The expectations for the Indianapolis Colts are pretty low. After a 2-14 season where they were lucky to win two and should have gotten blown out more than they did the outlook is not a peachy one in the Circle City. Tack on the fact that the team got rid of almost all of its recognizable veterans and the situation could be downright depressing.
What fans don't realize is that these Colts are not the same Colts that "sucked for Luck." In fact, these guys might surprise a few people.
Without Peyton Manning the holes on the Colts squad were many and obvious last season. In came a new coaching regime and out went a lot of players. When the team reported for camp 60 of the reporting players were entering their first camp with the Colts; 37 of them have yet to play an NFL game.
Having so many new players on the team could make it so hard for the players to gel. With that in mind it would not be shocking for the Colts to look much like the group that was out there last year. However, with the addition of some key veterans to go with the ones that the team retained it may not be that hard after all.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are back to lead the defense, but as linebackers instead of down linemen. Cory Redding followed new head coach Chuck Pagano over from Baltimore to anchor the defensive line. Fifth round pick Josh Champan could help out on the line as well with Antoine Bethea and Tom Zbikowski leading the way for the secondary.
Chances are good that Pagano will put together a defense that can slow some people down. The trick, and what the world will tune in to watch, will be Andrew Luck. As the No 1 pick and the most heralded QB to come out of college since John Elway the expectations are high.If the news out of camp is right, it sounds like he may back some of them up as early as this season. New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had this to say about his new protege:
(Luck) has a little bit of Peyton, a little bit of Timmy Couch and a little bit of Ben. It’s scary how good he can be. I’m really anxious to see him develop and watch him grow because he’s got the best of all three of those guys.
The Couch reference might not be what most people want to hear, but being grouped with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger is pretty high praise. When you consider that the praise is coming from the guy that helped Big Ben go 13-0 as a rookie. If he can do it with Ben, there is no reason to thing he can't have better luck with--well, Luck.
His trouble will come in the form of his offensive line and running game. The last time the Colts had a good running game was in 2005, Edgerinn James's last season. Since then they have leaned on Peyton Manning. His skill and uncanny knack for knowing when to pass helped hide the holes that permeated the offensive line as well as the lack of a running game.
For a new quarterback to succeed he needs to have the time to survey the field. That comes from two things--blocking and fear of the run. Teams are aware that the Colts typically have a weak line and running game, and will likely look to blitz Luck early and often. Whether the Colts will be able to combat the blitz and give Luck what he needs remains to be seen.
It will be difficult for the Colts to win this year. Too many things have to work in their favor for them to have a chance. However, if they do get a little bit of luck (Luck) shining down upon them they might be able to ruin a few Sundays for their opponents!