2010 NFL Season Preview: Indianapolis Colts

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIJuly 27, 2010

2010 NFL Season Preview: Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass  while playing against the New York Jets during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defea
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts have been one of the most successful NFL franchises in recent memory. They are currently riding an astounding seven-season streak of 12 wins or more. 

    They won the Super Bowl in 2006, and last year they drove all the way back yet lost 31-17 to the New Orleans Saints.

    With most of their starters returning, they could very likely have another shot at it.

Biggest Question Heading Into Next Season

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 20: Running back Chad Simpson #35 of the Indianapolis Colts lays on the field injured against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, as it often does, the Colts are due for a Super Bowl hangover, as only three of the past 10 Super Bowl losers have gone to the playoffs the following year.

    Whether or not the Colts are strong enough to overcome that will determine their ultimate success. 

Key Additions

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    Baltimore Ravens tackle Adam Terry  sets to block   during a pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints August 26, 2005 in New Orleans.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    T Adam Terry

    Terry is a decent offensive tackle who's had starting experience before. He should add quality depth.

    G Andy Alleman

    Alleman, too, is nothing more than a serviceable backup. 

    The Colts were pretty passive in free agency, signaling that they were confident in their group moving forward. 

Key Losses

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 09: Marlin Jackson #28 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts on the field during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on August, 9, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    QB Jim Sorgi

    Sorgi's loss will leave the incompetent (to say the least) Curtis Painter as Manning's backup quarterback.

    G Ryan Lilja

    Lilja, the team's starting guard last year, was let go because of injury concerns. 

    DE Raheem Brock

    The Colts decided to part ways after Brock's eight seasons with the team.

    CB Marlin Jackson

    Despite being a talented corner, he's been plagued with injuries, which resulted in his release.

Draft Recap

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    SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 07:  Defensive end Jerry Hughes #98 of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs on the sidelines in the game with the San Diego State Aztecs on November 7, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.   TCU won 55-12.  (Photo
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    First Round (No. 31 Overall):            TCU DE Jerry Hughes

    Second Round (No. 63 Overall):        Iowa LB Pat Angerer

    Third Round (No. 94 Overall):            USC CB Kevin Thomas

    Fourth Round (No. 129 Overall):  Tennessee G Jacques McClendon

    Fifth Round (No. 162 Overall):     Oklahoma TE Brody Eldridge

    Seventh Round (No. 238 Overall):Cincinnati DT Ricardo Matthews

    Seventh Round (No. 240 Overall):  Clemson LB Kavell Conner

    Seventh Round (No. 246 Overall):   Indiana KR Ray Fisher

    The Colts did an excellent job, once again, as they were able to fill their needs and got great value for their selections. Jerry Hughes, their first round pick, has potential to become an elite pass rusher. 

Coaching Outlook

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the sidelines against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Mira
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Jim Caldwell will be heading into his second season as the Colts' head coach. He inherited a very talented group and picked off where Tony Dungy left off, as he became the first rookie head coach in the Super Bowl. 

    Larry Coyer will return for his second season as the team's defensive coordinator. One of his biggest responsibilities will be improving their 24th-ranked rush defense. 

    Clyde Christensen will be entering his first season as the team's offensive coordinator. His only other experience in the league was as the Buccaneers offensive coordinator in 2001. While he didn't so well that time (ranked 26th in total yards), he should do much better this time around. 

    Note, that Tom Moore, the senior offensive assistant, will be the play-caller.

Offense Outlook

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    INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 13:   Reggie Wayne #85 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 13, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Colts have one of the most potent offenses in the league, primarily because of Peyton Manning. 

    Manning, in my mind, is the best player in the NFL, and he continues to lead the way to dominance. 

    In his arsenal he has two of the league's best playmakers in Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Moreover, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon established themselves as reliable targets. Consider the fact that Anthony Gonzalez is coming back from injury, and their passing attack is deadly. 

