2020 is officially underway, and with it comes the close of a decade. The Indianapolis Colts have undergone a lot over the past 10 years, notably saying goodbye to Peyton Manning, welcoming Andrew Luck, and then giving an unexpected goodbye to Luck in 2019. Let’s take a look back on the best players from 2010 to 2019 in the Indianapolis All-Decade Team.
Indianapolis Colts All-Decade Team
Indianapolis Colts All-Decade Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Andrew Luck
Peyton Manning only saw the field in 2010 for the Indianapolis Colts, so Andrew Luck earns the honors for the Colts All-Decade Team. Arriving in Indianapolis with the first overall pick, Luck immediately transformed one of the worst teams in the league into an annual playoff contender. From 2012 to 2014, Luck threw for 12,957 yards, 86 touchdowns, and 43 interceptions. He led the Colts to the playoffs in each of those three seasons, culminating in an AFC Championship appearance in 2014. Unfortunately, injuries limited the Pro Bowl quarterback to just 22 games over the next three seasons. Luck had the Colts back in the playoffs in 2018 before suddenly calling it a career before the 2019 season. Oh, what could have been.
Running Back: Frank Gore
With all due respect to Trent Richardson, Frank Gore takes the top spot on this list. Gore’s three-year run in Indianapolis occurred during Luck’s injury-plagued seasons, so it’s easy to forget just how good he was for the Colts. During his time in Indianapolis, the ageless wonder recorded a combined 2,953 yards and 13 touchdowns on 784 carries. While his 3.8 yards-per-carry isn’t anything remarkable, he did as well as could be expected running behind a subpar offensive line with an injured quarterback.
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton
One of the only good things Ryan Grigson did as general manager was select T.Y. Hilton in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Hilton and Luck immediately established a rapport together, as the rookie recorded 50 receptions for 861 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. He continued to find success with and without Luck in the lineup and currently has 552 receptions for 8,598 yards and 45 touchdowns. Whether it’s serving as second-fiddle to Reggie Wayne or being the focal point of the passing attack, T.Y. Hilton has always answered the call for the Colts.
Wide Receiver: Reggie Wayne
Reggie Wayne’s best days came in the early 2000’s, but the star wide receiver still earns a spot on this list for his work in the 2010’s. Wayne earned First-Team All-Pro honors following a 111-catch, 1,355 yard-season. Wayne was fantastic in 2010, but perhaps his most impressive accomplishment of the past decade came in 2012. Serving an integral role to Andrew Luck’s NFL development, Wayne recorded 106 receptions for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns while playing in all 16 games. Age caught up to the Indianapolis legend following that season, but he still remains one of the best receivers of the decade.
Tight End: Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle has come a long way since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in 2013. Over the past seven seasons, the Western Kentucky product has slowly climbed his way up the depth chart to become a key role player in the passing game. During his time in the league, Doyle has recorded 243 receptions for 2,176 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s no George Kittle, but his steady presence and longevity earns him a spot on this list.
Tight End: Coby Fleener
Coby Fleener only spent four years with the Indianapolis Colts, but the Stanford product made the most of his time. Entering the league alongside Luck, Fleener managed to record 183 receptions for 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns during his time in Indianapolis. His best season came in 2014, when he recorded 51 receptions for 774 yards and eight touchdowns.
Tackle: Anthony Castonzo
One of the only good things to come out of the 2011 season, left tackle Anthony Castonzo became an immediate starter along the Indianapolis offensive line. The Colts had a subpar offensive line throughout the majority of the Andrew Luck era, but Castonzo always managed to be a solid starter, even if he never approached an elite level of play. After 10 years in the league, Castonzo remains the starting left tackle for one of the best offensive lines in football.
Guard: Quentin Nelson
Quenton Nelson is not only the best guard in Colts history, but he could very well be the best guard in the NFL. Selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Nelson immediately started at left guard and became one of the premier blockers at his position. Notorious for his ferocious work in both the run and pass game, Nelson managed to take home First-Team All-Pro honors as a rookie and should win the award again in 2019. Barring injury, it’s hard to imagine anyone else suiting up at left guard for the foreseeable future.
Center: Ryan Kelly
Ryan Kelly was the first major piece in the Colts’ recent plan of improving the offensive line. Selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Kelly immediately stepped into the lineup to protect Andrew Luck. After battling injury in 2017, Kelly played 12 games in 2018 before playing a full 16-game slate in 2019. Like Castonzo, he’s been a solid starter who hasn’t quite reached elite levels of play. Still, he’s a key cog in the Colts offensive line and should remain the starter heading into 2020.
Guard: Joe Reitz
This says more about the decade-long state of the Colts offensive line than it does Joe Reitz. Reitz was a fine player and offered the versatility to play both guard positions and even a bit of tackle. However, he was nothing special and only played a full 16-game slate once during his six-year career. However, there really isn’t a better option, so Reitz gets the nod.
Tackle: Braden Smith
General manager Chris Ballard deserves a medal for rebuilding the Indianapolis offensive line as quickly as he did. Like most of the current offensive linemen, Braden Smith immediately played a role on the offensive line, starting 13 of his first 15 career games. He carried that over into 2019, starting a full 16-game slate and finishing as the ninth-best tackle in football, per Pro Football Focus. The future is bright for Smith, as well as the Indianapolis offensive line as a whole.
