Thursday, August 13, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Indianapolis Colts
2008 RECORD: 12-4
(2nd in AFC South)
HEAD COACH: Jim Caldwell
Key Additions: LB Adam Seward (FA/Panthers)
Key Losses: WR Marvin Harrison (FA) CB Keiwan Ratliff (FA/Steelers) RB Dominic Rhodes (FA/Bills)
Offense: Peyton Manning.
The name is synonymous with the Colts.
In 2009, Manning returns for his 12th season as Colts starting quarterback. In 2008, Manning was his usual brilliant self, throwing for 4,002 yards and 27 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions.
The wide receivers Manning throws to have changed a bit for the new season as Marvin Harrison, Manning's favorite target for many seasons, is no longer with the Colts.
Reggie Wayne is the man in Indianapolis now and comes off a solid season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,145 yards and six touchdowns.
Anthony Gonzalez is the "other" target and he had 57 catches (664 yards and four TDs) in 2008. Meanwhile, Dallas Clark returns as the primary Tight End after posting big numbers a year ago when he had 77 grabs for 848 yards and six touchdowns. Gijon Robinson is the "blocking" tight end for the Colts.
The running game sees Joseph Addai getting a much larger slice of the action as NFL '09 looms large.
Addai was banged up a year ago, but still managed to rush for 544 yards and five touchdowns. The Colts did not choose to re-sign Dominic Rhodes, who shuffled off to Buffalo, and Addai has to remain healthy if the Colts are to have a solid running game in 2009.
The backup running backs are Donald Brown (rookie draft pick from Connecticut), Mike Hart, Lance Ball and Chad Simpson.
The offensive line is intact as Jeff Saturday returns as the center. The guards are Ryan Lilja and Mike Pollak and the tackles are Tony Ugoh and Ryan Diem.
Defense: The Indianapolis defense has been vastly under rated for a few seasons now and they just do not get the same respect it seems as the offense does.
The Colts ranked 11th overall in total defense in 2008, allowing 311 yards per game, with the pass defense being the strength (188 yards allowed per game) of the team. The run defense was weak and allowed an average of 123 yards per game, which was 24th in the NFL.
Indy employs a 4-3 defense and up front will be tackles Keyunta Dawson and Fili Moala and ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, both of whom had double digit sack totals in 2008. Mathis led the Colts with 11.5 sacks while the incomparable Freeney had 10.5 sacks.
The linebackers are solid and feature Gary Brackett in the middle with Phillip Wheeler and Clint Session on the outside.
Defensive front subs include Raheem Brock, Antonio Johnson, Eric Foster and Marcus Howard. Backup linebackers are Adam Seward, Tyjuan Hagler and Jordan Senn.
The defensive backs are top notch, evidenced by their overall ranking against the pass in '08.
Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden are the cornerbacks and the safeties are Antoine Bethea (free) and strong safety Bob Sanders.
The defense also finished at seventh in the NFL in points allowed, giving up just 298 points for the 2008 season.
OUTLOOK: The Colts will likely battle Tennessee once again for the AFC South division title after giving up their reign as division champions. The Colts need to figure out how to advance in the post-season as they have lost in their first playoff game for the last two seasons.
Manning and company will continue to move the football and score points. They led the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage in '08, so scoring is not a problem.
The running game has to improve though as the Colts ranked next to last place in the NFL in rushing a year ago and if Addai can bounce back, that would definitely help.
The defense is solid and has actually been a positive force the past few seasons, in particular during the Colts' post-season run following 2006 when they won Super Bowl XLI.
New Head Coach Jim Caldwell takes over for the retired Tony Dungy and has a lot to look forward to in the 2009 season.
The Colts know they can make another run toward the Super Bowl but they no longer have the capacity they once did to strike fear into their opponents come game day.
This is fast becoming a veteran (or aging) team that knows how to win in the regular season, but not in the post-season.
For the Colts to go further in the post-season, they have to put it together the way they do for 16 games. They seem to shoot themselves in the foot for whatever reason come playoff time the past two seasons.
Can they get back to the Super Bowl?
Perhaps, but it's doubtful it will happen this year, what with defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh, New England and San Diego (the team that has knocked them out of the playoffs two years in a row) looming in the AFC.
Not to mention the Colts are going to be in a dog fight all season long in their own division with Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston.
The Colts will likely make the playoffs again after going 11-5 but, just like the past two seasons, will not make it to the big game.
Week 1- vs. Jacksonville (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Miami (Sept. 21)
Week 3- at Arizona (Sept. 27)
Week 4- vs. Seattle (Oct. 4)
Week 5- at Tennessee (Oct. 11)
Week 6- BYE WEEK
Week 7- at St. Louis (Oct. 25)
Week 8- vs. San Francisco (Nov. 1)
Week 9- vs. Houston (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. New England (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Baltimore (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Houston (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. Tennessee (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. Denver (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at Jacksonville (Dec. 17)
Week 16- vs. NY Jets (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at Buffalo (Jan. 3)