The Indianapolis Colts looked poise to join the AFC elite going into the 2019 season. They were however rocked with the sudden news of QB Andrew Luck’s retirement just before the season and never recovered. They enlisted the help of aging veteran QB Phillip Rivers to see if he has one last ride in him for 2020. In Week 3 the Jets go to Indy as their brutal start to the season continues…
Coaching – Frank Reich is one of the best offensive minds in football. He was instrumental for Philadelphia in 2017 as their OC making Carson Wentz look like an MVP Candidate and help guide Nick Foles to a Super Bowl victory. He got the Colts job in 2018 and coming off major shoulder surgery Andrew Luck had the best year of his career under Reich. Matt Eberflus the Colts DC is looked at as a HC in waiting around the league. He helped turn around a defense that was among the worst in the NFL in 2017 into one of the league’s most promising units in such a short turnaround.Personnel – The Colts made a big splash this offseason in acquiring DT Deforest Buckner to anchor their defense. Buckner is one of the best players in his position and has a very strong argument as the best interior defensive linemen not named Aaron Donald. Darius Leonard has been an All-Pro in both his seasons and Justin Houston is still a savvy veteran presence on the edge. They also have young players like CB Rock Ya Sin and LB Bobby Okereke who are primed to take big steps forward in their second years.
The Colts have the best offensive line in football. Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelley are 2 of the 10 best Interior offensive linemen in the NFL and Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith have an argument as the best offensive tackle duo in football. They added standout RB Jonathan Taylor in the draft to pair with Marlon Mack. TY Hilton remains one of the most underrated WR’s in the league and will be fully healthy this year after struggling with injuries in 2019. This offense will come down to how much Phillip Rivers has left in the tank. Rivers played behind one of the worst offensive lines in 2019. He now gets to play behind the best one in 2020 and given his experience playing under Reich earlier in his career in San Diego Rivers is now in a much better position to look like the efficient QB he was in 2018.
Potential Weaknesses – If you had to find one glaring weakness with the Colts it would have to be their secondary. In 2020 they will be relying on a lot of young unproven players to play big time snaps for them. There is going to be limited reps this offseason and it could take a while for the unit to fully jell which can benefit the Jets as they play the Colts so early in the season. The other weakness would be if Phillip Rivers really is cooked. Rivers is a statue in the pocket and we have really seen in recent years’ teams look for QB’s who have at least some mobility. If Rivers arm really is shot and he cannot be the effective precision passer, he was for so long the Colts are going to struggle to win football games.
Matchup with the Jets – The Jets vs Colts game is going to come down to if the Jets can stop the Colts rushing attack. So much of Reich’s offense is based on establishing the run so then play action can be used to attack opposing defenses. If the Jets can stop the run, they can force Rivers to beat them on his own and he has always been a guy to make a mistake or two. The main weakness on the Jets’ offense is the receiver group.Breshad Perriman is an absolute wildcard and Denzel Mims is going to take his lumps as a rookie especially early in the season. With the Colts weak secondary and the Jets weak WR group one is going to have to win out and whichever one does is going to be vital for the team that is going to pull out the victory that day. Sam Darnold is undefeated in dome stadiums with an average passer rating of 116.8. If he can keep up those efficient numbers and outplay Phillip Rivers there is a path to victory on the Jets on the road Week 3 in Indy.