The Indianapolis Colts are coming off yet another comeback victory. This time against their division rival, Tennessee Titans. The win helped the Colts achieve a 3 game lead in the AFC South and be in very good position to win the division. But it was another ugly start in a week where the team looked unprepared, yet again.
The Colts are 7-3, but most of those victories have come on the shoulders of their fantastic quarterback, Andrew Luck. The team hasn’t looked impressive, as a whole, since the Denver Broncos game before the bye week. So, what is this team? Where are they headed the rest of the season?
I will give credit where credit is due: Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton called a great game. He is learning about life in the NFL and it gives me hope that he can be a solid coordinator for years to come.
Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon has had a fantastic year coaching all season. His special teams has come up with big play after big play and it could be argued his unit has been as important as Luck himself. Hiring McMahon was one of the best moves of the off-season.
Then there’s defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. I will admit that I was not a huge fan of the hire the minute it happened. And it seems that he is proving me right, week in and week out. The best unit on the defense, though they’ve had a few rough games, has been the secondary, which is head coach Chuck Pagano’s specialty. So that can’t be attributed to Manusky, considering Pagano is so hands on with his defense, especially with the back line.
Manusky’s defense looked so unprepared heading into this game that they had to call a timeout only a few plays into the first drive. That is not the kind of coaching you want on a contending team. Manusky should be on the hot seat come this off-season.
Speaking of contending, are these Colts super bowl contenders? I believe that, by season’s end, they will be. They are a very, very young team, especially since the Reggie Wayne injury, and they are progressing each week. Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton have stepped into more prominent roles and are showing signs of becoming the studs Colts fans have hoped they would. Griff Whalen seems to be getting more comfortable each week playing in an NFL setting, and he could become a reliable third down target along with Fleener.
And most importantly, Darrius Heyward-Bey is FINALLY becoming less involved in the offense. This was a key component of the Colts
progressing on the offensive side of the ball and it seems it is happening, at last. Now it is time for the big bodied Da’Rick Rogers to step in and become that aggressive receiver that this team needs.
A major talking point, since the victory on Thursday, has been the play at running back. Donald Brown has looked like a feature back while Trent Richardson has struggled to gain more than three yards at a time. Richardson looks uncomfortable and needs more time with this offensive line; he just doesn’t trust them yet. In the meantime, it would be in the Colts’ best interest to start Brown. He has been great and could help the Colts establish that power running game that they so crave. Look for Brown to start next week in Arizona.
I like the way this offense is progressing and once cornerback Greg Toler comes back on defense, they should be back on the path they were before the bye week.
As long as this team can run the ball like they did on Thursday and bring back their defensive play to the level it was at before the bye, this is a team to fear come playoff time. With the greatness and clutchness of Luck, there is no limit on how far this team can go. I believe this squad is a super bowl contender and they will definitely be in the mix, come 2014.