It’s Week 18 in the NFL, which marks the end for 18 out of 32 teams. Sadly, our beloved Colts will be onlookers as the postseason rolls in next week. This season started with high expectations but was met with a crushing reality. So, let’s break down some highs and lows from this season.
Colts Defense Shows Glimmer Of Hope
Gus Bradley came into this season on a mission for his defense, and he has not disappointed. Indy’s newly acquired Defensive Coordinator speared headed the most improved side of the ball. With contributing off-season pick-ups like Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue, Bradley has built a steady foundation that appears to be trending in the right direction. Along with General Manager Chris Ballard, Bradley put pieces on the chess board that could make this unit stout and dependable.
New stars were born this year on the defensive side of the ball, most notably Grover Stewart and Zaire Franklin. Due to the absence of All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard, Zaire provided solid numbers to fill in the space left empty by Leonard. Franklin played outstanding this year! In my opinion, he should be a Pro Bowler. Currently, fourth in leading tackles (160), Franklin has proven to be a sizeable replacement and a bonified starter. Grover Stewart (also who should be a Pro Bowler) caused havoc on the defensive line this season—constantly disrupting offensive play calls with Deforest Buckner and crew.
Colts Defensive Lineman ‘Shocked’ About Pro Bowl Snub
There will be some questions in the offseason that should be answered with this defense. Cornerback depth is one of them. Outside of Stephon Gilmore, there has been inconsistent play from all the cornerbacks, including the recently resigned Kenny Moore II. The team should go heavy in free agency to bring that complementary corner opposite Gilmore. The way the front seven has been producing pressure and turnovers, having two solid corners will only ensure some sense of dominance. Moore II is still a valuable asset to the team, but I would not be surprised if the group decided to move on from him in the offseason.
The mixture of young talent and experienced vets is an excellent recipe for a successful 2023 season on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, a good defense is predicated on health, and execution is the most significant part of success, but regarding expectations, things look suitable for the Colts’ defense in 2023. Bobby Okereke, Isaiah Rodgers, and Kwity Paye get honorable mentions for their performances this year.
Colts Coaching Search
There is no question that the most important question heading into this offseason is who will be the head coach for the Colts in 2023. There are a lot of speculation and rumors, but one thing is for sure, we need a leader! Someone who can grab the attention and rebuild morale in the locker room. Someone who can see the vision even when the pieces are not set in place. My initial thoughts are that Indy should go for a coach with head coaching experience. Still, I believe that some candidates that are coordinators (Eric Bieniemy, DeMeco Ryans) have shown the ability and creativity to be head coaches.
Frank Reich’s stent as Head Coach ended abruptly earlier in the season. With a 41-39-1 record, Reich was subject to a yearly quarterback carousel that never panned out. In addition, his play calling and time management were sore spots that were ultimately a part of his firing. Insert former Colt center as interim head coach, Jeff Saturday, most believe to be a stop-gap, who has done close to nothing to improve the outlook on the Colts’ known winning culture. Jim Irsay needs to bring in someone that will be effective and hopefully long-tenured.
Colts Offensive Struggles Concerning
The 2022 season was a complete nightmare from the first snap for Indianapolis’s offense. With the new addition to Colts’ ongoing quarterback carousel, Matt Ryan was a huge disappointment. While this was true, he wasn’t the biggest disappointment; the offensive line was atrocious! They were the beginning of many failed conversions, closed running lanes, and QB turnovers and sacks all season. Even the sole Pro Bowl selection Quenton Nelson has had struggling moments that are uncharacteristic of him. However, the receiving core has shown promise along with the tight-end group. Both have exciting and young talent that will blossom.
Brutal Truth: The Colts Must Move On From Matt Ryan
Although this season was not what anyone in Colts Nation predicted, it is, as always with me, a cup-half-full moment. It’s clear that the offense needs work and the head coach needs to be upgraded, but there are some lessons learned in our grief. Offensive line depth is essential and should not be taken for granted. Drafting players that can contribute when their number is called is crucial. Jonathan Taylor is unique, but he is not a robot, and we need another solid back to spell him, similar to Kareem Hunt in Cleveland. Only time will tell what this franchise will do to improve the below-average showing for 2022.