Now that the Super Bowl has been played and free agency is less than a month away, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three offseason needs for each team. The next franchise in focus is the Indianapolis Colts.
What to Know
2014 Record: 11-5
Draft Picks: 29th Overall
Notable Free Agents: Mike Adams, Reggie Wayne, Ahmad Bradshaw, Cory Redding
2014 In Review
As expected, the Indianapolis Colts were once again the class of the AFC South. Led by Andrew Luck, the Colts placed first and third in passing offense and total offense, respectively. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback also led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 40. In the third year of the post-Manning era, Luck and head coach Chuck Pagano helped Indy take another step forward by reaching the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. If there was no such place on Earth called Foxboro, Massachusetts, the Colts would have more Super Bowls.
Nothing went right for Indianapolis during the 45-7 drubbing they received from their rivals in January’s title game. After watching Tom Brady throw for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount rush for another three scores, defense should be Indy’s top priority in 2015. Beyond that, what else do the Colts need to address this spring?
Indianapolis Colts 2015 Offseason: Top 3 Needs
Revamped Front Seven
The Colts defense was pretty solid statistically in 2014, ranking 12th and 11th in passing defense and total defense, respectively. Their rushing defense was the downfall, as it finished 18th overall. Defensive end Cory Redding has had a solid career, but he’s 34. Defensive tackle Arthur Jones was a huge pickup last offseason, but the jury’s still out on him after he missed seven games in 2014. In two seasons, nose tackle Josh Chapman has a combined total of 36 tackles and no sacks.
Age at the linebacker position should be examined. Robert Mathis may end up in Canton one day; for now, the Colts need to consider moving on from the six-time Pro Bowl edge rusher (Sorry Indy fans, but if they can let got of Dwight Freeney, they can let go of Mathis). Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson had a Pro Bowl campaign, but he’s also in his thirties. Outside backer Erik Walden is formidable, but sits at age 29. Jerrell Freeman was No. 3 on our Pro Bowl Snubs list for 2014, but even he’s 28. The Bjoern Werner project has failed to date. With about $40 million in cap space, will the Colts go after Jerry Hughes in March?
Mike Adams went to the Pro Bowl after accumulating 87 tackles and 5 interceptions, but he’s currently 33 and a free agent. LaRon Landry was recently released because of his deficiencies in pass coverage. Vontae Davis is an elite cornerback, and Greg Toler isn’t too shabby playing on the opposite side. With quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers all in the AFC, having a stout secondary is key. Look for Indianapolis to tab someone like Landon Collins in the first round.
Interior Offensive Linemen
What may come as a surprise to most NFL critics is that the Colts offensive line is not as bad as advertised. Pro Football Focus ranked their frontline as the NFL’s 17th-best offensive line in 2014 after placing 25th in 2013. Indianapolis sack totals have decreased in each of Luck’s three seasons. Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus make up a solid tackle tandem, but guard and center play must improve after only putting forth the 22nd-ranked rushing attack last season. Signing CFL standout Ben Heenan is a good start at guard, but drafting a couple more will be important. The Colts still need to find the replacement of their all-time great snapper, Jeff Saturday.
With the fallout of Trent Richardson and constant durability issues with Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard, the Colts could also use a running back in their depleted stable. Daniel “Boom” Herron was a spark off the bench, but more depth is needed at the position. Early signs having pointed to University of Miami product Duke Johnson. With all that said, however, Indianapolis must focus on retooling their trenches before anything else.
Have you tuned into Last Word On Sports Radio? LWOS is pleased to bring you 24/7 sports radio to your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. What are you waiting for?