Indianapolis Colts All-Decade Team: The Defense
Defensive End: Robert Mathis
With or without Dwight Freeney by his side, Robert Mathis was a force to be reckoned with. The former fifth-round pick is one of the best players in franchise history and didn’t let age slow him down in the past decade. From 2010 to 2016, Mathis recorded 60 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, 90 quarterback hits, and 55 tackles-for-loss. Mathis’ best season during this timeframe easily came in 2013, when he won First-Team All-Pro honors after recording a league-high 19.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles. He also added on a safety for good measure.
Defensive End: Dwight Freeney
Dwight Freeney’s best years came in the early 2000’s, but he still had something left in his tank in the early parts of the 2010’s. From 2010 to 2013, Freeney recorded 23.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and 50 quarterback hits. He earned two Pro Bowl nominations before parting ways with the franchise. Freeney went on to play for four different teams before calling it a career following the 2017 season.
Defensive Tackle: Denico Autry
One of Chris Ballard’s more underrated signings, Denico Autry turned into a solid interior lineman who can hold his own against both the run and the pass. Signed prior to the 2018 season, Autry recorded nine sacks and 11 quarterback hits in 12 games in 2018. He followed that up with a quieter 3.5 sacks in 2019 but still recorded 11 quarterback hits. The best game of his Colts career came in Week 12 of 2018, when he recorded three sacks against Cody Kessler and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Defensive Tackle: Fili Moala
Fili Moala was never a great player, but he managed to be a serviceable starter for the early-decade Colts teams. From 2010 to 2012, Moala recorded two sacks, 35 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, and 10 quarterback hits while starting in every game in which he appeared. Moala served as a space-eater and the stat sheet doesn’t truly measure his impact on the game.
Linebacker: Darius Leonard
Another one of Chris Ballard’s best picks, linebacker Darius Leonard was instrumental in transforming the Indianapolis defense into an above-average unit. Selected in the second round of the 2018 draft, Leonard managed to immediately outplay his draft stock by recording a league-high 163 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, and eight quarterback hits. Leonard won Defensive Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-Pro honors for his fantastic inaugural campaign. Leonard followed that up with a similarly-impressive 2019 and should be a key piece of the Colts defense for years to come.
Linebacker: Jerrell Freeman
Jerrell Freeman didn’t have the longest tenure in Indianapolis, but he made his four seasons count. After spending three seasons in the CFL, Freeman joined the Colts in 2012 and immediately became the best linebacker on the team. During his first season, Freeman recorded 145 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss, two quarterback hits, and one pick-six. He followed that up with a 144-tackle season in 2013 and recorded over 100 tackles in each of his four seasons with the club.
Linebacker: D’Qwell Jackson
Another tackling machine, D’Qwell Jackson managed to be one of the more important pieces of the Indianapolis Colts defense during his three-year tenure with the team. Signed in the 2014 offseason, Jackson earned a Pro Bowl berth after recording 167 tackles, five quarterback hits, and four sacks. He followed that up with a 150-tackle campaign in 2015 and was well on his way to another 100-tackle season before injuries limited him to just 12 games in 2016.
Cornerback: Vontae Davis
It’s safe to say that Vontae Davis was worth the second-round investment back in 2012. Acquired to serve as the top cornerback on the roster, Vontae Davis had six strong years with the Colts, including two Pro Bowl berths in 2014 and 2015. His best season came during the aforementioned 2014 campaign when he recorded four interceptions, 18 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. Davis went on to play for the Buffalo Bills in 2018 before famously retiring mid-game.
Cornerback: Darius Butler
As the old saying goes, one mans’ trash is another mans’ treasure. The New England Patriots moved on from former second-round pick Darius Butler after just two seasons and, after one season in Carolina, the Indianapolis Colts signed him to serve as depth. He turned into far more than just a depth signing, as Butler went on to play in 82 games for Indianapolis. During his time on the field, Butler recorded 12 interceptions, 254 tackles, and 44 pass breakups. He was never a superstar, but he was a reliable presence in the Indianapolis secondary.
Safety: Antoine Bethea
Another staple of the early-decade defense, Antoine Bethea was an absolute steal in the sixth-round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Bethea appeared in all 64 games from 2010 to 2014, recording a combined 312 tackles, 13 quarterback hits, three interceptions, 25 pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. While he never earned a Pro Bowl nomination with Indianapolis in the 2010’s, he managed to get one during the 2014 season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Safety: Mike Adams
Mike Adams spent three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and was a fixture during his time on the field. Starting in all 44 games in which he appeared, Adams recorded 12 interceptions and seven forced fumbles while breaking up 19 passes. A strong defender against the run and the pass, Adams made the Pro Bowl in both 2014 and 2015.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
Duh. As the only kicker of the decade, Adam Vinatieri is the obvious choice for the Colts All-Decade team.
Punter: Pat McAfee
Also duh. Even though he’s no longer with the team, Pat McAfee remains a fan favorite and an unquestioned staple on the Colts All-Decade Team.
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