New Faces in Indianapolis: Can Peyton Manning Hold the Colts Together?
Change is the order of the day in Indianapolis it seems, and for one of the most consistent franchises of the modern era it is time embark into uncharted waters.
The highly revered head coach Tony Dungy has departed, leaving former quarterback coach Jim Caldwell to step into his place. The change is undoubtedly a step down, but one advantage will be the relative familiarity Caldwell already has with the franchise, don't expect any major teething issues at the Luke.
With the departure of Marvin Harrison the Colts will no longer be able to rely on the highly successful tandem that terrorized defenses over the years, but in truth the tandem was never a force throughout the 2008 season, with Harrison struggling through injury issues.
The departure will likely be positive for Reggie Wayne, now the senior wide receiver, and Anthony Gonzalez has gone from strength to strength at Indy and is highly fancied to have another successful season.
Manning also has other options in tight end Dallas Clark and rookie receiver Austin Collie.
With the Colt's running offense stumbling to an abysmal record in 2008, there are high hopes that Joseph Addai will stay injury free. After a solid preseason from Addai and the addition of the highly promising rookie Donald Brown, expect the Colts' running offense to improve on their 31st ranking from last season.
On the quarterback front the teams figurehead remains, with Peyton Manning at the helm you can be assured that the Colts' pass offense will be running smoothly. The rookie slinger Curtis Painter has put in some solid performances in the preseason, and Manning's long time backup Jim Sorgi remains.
Defensively the Colts improved in 2008, and they possess one of the best past defenses in the league. With veterans Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis able to pressure opposing quarterbacks with ease, look to see plenty of sacks this year.
The Colts will welcome back corner Marlin Jackson, another weapon to combat the pass. The franchise have also tried to address the poor rushing defense, drafting Terrance Taylor and Fili Moala. Ed Johnson also returns, after being cut last season due to drug issues.
The Colts' defense could be considered to be a dark horse, without the star power of the offense they will no doubt be underrated by many but in truth the unit has strengthened considerably.
Whether or not the Colts' will be a Super Bowl contender remains to be seen, but with Peyton Manning at the helm don't discount the Colts' chances this season.
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