Indianapolis Colts' State of the Union: Quarter-Season Review
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Four games into the career of Andrew Luck, and the local fans couldn't be happier.
Luck has already shown a flair for the dramatic, and the Colts have matched their 2011 win total after just four weeks.
Here's a quarter-season report on the Colts.
Luck has been everything he was promised early on. His overall play has been league-average, and for a rookie, that's outstanding.
Wayne, likewise, has been dominant as he threatens to post career highs in all major categories.
Robert Mathis has been a stalwart on defense, registering sacks in every game.
The combined play of Mathis and Wayne shows exactly why both veterans were retained amidst a whole-roster purge that saw most other big-name Colts hit the pavement.
Pat MacAfee has had a brilliant four games punting as well.
Donald Brown has done serviceable work at running back behind a weak offensive line.
Other than Luck and Wayne everything else on the Indy roster has been a mess.
The offensive line is terrible, though Luck compensates for it with his feet and pocket presence. Injuries have taken their toll, as the Colts rotate guards as if the starting lineup was a pick-and-roll.
The wide receivers other than Wayne have not been good. T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery each posted one nice start, but have otherwise struggled to get open and catch the ball reliably.
The young tight ends have played well at times, but Coby Fleener hasn't shown good hands and Dwayne Allen is still being used heavily in pass protection.
The defense has been a problem by and large. The bright side is that what was expected to be a bottom-five unit is more like a bottom-10 unit.
The Colts generate little pressure without blitzing and have shown no ability to generate turnovers. With just three forced turnovers, Indianapolis ranks 30th.
The Colts have been run over on the ground, allowing 4.7 yards a rush (26th in the NFL).
Against the pass, they've been much better than expected, allowing 6.7 N/YPA. That's only 21st in the NFL, but considering how porous the secondary looks on paper, it's an improvement.
The Colts have already won two games, and the schedule is riddled with winnable contests. Indy still has home games against the Dolphins, Browns, Bills and Titans. Their Week 17 game comes against the Texans who will likely have the division sewn up.
Andrew Luck should only get better and if the offensive line can ever get healthy, the overall level of play of the offense should improve.
The Colts are still a painfully young team, and week-by-week improvement should be palpable. As the other rookies get better, this could be a tough team to beat by the end of the year.
They lost to Jacksonville, so looking at the schedule and chalking up a "W" is utterly arrogant.
The Colts bear much more resemblance to the team that played the first half against Green Bay than the team that played the second half.
There's no indication the defense is good enough to compete, and the offense is just Wayne and Luck. When teams take away Reggie Wayne, there will be no one for Luck to throw to, and the offense will grind to a halt.
The emotion over Chuck Pagano carried the team to an unlikely victory, but actual physical loss of the head coach will hurt more than help in the long run.
Indy isn't likely to beat the Jets or anyone else on the road and as the loss to Jacksonville proved, wins over the Browns and Titans will be hard fought at best.
Other than Luck, it's difficult to look at the rest of the Indianapolis roster and think they are better than expected.
The biggest advantage Indianapolis has moving forward is that the bulk of the teams they play are markedly worse than previously thought. Tennessee, Buffalo and the Jets are all down from where people thought preseason.
It was easy to look at the Indianapolis schedule before the season and see them at 3-3 or even 4-4 halfway through the year, and that's still the case.
After Week 9, however, the road gets much more challenging for Indy, and unless they improve in all facets of the game, the ceiling is probably no higher than seven wins.
At this point, a projection of six wins for the Colts seems reasonable. That would put them on the high end of preseason guesses and represent a step forward for a franchise that picked first in the draft in 2012.
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