While it lasted, the Colts 2012-13 season was a great and surprising one that ended in an 11-5 regular season record and a trip to the postseason.
However, once in the postseason, it became a different ballgame. While Andrew Luck still managed to impress, the rest of the team seemed a bit lost during the game, resulting in a 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Despite the very bitter ending to an otherwise sweet season, the Colts and their fans have a bright future ahead of them as long as Luck is under center. But more will be needed for this team to make the leap in 2013.
While I do expect them to make the leap, here are some pieces that the Colts will need in order to do just that. Luckily for them, they not only have a bright star at quarterback in Luck and a great coach in Chuck Pagano, but they also have general manager Ryan Grigson, who should undoubtedly become this year's NFL Executive of the Year.
Grigson and the Colts will likely fill these needs this offseason, so let's take a look at what they are.
How easy has it been for defenses to dominate the interior of the Colts' offensive line?
It seemed like, more often than not, Andrew Luck found himself running for his life against aggressive defenses attempting to knock him into the ground.
While Luck often succeeded in evading the pass rush and avoiding sacks, it would also lead to some mistakes from the rookie quarterback at times, and it put him at a bigger risk than otherwise necessary.
This glaring hole in the Colts' line was exposed by the Baltimore Ravens, who made their living attacking Luck during their Wild Card contest.
While the whole offensive line could use some help, it's the guard position that should be a priority. After all, most of the pass rush comes from the inside, as Indianapolis' exterior lineman do a decent job at containing the pass rushers.
If the team beefs up the interior, we will see different results for the Colts in 2013.
Running the football against the Indianapolis Colts: so easy even the New York Jets could do it.
The Colts finished 29th in the league against the run this season, giving up an average of 137.5 yards per game.
This is obviously something that the whole defense will have to work on (and more pieces Indianapolis should add on defense will be addressed later), but it starts with the defensive line—specifically at nose tackle.
In the 3-4 defense run by the Colts, the nose tackle is the focal point of the line. Right now, the spot is occupied by second-year player Martin Tevaseu, and while he has shown flashes at times, Indianapolis could afford to upgrade at the position.
But nose tackle isn't the only position on defense where Indianapolis could use some help, though.
While I already mentioned Indianapolis' guard play—as well as how their exterior linemen have done a decent job)—they would still be well served making an upgrade to Andrew Luck's blindside.
Pictured above is Jake Long, who had an uneven season at left tackle for the Miami Dolphins prior to missing the final four games of the season with an injury. Part of the reason for his struggles with the Dolphins can be attributed to the change to a zone blocking scheme used in the West Coast offense, a scheme that's not employed as much by the Colts.
Long would fit in well with Indianapolis' offensive line, and he would be the leader that the line needs to better protect Luck in the future. He will cost a pretty penny, but if he can return to the form he showed from his rookie season in 2008 and up until 2011, he would give Indianapolis a great return on investment.
The Colts linebacking corps can best be described as solid overall, but not spectacular.
Depth is most certainly needed at this position. While Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney do well on the outside, they are getting up there in age and the Colts will have to find their replacements soon.
As for the interior linebackers, the Colts will also need to beef up that position. As mentioned earlier, running the ball against the Colts has been one of the few ways to defeat this team in 2012, and fortifying their run defense in the interior is a must for the Colts in 2013.
It doesn't only entail the defensive line, but the interior linebackers as well.
At first glance, wide receiver isn't a glaring need for Indy. T.Y. Hilton shows a lot of potential, and Reggie Wayne was his reliable self in 2012.
However Hilton would better serve the Colts out of the slot, Wayne also needs a wide receiver that cannot only line up on the opposite side of him, but also become his heir apparent.
There will be plenty of opportunities for the Colts to find that wide receiver in the upcoming draft. While the position isn't as big of a need as the offensive line and the defense, it's still a need that will have to be addressed. Donnie Avery has shown flashes this season, but he's not No. 1, or even No. 2, receiver material.
Indianapolis needs that second big-time threat at the wideout position in order to fully utilize what Andrew Luck brings to the table.