PFT Preseason power rankings No. 26: Indianapolis Colts

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The Colts could actually be pretty good. As long as Andrew Luck’s shoulder’s fine and they can keep him upright in the future.

Of course, those are two pretty big questions, and neither of them are close to certainties at the moment.

At last news, Luck still wasn’t throwing after having surgery on his very valuable right shoulder. We’re sufficiently far away from the start of the regular season that this could easily be a lot of worry about nothing. But when an entire franchise is riding on that surgical reconstruction, it’s also not the kind of thing to minimize.

Beyond that, they pushed through years of awkwardness-if-not-dysfunction by firing General Manager Ryan Grigson and keeping coach Chuck Pagano. He and new G.M. Chris Ballard won’t be tied at the hip, which could create future tension.

Ballard realized the defense he inherited was a bad one, and bought in bulk to help shore it up. He signed a bunch of solid, competent players such as Johnathan Hankins and Jabaal Sheard and John Simon who lend ballast to a side of the ball that needed it most.

It will take some time to stabilize things completely, but as long as Luck’s able to play, they’re going to contend in the AFC South.

Biggest positive change: It’s unseemly to kick a man when he’s down, but he’s also already down there next to your foot so it seems like a waste not to sometimes.

Put simply, Grigson squandered the single-most valuable commodity a G.M. could be gifted with: A good quarterback on a cheap rookie contract.

Instead of investing the savings wisely (the way the Seahawks did and others have), Grigson bought a bunch of non-contributors and wasted the window in which Luck was good and cheap. Now that he’s good and expensive, the job is going to be harder for Ballard to put the right parts around his quarterback.

Biggest negative change: They still haven’t invested in protecting Luck the way you think they would after he took 41 sacks last year. Former G.M. Bill Polian knew he was building an unbalanced team when he had Peyton Manning, but he did it because he knew Manning was his top asset and should be protected. The Colts have brought back largely the same line as last year, and that line wasn’t good enough then.

Coaching thermometer: Pagano might have another year or two after the scapegoating of Grigson (not that he did it), but he’s on at least a steady simmer if not a low boil. He and Ballard have different agendas, and lack familiarity. While they might have similar goals, Ballard’s there for the long-term fix and will obviously have more time to do it.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . We’d say Pagano, but we’re afraid he’d want to keep chopping wood and we’d be there all night. Frank Gore’s one of the more underrated backs of recent memory, and his workmanlike approach to his craft makes him one of the most respected by his peers. He’s also had ringside seats for some real weirdness in his career in San Francisco and now Indianapolis, which would make his perspective on looking for stability an interesting one.

How they can prove us wrong: If 2016 first-rounder Ryan Kelly turns into Luck’s Jeff Saturday, it would begin to stabilize the line and maybe they all get better. Otherwise, a lot of guys upfront are going to have to play beyond their level for this thing to stay on track. Again, it’s the AFC South so the bar’s not the highest. But the Titans have made big strides of late, and the Texans are always close, and one day the Jaguars might deliver, so there’s pressure on the Colts not to fall farther behind.

45 responses to “PFT Preseason power rankings No. 26: Indianapolis Colts

  1. It all depends on Luck which is very concerning:
    –not even throwing yet
    –will he be able to throw as effectively as before?
    — how much more abuse can the man take?
    –maybe he was a little overrated anyway

  2. The offensive line started to come around late last year, so there is some hope for them. Defense got (and desperately needed) a major overhaul, but as mentioned, will need time to gel.

    Things are looking up in Indy and with one of the easiest schedules in the league they might surprise by doing slightly better than 8-8.

    Assuming Luck performs the way he did last year and doesn’t get hurt again.

  3. Kind of amazing to think the Colts have the quarterback considered the best prospect of his generation going into his seventh season.

    And they are likely to again be the third or fourth place team in the worst division in football.

  4. Yes coltstrong, the o-line is not the problem. For some reason the nationa media (who doesn’t even watch Colts games) always blames them for the team’s struggles

  5. I am a die-hard Colts fan for life. And yet I do not understand the optimism that my fellow Colts fans have for this year’s team. We largely replaced overpaid underperforming backups and journeyman with now cheaper underperforming backups and journeymen.

    Our entire division has loaded up with Dynamic offensive players that are at or near Superstar level. We, instead of building an offensive line that could protect luck or investing in a high-value running back to take the pressure off the passing game, decided to rebuild the defense from the ground up while only adding one above-average proven veteran to do so.

    The Colts are rebuilding. There’s no way around it. It will be quite a few years before we contend and that’s if Ballard gets everything right… And the jury is out so far on him.

  6. “The Colts have brought back largely the same line as last year, and that line wasn’t good enough then.”

