COLTS 2015 Preview

By | June 25, 2015

Because of the mediocre to poor teams in their division (JAGS, TEXANS, TITANS) it occurs to me that a good number of NFL fans don’t realize that ANDREW LUCK, in only his 4th season as a pro, has already turned the COLTS back into a double-digit win team, and serious annual Super Bowl contender that they were for so long under TONY DUNGY and PEYTON MANNING, just last decade. And 2015 could be the year that the COLTS surge past Denver and New England to participate in LUCK’s first Super Bowl. Why do I think that? Because it appears to me that GM RYAN GRIGSON has gone out and brought in enough new talent to allow LUCK to soar, while those other two teams struggle to hang on to their recent dominance.
Let’s look at the plus/minus ledger sheet for off-season roster management by GRIGSON.
Out is RB/TRENT RICHARDSON, and in is RB/FRANK GORE. Out is S/LaRON LANDRY and in is S/DWIGHT LOWERY. Out is REGGIE WAYNE/WR and in is ANDRE JOHNSON/WR. Out is CORY REDDING/DL and in is KENDALL LANGFORD/DL. Based on age and current talent level I see all of these moves as upgrades for the roster. VFA TODD HERREMANS/OG is also a solid addition along the OL, a unit which also hopes to get some returning players healthier in 2015.
GRIGSON also has a knack for signing a couple of useful CFL players to bring into Training Camp each summer. Usually the CFL guys fly under the radar as roster additions, but there was a bit of buzz when the COLTS were able to sign young WR/DURON CARTER, son of CHRIS CARTER in March. He ended up in Canada because he couldn’t stick with a college program in the USA. So let’s hope CHUCK PAGANO has papa CHRIS’ cell phone number on speed dial in case a little parental mentoring is needed with DURON. But if he can finally mature he could learn a lot about the pro game from a seasoned vet like JOHNSON. The under the radar signing from the CFL was DE/EARL OKINE/6’6/285 who could be a boost along their DL in addition to LANGFORD and Draftees DE/HENRY ANDERSON and DT/DAVID PARRY, both from Stanford. And the real CFL sleeper could be OC/BEN HEENAN who could beat out JON HARRISON and oft-injured KHALED HOLMES for a job.
Joining CARTER as another young toy for ANDREW LUCK was the drafting of speedster PHILLIP DORSETT/WR/Miami to provide LUCK with another dynamic play maker/target. He might not have been a need pick in the Draft, but I cannot argue with providing the best young QB in football with more weapons to work with. Staying on Offense for another moment the team now looks pretty solid at RB with the addition of GORE, re-signing of BOOM HERRON and the drafting of JOSH ROBINSON/R. Let’s also not forget 2014 URFA ZURLON TIPTON/RB who showed flashes of NFL ability in emergency duty last season.
Overall, GRIGSON spent even more time and money shoring up his Defense than he did directly helping LUCK. After a surprisingly strong Rookie year out of URFA/OLB/JONATHAN NEWSOME, who recorded 6.5 sacks, the team added VFA/TRENT COLE from the Eagles, who also had 6.5 sacks last year. Now top those guys off with the expected healthy return of one ROBERT MATHIS and opposing QB may be just a bit nervous in the pocket this Fall. Heck there is even a chance that former 1st Rounder BJOERN WERNER, might finally develop, though I think they’d be best served by trading him to a 4-3 scheme team. He was never a good fit for the COLTS defensive base set in the first place, IMO.
Despite all the work done to improve the roster detailed above there is more encouraging news for COLTS fans. There was still money and Draft Picks left over to work on upgrading secondary talent for the team. In addition to LOWERY in VFA, GRIGSON used 2 picks in the Draft to bring in CB/D’JOUN SMITH/R3 and SS/CLAYTON GEATHERS/R4, who both bolster depth in sub-packages right away, and might even be potential starters long term. And they showed the wisdom to bring back MIKE ADAMS/S for a 12th NFL season.
The bottom line seems clear. This roster is better than last year’s edition and there is no reason to think that ANDREW LUCK won’t once again be better than he was the year before. With a better running attack and receiving corps I look for LUCK to force things less and make heavy strides in reducing his INT total. The final roster in September should be a very nice blend of youth and age. I see an 11-5 team that could feature as many as 20 new players on its final roster, with most of them providing an upgrade on the playing field immediately. Playing for keeps in VFA, including the CFL talent pool, was exactly the thing for GRIGSON to do, since ANDREW LUCK is clearly ready to win it all NOW!
Good luck to the rest of the AFC South in trying to hang with this team. As scary as it sounds, this could be the most improved roster in the League.