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NFL: Indianapolis Colts Season Review

Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

With the return of their coach, Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts season was very up and down. They had the highlights of beating of the 3 best teams in the league in the 49ers, Broncos, and Seahawks, but they also went through a streak of losing 3 out of 5 games, including getting blown out by the Rams by 30, the Cardinals by 29, and the Bengals by 14. Their biggest issues this year seemed to be not only their defense, which was horrible against the run, but also their offensive philosophy. Their offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton is a run-first guy. He pounded Trent Richardson and Donald Brown into the ground on almost every 1st and 2nd down, especially during the 1st half of games. It put the Colts star QB Andrew Luck in tough situations as he had to complete a high percentage of 3rd downs and the pressure was on him to comeback late in games. It seems like a waste of Luck’s arm.  If they want to be a Superbowl contender, they have to change their mindset to letting Luck control the action.

In 2012, the Colts led the league in pass attempts. In 2013, Pep Hamilton replaced Bruce Arians who accepted the Head Coach position of the Arizona Cardinals. Arians is a very pass QB friendly coach that puts the onus on his QB to make plays and wear his arm out — maybe to a fault. Hamilton is the former OC of the Stanford Cardinals, so he is familiar with Luck.  But just like at Stanford when he had Toby Gerhart, Coach Pep likes to run a rush, rush, pass, type of offense. Their offense led them to 14th in the league in scoring at 24.4 points per game and 15th in the league in yards per game with 341.8. On the defensive side of the ball they were 9th in the league in points allowed with 21 points per game, but 20th in the league with yards allowed. The yards allowed on the ground was the death of them as they gave up over 125 rushing yards per game.

The biggest impact to the Colts this year was the injury to star WR Reggie Wayne. When he went down, it elevated TY Hilton to a potential stardom and created a breakout year for TE Coby Fleener.  However, losing a big time, dependable weapon like Wayne will hurt any offense. Their offense, because it was run heavy, was bogged down by Trent Richardson, who averaged only 2.9 yards per carry. Later in the year they used Donald Brown more and it benefited them. On the defensive side of the ball, the Colts were led by OLB Robert Mathis, who led the team with 19.5 sacks. However, the lasting vision in everyone’s eyes will be the Cheif’s Alex Smith going off in their playoff win, and the Patriots rushing for TD’s on seemingly every play the next week. They need to tighten up the run defense if they hope to be true Superbowl contenders.

They lost in wildcard weekend in 2012 and in 2013, they lost in the divisional round, so they are showing progress with experience. Next year getting Reggie Wayne back will be huge for the offense, but they must fix the run defense. Getting an upgrade at MLB in addition to adequately replacing Pat Angerer who isn’t expected to return will help.   This team is going to live and die with Andrew Luck’s arm, but no 1 person carry a team to a Superbowl trophy — just ask Peyton Manning.

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