The Indianapolis Colts are coming from a successful season. Can they win the AFC South again?
Will they be able to get past the elite teams in the conference? With Andew Luck, they always have a chance. However, Luck can’t win on his own. This is a team with some good strengths and some real flaws.
The Colts have some question marks on their offensive line, but there is stability at the two tackle positions. Anthony Castonzo is manning the left side. Gosder Cherilus is on the right side. However, there is a glaring weakness in the interior of the line.
They lost left guard Donald Thomas for the season and replaced him with Jack Mewhort, who is a rookie. The right guard is Hugh Thornton who has experience but was okay last season. Center Khaled Holmes is out for week one and veteran A.Q Shipley will man the middle for Luck. That is a porous interior that Andrew will have to play behind.
It is possible that Luck will be spending a good part of the game running for his life. The other big reason on offense is the questionable skills of running back Trent Richardson.
Richardson could barely run through open holes last year and hasn’t looked like he has improved during the preseason. The Colts will want to run the ball, but that may be a tough task with the questionable offensive line and Richardson’s questionable skill.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton may have to abandon the ball-control offense he wants to run if the team gets behind. There were too many times last season where he didn’t utilize the team’s best weapon, Luck’s arm.
Luck can make all the throws. He also has the weapons on offense to score points against the Broncos. Reggie Wayne is coming back from ACL surgery and should be good to go. He is still a valuable weapon. T.Y. Hilton is emerging as a legitimate No.1 receiver. Hakeem Nicks is an intriguing flier that the Colts signed to a one-year contract.
If he can come close to being the Nicks of old, these three would be one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league.
Throw in two good tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, and you have the ingredients for an explosive offense. Their defense could end being the team’s Achilles heel because it is inconsistent.
The strength of the defense is going to be the run defense with Arthur Jones and Josh Chapman manning the front until Robert Mathis gets back from his suspension. There are issues in the secondary with left cornerback Greg Toler being inconsistent. Although he has been hyped up in training camp, we will have to wait and see how he performs. Vontae Davis is a very good right cornerback who will be counted on to stop some of the big pass plays that the defense gave up last season.
Head coach Chuck Pagano should be able to improve his defense, but I still think it will be a liability at times. The team’s success will be determined by Andrew Luck and the offense.
If Hamilton lets Luck throw, there shouldn’t be as many deficits to erase. If he stubbornly tries to keep running the football, there will be more of the same. This is a team that can go deep into the playoffs with Luck as the quarterback. However, there are only so many times that Luck can carry this team on his back. At some point, the defense needs to do a better job.
Otherwise, the Indianapolis Colts won’t be able to get over the hump and contend for a Lombardi Trophy.