It's Not Luck ... The COLTS Are Just Good!
By Tom Barton
We told all of our listeners 3 weeks ago that the team to watch would be the Indianapolis Colts. THREE wins in a row, decimating the Jags D, and humiliating the red hot Titans - Indianopolis is turning heads.
What a story they have been! Fodder for punch lines as the updates for Andrew Luck read like something out of an Onion article. "Andre Luck picked up a football today", "Luck is thinking about throwing this week", and "Luck doesn't think he needs to throw the football to play well". Yes these were legit headlines. That was just a year after last years embarrassing headlines where ownership kept telling fans Luck would be back ... and then never returned.
But while the ownership had egg on it's face and everyone worried about Luck, behind the scenes genius was at work and a plan started to take effect. For years the big concern was about how bad this offensive line was. 2 drafts ago the Colts began a plan to change that. They drafted a center in the first round. Kelly out of Alabama was considered the best center in the draft, but rarely do you see teams taking a center in the first round. That was just the start. This ownership also started to shed contracts and shed them in a hurry. This past draft not only did the Colts draft Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in the first two rounds, but they also grabbed Darius Leonard. Then they took Jordan Wilkens and Nyheim Hines late.
We spoke about the New York Giants drafting Barkely instead of Darnold but as I mentioned to Gary Myers, I thought before Darnold and Barkley, the best player was Nelson. An offensive lineman is never the sexy pick but for the Colts (and possibly for the Giants) he would have been the right pick. Nelson just won the Rookie of the Week award. The same award that Barkley, Darnold, Mayfield and others could have won. But instead it went to an offensive lineman. Leonard? Well he leads the NFL in tackles. And let's be honest here - NONE of these picks were easy "no brainers". Sports Illustrated graded the Nelson pick a D+ grade and many other publications graded the past two drafts as D or similar grades.
What has this offense line done? Only keep Andrew Luck clean, and by clean, I mean no sacks since week 5, and we've watched Luck dominate in recent weeks. Luck now has 7 straight weeks with 3 or more TD's and Marlon Mack, Hines, and Wilkens have added a very solid ground game. This management also added key contributors like Eric Ebron and kept TY Hilton happy.
So what do we think of this Indy team moving forward? They have playoff hopes and I think they can get there - but 2019 is what we should be focused on. This management has been able to create the 2nd most cap money at close to $100 million to spend on free agents. If Nelson, Leonard and the running game keep growing and Luck is kept healthy, we have a legit Super Bowl contender.