    Even though I firmly believe that balance is an integral key to success, the Colts appear to be the exception. Despite ranking dead last in rushing yards, they were seventh in points scored. 

    The Colts do have a strong offensive line in terms of pass blocking, as the group only allowed a league-best 13 sacks. On the other hand, they are below average in run blocking.

    Once again, I expect this offense to rank amongst the league's best. 

Defense Outlook

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 16:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts gets set against the Houston Texans during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 17, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    While the Colts offense may not be great, they do a fantastic job at generating an effective pass rush. 

    Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis possess the ability to wreak havoc in the opponent's backfield, as last year they racked up 13.5 and 9.5 sacks, respectively. 

    At defensive tackle they are rather weak, as the Colts prefer undersized players. They rely on a consistent rotation at the position.

    They have a solid linebacking core, led by Gary Brackett. Alongside him are Clint Session and Phillip Wheeler, all three of whom are small, fast, and reliable in coverage.

    Their secondary is very underrated, in my mind. Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers, and Jacob Lacey form a great trio at corner. Meanwhile, Antoine Bethea and Bob Sanders make up one of the best safety tandems in the league. 

    Do be aware though that Sanders, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is very injury-prone. In fact, he's missed 37 games overe the past four seasons. If and when he's out, Melvin Bullitt will step in. 

Special Teams Outlook

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    GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Kicker Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts attempts a field goal during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Colts defeated
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If the Colts have a weakness, it's their special teams unit. 

    Chad Simpson returned a kickoff for a score last year, but is now gone, leaving the duties to rookie Ray Fisher. In terms of coverage, the team allowed one score last year as well. 

    Adam Vinatieri, their kicker, nailed 78 percent of his field goals. He is getting older, and his leg strength is diminishing. 

    Their punter, Pat McAfee, did a decent job last season by pinning nearly 33 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line. 

Fantasy Outlook

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 8:  Dallas Clark #44 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Colts defeated the Texans 20-17.  (Photo by An
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    QB Peyton Manning

    Manning is a sure-fire first round pick, and should be the second quarterback drafted behind Drew Brees.

    WR Reggie Wayne

    Wayne is one of the most consistent receivers in the league and should be good for at least 80 receptions and 1,200 yards.

    RB Joseph Addai

    Because of his high touchdown production (10 last year), Addai is still a viable fantasy option.

    TE Dallas Clark

    Clark is one of the top tight ends in the game, and I project him to have at least 80 receptions for 1,000 yards. 

    WR Pierre Garcon

    Garcon is a dangerous deep threat and could push for 1,000 yards.

Schedule

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 15:  Gary Brackett #58 of the Indianapolis Colts recovers a fumble against the New England Patriots during the third game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Week 1             @ Houston Texans

    Week 2              vs. New York Giants

    Week 3             @ Denver Broncos

    Week 4             @ Jacksonville Jaguars

    Week 5              vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Week 6              @ Washington Redskins

    Week 7              Bye

    Week 8              vs. Houston Texans

    Week 9              @ Philadelphia

    Week 10             vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    Week 11             @ New England Patriots

    Week 12             vs.  San Diego Chargers

    Week 13             vs. Dallas Cowboys

    Week 14             @ Tennessee Titans

    Week 15              vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Week 16              @ Oakland Raiders

    Week 17              vs. Tennessee Titans

    While the Colts do have some tough games ahead of them, they have the ability to beat every team on their schedule. 

    There are several games that you will want to mark on your calendar, such as the Manning sibling rivalry in Week Two and the Manning vs. Brady showdown in Week 11. 

In a Nutshell

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts leads the huddle against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 25, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Simply said, as long as Peyton Manning is with this team, I expect the Colts to win the division. No Super Bowl hangover is going to stop him.

    With teams like the Ravens and Jets improving, it will be interesting to see if they can get another chance at a title though.

    Final Record: 12-4 (1st in AFC South)

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