5 Reasons Indianapolis Colts' 2013 Season Will Rival Successful 2012 Campaign
The Indianapolis Colts will have just as good a season, if not better, in 2013 as they did in 2012.
Last year's team really came together after head coach Chuck Pagano was forced to take a leave of absence to fight leukemia. Bruce Arians stepped in and helped lead the Colts to a playoff appearance.
The critics are doubting the Colts, saying there is no way they will win 11 games again. However, the team and the city of Indianapolis truly believe they can make a run at the Super Bowl.
If you look closely at this squad's offseason, you realize how scary it will be next season.
1. Cap Space
Ryan Grigson did an excellent job in his first year as the Colts' general manager, making shrewd personnel decisions.
This time, Grigson has a lot more money to spend.
According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts have more than $45 million in cap room.
That's one of the highest totals in the NFL.
This will give the Colts plenty of opportunities to higher-priced free agents, giving them a chance to fill big holes that were present in 2012.
There are a lot of big names in free agency right now, which means that a lot of players won't find the money they were seeking. This will force some big names to look for less, making that cap room even more valuable.
All of this can only help the Colts in 2013. Watch for some big names to find their way to Indianapolis.
2. Return of Impressive Rookies
The Colts' offense featured several impressive rookies in 2012.
Andrew Luck is obviously the big name in this group. He was the first rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall to have a winning season. He also broke the record for passing yards in a rookie season, throwing for 4,374.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton came out of nowhere to be one of the Colts' more exciting players. He had 861 receiving yards and scored eight total touchdowns. One of those came on a 75-yard punt return against the Buffalo Bills.
Running back Vick Ballard showed real promise, running for 814 yards. It's hard to gauge his potential, considering that he split carries with Donald Brown. The offensive line also had problems, causing the running game to struggle.
Both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen showed potential at tight end as well. They combined for 802 receiving yards and five touchdowns, as the Colts did a good job of getting both tight ends involved in the offense.
All of these rookies played pretty well. With a full offseason to prepare, it's exciting to think how impressive they will be in 2013.
3. Pep Hamilton Is Now Offensive Coordinator
After Bruce Arians decided to depart Indy to become the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, the Colts made a brilliant decision by bringing in former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to fill the position.
This should improve Luck's completion percentage, as well as give players like T.Y. Hilton a chance to use their speed in the open field. Since they won't entirely play a West Coast style, it will give Luck a chance to also use his arm to sling it downfield.
This move will be good for the Colts. Expect big things from the offense next season.
4. Easy Schedule
While the official schedule has not yet been released, the Colts' opponents are already known. The list of opponents can be found at pslsource.com.
The Colts will be playing the teams from the NFC West and AFC West. In the NFC West, games against the Cardinals and Rams figure to be likely wins for this Colts team. The Rams will likely be without their best player in 2013. According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Steven Jackson will void the final year of his contract.
The Cardinals will also be a weaker team, as they have yet to find a stable quarterback. Even if they do draft one in April, it is unlikely that he will be able to turn the team around.
5. Andrew Luck
The departure of Peyton Manning was tough, but the Colts found their new quarterback in Andrew Luck.
We discussed earlier that Luck was one of those impressive rookies returning to the team. However, this doesn't begin to cover how important Luck was to this team.
Luck took a team that went 2-14 the year before and led it to an 11-5 record. Not only that, he did it while being hit or hurried all season.
There were few QBs under pressure as often as Luck was last season. The offensive line struggled to contain pass-rushers, causing Luck to constantly scramble to elude sacks. Still, he was sacked 41 times, the fourth most in the NFL. That number would have been much higher if Luck hadn't been so elusive.
There is also no doubt that Luck had one of the most clutch seasons of all time. He had seven game-winning drives, tied for the second-most ever by a quarterback.
The numbers weren't the prettiest, but Luck had a terrific year. With an offseason to improve the offensive line and study the offense, Luck is going to be one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in 2013 and figures to lead the Colts to victory on a consistent basis.