What a year 2012 was for the Colts. From the decision to have the legend Peyton Manning join another team, to the arrival of Andrew Luck, to all the trials and tribulations that coach Chuck Pagano had to endure(and overcome!!) They came out of everything with an incredible 11-5 record and a birth in the playoffs. Things could not have gone better.
Now it’s time to come back and do it again. This year’s not going to be so easy. They aren’t sneaking up on anyone and having the kind of luck that allows you to go 8-1 in games decided by a single score tends to change from season to season. They’re going to be a solid team, but 11-5 might just be a stretch.
S – LaRon Landry
LB – Bjoern Werner
WR – Darrius Heyward-Bey
LB – Dwight Freeney
WR – Donnie Avery
CB – Jerraud Powers
We knew he was good. We knew he was going to change the team. We had no idea how quickly this could happen. Andrew Luck came into the league and very quietly took them from a 2 win team to the 11-win juggernaut that they were in 2012. OK Juggernaut might be a stretch, but they were a solid team that won a lot of games under a very young, very poised QB. Luck set a rookie record with 4,374 passing yards but also had one of the single highest attempt numbers of all time(627). He’ll do better to make better passes rather than more passes but he’s a stud.
No one had a better year than Reggie Wayne. Stuck around when everyone was jumping off the ship and expected a year of painful growth. Instead he ended up with 1,355 yards and 5 TDs. TY Hilton is a great second option and Heyward-Bey has been added as a another potential option. He’s been a disappointment thus far but who knows what can happen with the right change of scenery, We know he has talent.
The running game will be a committee again, with Vick Ballard and Donald Brown doing most of the lifting. They were incredibly underwhelming last season and the team was 22nd in rushing yards as a result. They’ll need to be better if they want another shot at the postseason.
The defense will be without one of its long time cornerstones in 2013 and it will have an effect. Linebacker Dwight Freeney, a mainstay on the unit for over a decade, has been allowed to seek alternate employment and even though he has clearly lost a few steps, his leadership will be missed dearly. Yes Robert Mathis is still kicking around but there’s not a lot beyond that. Mathis will be counted on heavily and at 32 it may be a tough year to carry a defense.
The secondary which was the slightly better part of a poor defense last season has gotten better by adding LaRon Landry and Greg Toler. Landry is a physical safety who has a habit of making the big play when it’s needed. Toler is a solid, physical corner who will work well opposite Vontae Davis and his smooth approach. This won’t be the weakness within the defense.
Adam Vinatieri returns for his 324th NFL season(that’s what it feels like, right?). He just keeps kicking with authority and until he falters we really can’t assume he’s on a downturn. Pat McAfee will return to handle the punting duties and is more than capable of doing a fine job. Hilton is a great option as a return guy and could be even more dangerous in 2013.
Chuck Pagano endured a season unlike any other in 2012. He overcame one of the toughest things a man can be forced to face and was back on the sideline in time to see his team in the playoffs. Unfortunately the honeymoon is over now and Pagano will be expected to do it again. How much of the team’s success was due to the emotion they felt and how much can be retained? I suppose we’ll see,
The Studs: Obviously Luck is probably good for 4,000 yards and 25 TDs but he’ll need to reduce his INT numbers if he wants to be elite. Wayne is good for 1,200+ yards and at least 5TDs
The Workers: TY Hilton should get close to 1,000 yards and if he’s in the return game could be very valuable.
Sleeper: If neither of the running backs produce, look for Kerwynn Williams to make some noise. He also may get some return work in.
Overrated: Both running backs.
Should Win: Oakland, @Jacksonville, @San Diego, @Arizona, Tennessee, @Kansas City, Jacksonville
Favourite: St Louis, @Tennessee,
Toss-Up: Miami, Seattle
In Tough: @San Francisco, Denver, @Houston, @Cincinnati, Houston,
Thoughts: It’s not going to be as easy as 2012. They are lucky enough to play in a division with Jacksonville and Tennessee but have a tough schedule ahead of them otherwise. They play the NFC West which will be very tough and have two of the tougher options from the AFC East and North instead of the weaker options they could have ended up with. If they’re close they finish the year against the Chiefs and Jags so that should help. It won’t be another 11-5 year, 9-7 is much more likely.