    Luck might be on IR by Halloween……

  7. All that comfortable dome air (and ebullient support of the league), and these clowns will still struggle to keep pace with the awful Texans and whatever scarecrow they start at QB.

  8. I think it’s the curse of Robert Irsay. He moved the team from Baltimore (ripping the heart out of that city), and the Colts are forever cursed because of it. The Baltimore Colts were a great franchise. The Indianapolis Colts are not. I know they won a Super Bowl with Manning, but most of the time they’re a lousy ball club. I think that’s going to continue for a long time to come.

  9. Hiding Luck’s injuries from other teams was only a secondary reason why the Colts repeatedly lied about him on the Injury Reports – it was primarily to stave off fans’ disgust and the embarrassment of having sucked so hard for the next Peyton, spend all that money, and then break him. 26th seems about right.

  10. Pagano knows he is on the hot seat. That is why he is more focused than ever in getting that trick punt formation to work during a game.

  11. Luck not throwing at this point makes good, precautionary sense. Nothing to see there. If he is healthy and the D is improved they should be at least a middle of the league type team. You missed it by about ten spots.

  12. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    Jul 13, 2017 12:59 PM
    Luck may be done y’all.

    ———–

    Even if he is done…..he will still be better than any QB on your Jets’ squad…..

  13. smarter than you says:
    Jul 13, 2017 11:52 AM
    This is what the football gods do to you when you tank an entire season.
    —————————–

    They tanked in ’97 and ’11, the football gods sure do take their time

  14. lofty99 says:
    Jul 13, 2017 9:57 AM
    Plsss when are we all gonna agree that Andrew luck is overrated (not a bad Qb) and stop blaming the O line every time.

    Now early enough?

  15. “The Colts have brought back largely the same line as last year, and that line wasn’t good enough then.”

    Some forget that line was ranked #16 at the beginning of last season by PFF, and finished #25 due to needing to go to the bench far too often.

    Also, who else in the world has ever considered Gore as “underrated”?

  16. Andrew Luck is a younger version of Jay Cutler, but he is not as good looking as Cutler and does not have Type 1 Diabetes to fall back on, not that Cutler uses it as an excuse.

    Unlike Cutler, Luck benefits from playing Jax, the Titans and Texans 6 times EVERY YEAR, OMG. I guess he could blame his nasty neck beard but that’s his own choice!

  17. dumbpollack says:
    Jul 13, 2017 1:45 PM
    Hello, Jim Harbaugh

    —————————————
    It wouldn’t shock me in the least that after he gets bored at Michigan, that he looks for another opportunity in the NFL.

    The problem, of course, is that like Larry Brown was in the NBA, he can just decide to blow out of town after 3-4 years .

  18. The Colts finished 11-5 three years in a row, made it to the AFC Championship game, then added Frank Gore and put up back to back 8-8 seasons. They got in the all-too predictable habit of pounding Gore up the middle on first down, and ended up in 2nd 10, 2nd and 11 way too many times. Those are sure passing downs, and your QB gets killed. I guess Ryan Grigson was the one calling the plays, so they got rid of him. Chris Ballard is a nice guy, but I don’t see him sitting back allowing the same crap to take place this year. If I were the offensive coordinator, I’d be renting.

  19. This pick has probably got the greatest potential to be totally wrong. 26? The line is young, what were they supposed to do after whiffing on old guy after old guy.. Todd Harrimans and the ilk wasn’t the answer. They’ve got 3 guys up front who are solid and we’re waiting on the right side. It all depends on Luck- if he’s good, they’ll win 10/11. If he’s hurt it’s another 8-8 season (which would put them closer to 16? No?) Lame write up.

  20. 12444uggg says:
    Jul 13, 2017 3:30 PM

    This pick has probably got the greatest potential to be totally wrong. 26? The line is young, what were they supposed to do after whiffing on old guy after old guy.. Todd Harrimans and the ilk wasn’t the answer. They’ve got 3 guys up front who are solid and we’re waiting on the right side. It all depends on Luck- if he’s good, they’ll win 10/11. If he’s hurt it’s another 8-8 season (which would put them closer to 16? No?) Lame write up.
    ***************************
    Well at least one guy knows a little about what he’s talking about. The Colts had 3 or 4 rookies starting on the O-Line last year at various times, and the improvement from year 1 to year 2 for an O-Lineman is enormous. Toward the latter part of last season, those guys were really starting to come around. I think the #26 ranking is just to be funny. I see the Colts as a top 5 or 6 team, if Luck is healthy.

  21. Everyone puts down the Colts O-line, but they actually played pretty well at the end of last year, especially when you consider multiple rookies were starting.

    26 seems a little low when you look at the wide open division they play in.

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