With Tony Dungy’s departure, the question entering the minds of Colts fans and football fans nationwide is, “Will the Colts be who they have been for the past seven seasons?” The supposed answer to this question is, “Of course.”
At least, that is what most people believe.
I caught myself thinking, “As long as they have Manning, they’ll be okay.” That is a common thought among most people. However, it is certain that Dungy will be missed in Indy.
The heir-apparent is Associate Head Coach Jim Caldwell, who has been with Dungy for eight seasons (seven years with the Colts, one year with the Bucs). Caldwell has been the Colts' QB Coach and was promoted last offseason to associate head coach.
One thing that will remain with the Colts is continuity. Had the Colts gone elsewhere to look for a coach, i.e. Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan, I think they may have struggled for at least half of a season.
Cowher is someone that the Colts would have definitely considered because of his defensive presence. Thinking about a Steelers-type defense paired with an offense led by Manning is unfathomable.
What gives the Colts the best opportunity to maintain their success? I think continuity is the very key to that question. By keeping the same staff and the same players along with the same philosophy and game plan, you will be able to keep the success that the Colts have had for the past seven seasons with Dungy.
The Colts do not have many weaknesses to improve upon. However, like all teams, they do have a few, one of them being stopping the run.
The Colts have shown that they have a hard time stopping their opponent’s run game on any given Sunday. And they have shown that a huge key to that is safety Bob Sanders. It is not wise to completely rely on one man to stop the run and it is evident that the Colts need someone in the middle to clog up the lanes.
It is easy to say that if they had a defensive tackle capable of stopping the run, the Colts could have made it to the Super Bowl this season, with a weak AFC (or NFL, really). Their offensive line was a big factor in the Colts' success, or lack thereof, this season. Their offensive line must get better, mainly in the run game.
The Colts were not inept at running the football, and we all know they don’t have a running back to get them a 3rd-and-inches or a 4th-and-goal at the one-yard line. They were 31st in the league in rushing. That is not acceptable for a team aspiring to go to the Super Bowl.
Alright, so is Jim Caldwell the right guy for the job when it comes down to all the key factors? The answer is yes. Caldwell will maintain the excellence of Manning and the Colts, and I expect to see the Colts in the postseason in 2009.
However, for those Colts fans out there who are thinking about another title, there are some things the Colts must address first. The offensive and defensive lines are problems, especially in terms of the run game. This upcoming NFL draft, I expect to see the Colts look for a big DT to plug that running hole every running back seems to be running through when playing the Colts.
As a footnote, I would like to congratulate and thank Tony Dungy. He was a great coach, teacher, role model, etc. I think it is a big loss, not only for the Colts, but for the NFL, to see a great man walk away from the game.
Thank you, Tony, and may God bless you in your pursuit for happiness for you and your family.
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