Indianapolis, IN – It’s a day later and everyone is still raving about the Indianapolis Colts‘ improbable 28 point second half comeback to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 yesterday in Lucas Oil Stadium. Despite that thrilling victory, I still believe the best has yet to come from this Colts team.
Yes, they are still in the playoffs and have a realistic shot at a Super Bowl, but what’s in store for them in the future is bright.
All year long, head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson said to just give them time to gel and by the end of the year, they would be playing their best football. Well, after wins over the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, the Colts stood at 5-2 entering their bye week.
Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of the momentum ended, as they looked like an entirely different team after the week off. They struggled to beat the Houston Texans, then dropped two bad games to the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals. Most thought this team was dead in the water and peaked too early.
Even after all of that, the front office, coaching staff and players said just be patient, you haven’t seen the best football out of us yet. Let us get healthy and gel. After a near perfect December and that playoff victory yesterday, maybe they were right.
Indianapolis has won four straight games and five of the last six contests. With the momentum of that comeback, they’re one of the hottest teams playing right now. When you look at the stats, you will see why. Despite giving up 44 points yesterday, the Colts’ defense is playing better than ever. In the last four games, they’ve forced nine turnovers, sacked the opposition 14 times and have four interceptions. Mix that with an offense that’s not turning the ball over, as they only have four giveaways in that same time span, protecting Andrew Luck better as he’s only been sacked four times in five games and finally developed a ground game with 100+ yards rushing in three of the four contests, and you have a very scary team on both sides of the football.
Also, Indianapolis has had receivers finally step up in LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rogers, which has allowed T.Y. Hilton to get single coverage again. Since that trio has stepped up, Hilton has had 516 yards and two touchdowns on 39 receptions in only five weeks. That trio has combined to grab 539 yards and six touchdowns on 40 catches, so it’s safe to say Indy has an aerial threat as well.
What makes this team scary going forward past this year is that they’re not going anywhere, as many guys are coming back and also look at the additions for next season that have missed tons of time due to injuries.
It’s safe to say that Indianapolis won’t have to draft or sign any skill set players on offense, as the return of Reggie Wayne, Vick Ballard and Dwayne Allen give no room for roster spots. Imagine next year’s receiving group of Wayne, Hilton, Whalen, Rogers and Brazill. With how much everyone has stepped up in the abscence of Wayne, what will they do when a 1,006 catch, 13,566 yard and 80 touchdown veteran receiver returns? Mix in Allen, who had 45 catches, 521 yards and three touchdowns last year to go along with one catch and a TD in the opening game this year on a play he was injured for the season on, and you add him and Coby Fleener as a dynamite receiving group.
Also, Ballard and Trent Richardson returning and a possibility of bringing back Donald Brown gives Indianapolis one of the best skill sets in the league, and I haven’t even mentioned Luck yet.
The second-year quarterback has already won 22 games in his first 34 starts and put Indianapolis as a favorite. With him improving this much, imagine where he’s going to be at in his 134th start. He’s dominated the division as he’s 10-2 against the AFC South so far.
Then the line is finally gelling, giving the Colts a running game and protecting Luck, so maybe they won’t need to fix that much after all. Guard Donald Thomas returns next year as the line suddenly went from dismal to good with depth. That’s why Indianapolis is set for a dynasty. All of these players are still young and can only grow. They’re drafting and signing guys now for backup spots. It’s good to be a Colt fan now.
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports. He’s covered the team the past four seasons and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Colts. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru