The Indianapolis Colts have been in off season mode for weeks now, after missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. There were a lot of questions and distractions regarding the fate of head coach Chuck Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson over the past couple of weeks. Now, the Colts face one of their biggest off season’s in quite some time.
Here are five moves the Colts can make this off season, that could help them find their way back to the AFC Championship.
1. Find a pass rusher.
I feel that the 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with edge rushers and Defensive Ends, and one of them will most likely find their way to the Colts. This has been a need for the Colts over the past several years, and is a bigger need in 2017 with the retirement of Robert Mathis. The Colts will also see Erik Walden and Trent Cole become free agents, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the Colts let Cole walk. In my first 2017 NFL Mock Draft, I load up with pass rushers in the first round. Don’t be surprised if the Colts take one of these guys in the first or second round.
Targets to address this need: LB Chandler Jones, LB Erik Walden,
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
2. Protect Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis needs to take a deep look at the formula the Dallas Cowboys put together over the past few years, emphasizing the need to protect their franchise Quarterback. The development of the line moved in a positive direction recently, with the draft selection of Ryan Kelly. They also have Jack Mewhort and Anthony Costonzo as solid assets, but other areas need improvement. Luck is starting to create a history of injury issues, and an improved offensive line could lead the Colts back to the playoffs.
Targets to address this need: RT Andre Smith, G Luke Joeckel, LT Matt Kalil
3. Acquire an explosive running back.
The Colts need to take a long look for a reliable replacement for Frank Gore. An explosive back out of the backfield can also help protect Andrew Luck, as he may look for the check down even more. In my first 2017 NFL Mock Draft, I predicted that the Colts will select RB Dalvin Cook with their first round selection. He is an exact mold of what will work for the Colts, and is the explosive back that would be the perfect complement for Frank Gore.
Targets to address this need: RB Dalvin Cook (Draft), RB Danny Woodhead, RB Latavius Murray, RB Eddie Lacy (not explosive, but a young free agent RB)
4. Don’t ignore the secondary.
A big question for the Colts this off season is what they will do at this position. Both Darius Butler and Mike Adams are set to be free agents. Both of them play a big role within the Colts defense. The only role that I see as set for 2017 is Vontae Davis, with the other cornerback and safety roles up in the air. With other needs in the defense, I would assume the Colts bring back Butler or Adams, if not both. T.J. Green is not the answer for the Colts secondary, so be on the lookout for major moves to improve this unit.
Targets to address this need: CB Darius Butler, S Mike Adams, CB Morris Claiborne, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Stephon Gilmore, S Eric Berry
5. Target a top end Defensive Coordinator.
Chuck Pagano came to Indianapolis to build a “monster,” but the monster problem has been the Colts defense. I am a firm believer in the fact that Pagano simply isn’t a good coach. Take a look at his Baltimore defense. Did Chuck Pagano build that defense, or did those players build Chuck Pagano? With players such as Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, I would believe that those players built Pagano. The same can be seen with Gus Bradley. Did Gus build the Seahawks defense, or did those players build him? I think we saw the answer to that too. Pagano needs to quickly find a top tier Defensive Coordinator to help build this side of the ball up. The Colts defense is routinely at the bottom of the league, so we know Pagano is not the answer.
Targets to address this need: Rex Ryan, Steve Wilks (Panthers DB coach), Mike Pettine
Have another move that will boost the Colts back into the playoffs? Send them to @ReefsTakeCory on Twitter.