Indianapolis Colts 2019 Season Preview

Russell S. Baxter

Indianapolis Colts 2019 Season Preview

By Rob Voigt

Special to Pro Football Guru

As of this writing, Andrew Luck had not practiced at training camp due to a calf strain. Has Jacoby Brissett improved his decision-making, timing and accuracy since he played 15 games in 2017 – this while Luck was rehabbing his throwing shoulder? Head coach Frank Reich’s Eagles’ offense won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback before. General manager Chris Ballard has acquired depth and athletes across the roster to be able to win games with the defense or the running game carrying the load during regular season. Luck will be needed for the Colts to win more than one playoff game.

Offense: This is a solid unit up front, led by All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson as well as Anthony Costanzo, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith – the latter part of the team’s 2018 draft class like Nelson. The line’s performance dictates what the offense can do. Whoever the quarterback may be will need time to throw. Marlon Mack will need holes to run through to have a 1,000 yards rushing. Nyheim Hines can be a weapon out of backfield. Free-agent signee Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell were added to help wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Wideouts Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson and Deon Cain are all battling for roster spots, while the tight end position is solid with Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox. This past season the Colts scored the fifth-most points in the league.

Defense: Free agent signee and pass-rushing standout Justin Houston may be the only new starter on a young and promising defense. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, safety Khari Willis and linebacker Bobby Okereke are draft picks that will look to earn starting spots. Pass rushers E.J. Speed, Ben Banogu and Gerri Green were all selected to help pressure opposing quarterback. All-Pro Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard will lead coordinator Matt Eberflus’ unit. The Colts ranked 10th in the NFL in fewest points allowed (344) and finished with a respectable 26 takeaways in 2018. Cornerback Kenny Moore was signed to a contract extension with the hopes he will become a leading slot corner. Safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers look to remain healthy. When on the field, both play at high levels within the scheme. The line is deep and athletic with Tyquan Lewis, Denico Autry and Margus Hunt returning.

Special Teams: The NFL’s all-time leading scorer, placekicker Adam Vinatieri, returns for his 24th season. Rigoberto Sanchez returns to handle kickoff and punting duties. The Colts led the AFC in net punting average last season. Those vying for return duties this summer are Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Nyheim Hines and Parris Campbell.

Prediction: Assuming Luck starts Week 1, look for the Colts to dethrone the Texans as AFC South division champs. Indianapolis figures to finish with a 7-1 home record, while the road schedule is more difficult. The team hopes to battle the Patriots, Chiefs and Chargers for home field advantage in the conference. It would take some fortunate bounces and good team health to be a Top 2 seed. Look for the Colts to secure the No. 3 spot in the AFC and winning in the wild card and divisional rounds before losing the conference title game away from home.

Win-Loss Record: 11-5 (1st Place, AFC South, lose AFC Championship Game)

Rob Voigt (@ColtsFnSnceBert) is a freelance football writer.

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