The Colts over the past 20 years have been one of the most dominant franchises in pro sports, thanks mostly in part to their consistent offensive play. Since the 1999 season, in which Peyton Manning played his second year, the Colts have made the postseason a total of 14 times and have only missed the postseason 3 times, including (most likely) this year. This type of dominance puts them on pace with royalesque franchises such as the Patriots and Steelers, who almost always seem to make the playoffs as well.
To say that the Colts feel a sense of entitlement is an understatement. Attending a Colts game at Lucas Oil stadium is to understand how it feels to be a Colts fan is a stark contrast to, say, Browns fans who are simply used to losing. A big part of the Colts winning ways can be contributed to their ‘draft offense first’ mentality. Their offensive dominance has lifted them up during tough games over the years.
That being said, the Colts days of dominance are nearing an end if they do not get things in order quickly. One very good reason the Colts have enjoyed such success for so long, besides elite offenses and high value defensive draft success stories, is the fact that their division is one of the weakest in pro-footbal. The Texans have only played since 2002, only making the playoffs twice, the Jaguars have won their division only once since 1999, and the woeful Titans have not made the postseason since 2008.
The Colts shouldn’t expect this trend to continue. The Texans are a franchise QB away from greatness, The Jaguars just need one or two more all-star defensive players to make a difference, and the Titans have possibly found a franchise QB and won’t be down for much longer. That being said, the Colts took a step backward this year.
In order for a return to greatness, the Colts are going to need a strong offseason. Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay need to move forward, understanding that their strategy of drafting a few veterans ‘with gas left in the tank’ simply didn’t work out (it rarely does). There was no Chemistry on offense this year on a team that should have been trending upward (many picked them to win the Superbowl this year). The’ve had a few injuries sure, but their coaching was poor and the Colts lost some games that were very winnable (Saints, Patriots).
In the draft, the Colts should look to bolster their offense, which has always been their focus, and find sign a few value added defensive free agents, particularly in the secondary where they face a division trending upwards in offensive capability. They are going to need 1) a true No.1 receiver to finally replace Marvin Harrison, or 2) a Todd Gurley like power runner, or 3) both. Their offensive line is mediocre, allowing sacks in the mid-range of the NFL. If they can possibly pick up a steal in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, it would be worth getting a new offensive lineman, but they should grab a good running back if available.
Indy is currently slated to pick 15th (1st round) and 46th (second round). Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss is currently the top receiver in the draft and is currently projected to be taken at the 18 slot. Running back Ezekiel Elliott from Ohio State is currently projected to go 25th to the Jets – could a trade be worked out to possibly move up and get him? Adding two big offensive rookies, along with a young Andrew Luck could bolster the Colts offense for years to come. Every subsequent draft could be used to add defensive players, having this offensive core in place.
As the division only looks to be tougher next year, Indianapolis must be competitive in this draft to take back the division title next year. With Pagano increasingly looking to be out, and a huge draft upcoming, the Colts are facing a huge transition year that could make or break them. They should stick with what has worked and brought them all those winning seasons – they need to boost their offense, leaving their division mates behind and keeping up with the rest of the AFC powerhouses.