A new coach. Check. A new (and maybe even better?) quarterback. Check. Incredible rookies. Check. Experienced returners. Check. Once you mix all of these elements, you get a monster. The Indianapolis Colts organization is doing just that this season – building the monster. “Build the monster” has become a common phrase among players and coaches within the Colts organization as they adjust to the many changes that happened this offseason.
With a shocking 2-14 season in 2011, the Colts cleaned house and are looking to do a complete 180 this year.
After nearly a decade of winning seasons and two Super Bowl appearances (including a win in 2006) the Colts are looking to continue their winning record with a combination of key factors including new head coach Chuck Pagano, quarterback Andrew Luck and a slew of other key players.
When it comes to the AFC South, the Colts have a good chance to beat out the Texans for the number one spot. One of the Colts victories last season was against the Texans after an incredible comeback, so the potential is there.
When it comes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts will (possibly) have to deal with the impressive Maurice Jones-Drew who was 2011’s rushing leader. Jones-Drew has yet to show up for Jags training camp or any other team activities in hopes of getting a new contract. Rumors have begun to circulate that he is being traded, but nothing has happened yet. Without Jones-Drew, the Jags offense will struggle severely. Fellow Jag Rashad Jennings has stepped up throughout the preseason so far but is no comparison to Jones-Drew.
As for the Tennessee Titans, they made a few solid draft picks, but the Colts offense can handle them without a doubt. The Titans second year quarterback, Jake Locker, continues to improve. If the Colts defense can stop him, winning should not be a problem.
Obviously Andrew Luck will be a major asset to the Indy offense. In the preseason opener, we saw Luck post huge numbers leading fans to feel beyond satisfied. We also saw rookie backup quarterback Chandler Harnish complete two touchdowns as well. Knowing we have a solid quarterback lineup is refreshing.
Continued improvements on passing will also help the Colts offense. Veteran Reggie Wayne and rookie tight ends Coby Fleener (Luck’s former tight end at Stanford) and Dwayne Allen will be important players deep down the field. Veteran Donnie Avery and rookie LaVon Brazill have also shown to be impressive so far in the preseason. Donald Brown, who is starting his fourth season with the Colts, has stepped up as well.
As far as the defense is concerned, the seemingly unstoppable vets Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis continue to team up and be defensive powerhouses.
Unfortunately the Colts suffered a huge defensive loss in the preseason opener when 2011 tackle leader Pat Angerer broke his foot. He will be out for at least six weeks to heal.
Experienced safeties Tom Zbikowski and Antoine Bethea will also be key to stopping the opposing offense for the Colts.
OVERALL REGULAR SEASON OUTLOOK
As mentioned before, fellow AFC Southers, the Texans, could be one of the toughest teams the Colts face this season. Fortunately for the Colts, they won’t see the Texans until weeks 15 and 17, leaving plenty of time to prepare. Those games could also determine who wins the division.
As usual, the Colts will face the New England Patriots during the regular season. Over the years, this has turned into a fan favorite. The (Colts) Manning vs. Brady days may be over, but the rivalry will continue as Luck steps into his new role.
The Colts’ other games outside the AFC South will include all of the AFC East and NFC North teams plus the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs.
After winning the opening preseason game against the Rams and losing (but far outplaying) the Steelers in game two, the Colts show great potential for the regular season.
Confidence and health will be two key factors that can contribute to a winning season from the Colts. Keeping players healthy and gaining returning injured players (specifically Pat Angerer) will be a huge gain to the already stronger Colts.
The Colts face fellow top-draft pick Robert Griffin III and former Colts standout Pierre Garçon as they take on the Washington Redskins on Saturday at 4 p.m.