr. was excellent this year, and Josh Downs looks like he could be something special. While Pittman was great, he isn’t elite enough to completely break a game wide open and needs help from his counterparts for the offense to truly become a juggernaut. If Chris Ballard can get his mind away from the trenches for a minute and focus on playmakers on the outside, this offense could be deadly.
You can never have enough playmakers. Making a defensive coordinator stay up at night planning for not just one talented receiver but two, will go a long way. Most of the great teams in the NFL have strong receiving corps. Pittman and just a bunch of guys isn’t going to get it done.
Add a lock down defender
Watching the Colts’ secondary get shredded by their opponents on a consistent basis was tough to stomach. You can blame the defensive scheme if you want to, but the players have to be good enough at some point too. Perhaps JuJu Brents can be that guy. That is still to be seen. If not, the Colts need to place top priority on the position.
Take away the other team’s best receiving threat and everyone gets better. You hear about coverage sacks a lot. That means the defensive line didn’t get immediate pressure but was able to get home because the coverage was so good on the back-end. A top corner can help the line apply that kind of pressure. It also means the quarterback will have to go through more of his progressions and make the second and third options step up to make plays more often. An elite defender on the outside would work wonders for the defense as a whole.
No, not that Luck...I am talking about being lucky. Whether that is overall health, hitting on draft picks, signing free agents that outplay their contracts, or making the plays in the postseason that send you to the next round. Luck is a huge part of sports. Talent is needed, but sometimes the ball just bounces your way.
I would rather be lucky than good, and I would rather that be the case for the Colts in their quest for a Super Bowl. They can’t rely on it, but good fortune can usually be spotted in any team’s season that claims ultimate glory.
With all of that said, it won’t be easy. At the same time, how hard can it be? Develop your in house talent, acquire some from outside the organization, and get a little lucky. That is the receipe I see for a Super Bowl run. Yes, it may seem impossible at this moment in time, but teams come out of nowhere all the time. It is the minor and major moves working in tandem that make it all work. Let’s see if the Colts can put it all together.