It has been a busy offseason for the Colts so far. General manager Ryan Grigson has been busy spending the $43 million the Colts had in cap space. He has acquired around 11 new key players for the team.
Although I do not agree with the amount of money that Grigson has paid for several of the team’s new acquisitions, the Colts are looking good.
However, are they a lock for the AFC title this year?
First off, let’s remember how far the team went last season without all these new players. It was, for the most part, a very young team that managed to get to the Wild Card Round. This was a major feat for a rookie quarterback leading a team that had been 2-14 the previous season. Not to mention the head coach, Chuck Pagano, had been undergoing treatment for cancer and was absent for several games. Yet, despite this and other challenges, the team still made it to the AFC Wild Card game.
The New Team (thus far)
This season the team will be stronger than they were last season. Grigson has greatly improved the team on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
On the offensive side, the Colts have a new look offensive line. Grigson has made two key additions in Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus. Both these players should benefit the team greatly. Thomas, in particular, will help solidify the interior. The team also just signed a new wide receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, who will add a deep threat. Despite not knowing how well Heyward-Bey will play, he has to be better than Donnie Avery. Finally, the Colts signed Matt Hasselbeck as a backup quarterback. Matt will be integral in providing guidance to the young Andrew Luck.
I believe Grigson will add another linemen in the draft as the offensive line still needs some work. Furthermore, a new running back will most likely get picked up in the draft due to Pep Hamilton’s new offensive scheme.
Defensively, the Colts have undergone some changes as well. The Colts have added Aubrayo Franklin, Ricky Jean-Francois, Erik Walden, LaRon Landry, Lawrence Sidbury and Greg Toler. Both Franklin and Jean-Francois will help add some depth to the defensive line. The secondary will hopefully be stronger than last year with the addition of Toler. The draft will probably bring another cornerback as I have my doubts about Cassius Vaughn. Landry greatly improves the safety position for the Colts. We will have to wait and see if Erik Walden pans out for the Colts.
The AFC South
The Titans made some smart signings this offseason. They added Andy Levitre (who I would have loved to see as a Colt) and Delanie Walker. However, their quarterback is not the best at what he does. Jake Locker does not look like an AFC championship quarterback to me. However, the hiring of Bountygate’s Greg Williams could shake some things up for the team.
The Jaguars are not a threat to the Colts. They are in a major rebuilding phase and are not going to be up to challenging any team. They have a lot of work to do from their 2-14 season last year.
The Texans are the real threat to the Colts. Considering the Colts beat the Texans last season to reduce them to a No. 3 seed in the playoffs, I have faith in the Colts this season. The Texans were stronger defensively last season. They were missing some offensive weapons and still are in the offseason. The Texans have not done very much to fill their holes thus far. (I do not believe that Ed Reed will be a big impact player this season). The Colts were struggling defensively but have worked to rectify that situation. I believe the Colts can beat the Texans if the new team gels well together.
The Entire AFC
I have faith that the Colts can win the AFC South title. The AFC title on the other hand is a lot different. There are a lot of teams out there that I still believe are stronger than the Colts. The Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots are two of those teams that will give the Colts a run for their money. A lot of this comes back to experience and cohesion. The Colts picked up a lot of players that may or may not make a big difference (Greg Toler, Erik Walden and Darius Heyward-Bey). If the players do not click, the entire team will not function as a whole. The team most likely needs a season and a few more key players to win the title.
It is too soon to tell how far the Colts will go. Once the draft is complete, a more accurate view of just how strong the Colts are will be revealed.