The 2010-11 Indianapolis Colts were a miracle defined.
A miracle in the sense that it took one of those just to get the Colts where they finished, 10-6, and a first-round playoff exit to the New York Jets. Not exactly a great moment, and I know losing to the Jets has not yet stopped stinging.
When you consider the obstacles and the numerous injuries the Colts endured all season long, it would be generous to say last season was barely a success. For the Colts and their fans, it did not meet expectations they had entering the 2010-11 season as the defending AFC champions.
I believe there were too many things they had to overcome and too many omens. The thought of some sort of Super Bowl hangover was consistently on the minds of Colts fans throughout last year.
However, the past is the past, and I personally am beyond excitement for this upcoming season, for a number of reasons.
I have sat and speculated for hours on how this season could truly be something special.
Thus, in this, my inaugural article, I present to you readers five reasons why this season is going to be special. These are the things the average Colts fans will think about, but be afraid to say out loud.
I am here to be the first to say them.
Many might say these are outlandish theories. But when the Super Bowl is over and done with, you will all be witness and will remember who said it first.
With that being said, here are my five "boldest of the bold" predictions for a season that will culminate in victory on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
With the 22nd overall selection in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo from Boston College.
This is going to be one of those "remember when" moments.
Castonzo, at 6'7" and 311 lbs, is not only a massive physical specimen, but he happens to be highly intelligent.
During his time at Boston College, he majored in Biochemistry and was a Rhodes Scholar, widely considered to be one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.
With his physical and intellectual talents put to task, it will quickly become evident that Castonzo is prepared. He will excel in the tutelage he receives from two of the game's best—future Hall Of Fame center Jeff Saturday and, of course, Peyton Manning.
Once he comprehends our intricate offense, he will be the starter at left tackle from Day 1 of this upcoming season. He will also dominate at his position, quickly proving that he is going to be one of the premier left tackle in the NFL for years to come.
I predict Castonzo to give up less than five sacks in his rookie year and maintain a consistent supremacy throughout the season.
He will make the NFL All-Rookie first team, and will be voted into the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Indianapolis Colts fans have been looking for a void filler since Tarik Glenn retired in 2007, and he has finally arrived.
After this season when you mention Jake Long, D'Brickashaw Ferguson or Joe Thomas, you won't forget to mention Anthony Castonzo.
When the Indianapolis Colts drafted running back Donald Brown in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, an abundant number of Colts fans thought that they may finally have found the successor to Edgerrin James.
Many Colts fans had begun to grow weary of starting running back Joseph Addai and his inability to become the star they had envisioned.
Enter Brown, a 5'10" 210 pound, pass-catching bruiser who had just finished his junior campaign at UConn with 1,822 rushing yards. This was good enough for first all time in rushing yards in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
That impressive stat and the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award made him an exciting option with high expectations to meet upon his arrival in Indianapolis.
He has consistently failed to meet any of those expectations.
In two seasons with the Colts, he has been nothing but a let down, showing minimal flashes of quality, but mostly having a flair for being injury prone.
It is safe to say that he has been a complete bust in his NFL career thus far.
He has also been less than stellar in terms of handling the duties expected of a running back in our system, which include pass blocking, adjusting to numerous audibles, and excellent pass-catching ability.
This is a trend Indianapolis can ill-afford to have continue and expect to be perennial playoff and Super Bowl contenders.
Which is why I predict that once the NFL lockout dust has settled, the Colts brass will decide to part ways with the former first-round pick.
However, the main reason behind it will be to pave the way for the new savior to our destitute running back situation.
Which brings me to my next slide.
Delone Carter, the Indianapolis Colts rookie running back, is poised for big things this year.
Carter, a fourth-round selection in this year's NFL Draft out of Syracuse University, is a bruising, downhill, runner that Indy has lacked for quite sometime.
But watch him in person or on film, and you will see he is much more than that.
Carter brings explosive agility and precise feet that can stop and turn on a dime. When you mix that with his power, it creates a perfect package in a pure NFL running back.
When you get past the "negatives" he carries with him, such as questions about the long-term condition of his hip after suffering a devastating injury to it in 2007 and minor legal trouble for assault you begin to see his worth
Carter, who checks in at 5'10" and 220 lbs, is an absolute man-beast.
This is why he was drafted to supplant the Colts glut of running backs who can't live up to expectations, like Joseph Addai and Donald Brown.
With all that in mind, I expect Carter to flourish once he adapts to our system. Rest assured, he will improve himself in his lesser areas such as run blocking and pass catching, and over the course of the season, he will become the focal point of our running game.
Once the 2011-2012 season is in the books, my prediction is that Colts fans will see Delone Carter with just over 1,000 yards rushing and somewhere between 9-11 touchdowns on the ground.
They will also finally see a physically reliable and powerful running back not seen since the days of Edgerrin James.
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, one of the greatest players in Indianapolis Colts history, will be in a different uniform next season.
There, I let the cat out of the bag, and nobody is going to be happy with it.
Unfortunately for all Colts fans, Wayne, the five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time NFL All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion, is going to be allowed to walk at the end of this season.
Consider the massive contract that is going to be awarded to quarterback Peyton Manning, which is going to make him the most highly-paid player in NFL history.
Now, add to that the fact we have numerous key free agents that need to be paid this season, which include the likes of linebacker Clint Session and safety Melvin Bullitt.
It all adds up to Wayne and All-Pro defensive end Robert Mathis needing to get paid, and my belief is the Colts organization will view Mathis as the younger and more valuable of the two options.
Wayne will yet again produce great numbers this season, and will more than likely be voted to his sixth Pro Bowl.
But the sad truth is it will be the last time he does these things with the Colts.
Let's be honest here, this is the true storybook ending.
In the entire history of the Super Bowl, no team has ever played the championship game on their home field.
On February 5, 2012, that will change.
The Colts are going to not only attend, but win, Super Bowl XLVI. I'm calling it now.
Numerous key players like Austin Collie and Dallas Clark returning from injuries will play a big part of it. But the biggest reason is that I truly believe Peyton Manning will be unrelenting in this quest.
Manning has always made it his priority to strive to not only be the best, but to prove all his doubters wrong.
He did it when they said he wasn't better than Ryan Leaf.
He did it when they said he couldn't beat the New England Patriots in the playoffs.
He did it when they said he couldn't win the Super Bowl.
And after this season, the man many consider the greatest quarterback of all-time will have once again taken Indianapolis to the promised land.
The best part about this is it will be witnessed right here in Indianapolis in front of all of us true Indianapolis Colts fans.