The offensive line this upcoming season must be solid or Andrew Luck and the offense will fail to take off.
First, let's breakdown the positives and negatives the current offensive line of the Colts:
Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo -- The 2nd year left tackle looks to improve on his mediocre rookie campaign. Some say he was rushed into the left tackle spot and others say that the speed of the game got the best of him. It could be both, but either way, he will be better this season. He has to be. He has the most important spot on the line. If he could improve his footwork then he will succeed at the left tackle spot.
Left Guard Joe Reitz -- Joe Reitz had an overlooked pretty solid first year at guard. He wasn't great, but he did the job, and he seems like a good short term solution. His strength is there because he was a tackle, and the footwork is somewhat there. It seems like it's a good fit for now, but it seems like he could become a backup in the future. That doesn't matter now, as he's a good short term solution.
Center Samson Satele -- The new guy in town must impress. He has big shoes to fill in Jeff Saturday, but Satele has been extremely good in this league, especially with the Raiders the last couple of years. His run blocking led way to the Raiders to having a top 5 rushing attack in 2010 and 2011. He will need to play an important part on the line and must form a good bond with Andrew Luck.
Right Guard Ben Ijalana -- This is going to be interesting. Ben Ijalana is coming off ACL surgery and everyone knows that a knee is never the same after that kind of surgery. It's a risk-reward kind of thing. The reward is a stellar like season that he's capable of having. The risk is him being a liability on the line and letting defenders getting to Luck. Unfortunately, the risk outweighs the reward.
Right Tackle Winston Justice -- Winston Justice is also the new guy in town. He came over from the Eagles with his big contract. Justice is a former starter after replacing Todd Herramans due to injury in 2010. Justice has the strength to be a solid right tackle, but his footwork is terrible and speed rushers should beat him. Unless he steps it up, he will be a liability on the line, and will probably be replaced by either Ijalana (and make McGlynn the guard), or Jeff Linkenbach. He has to step it up this year.
The offensive line is the most important part of the offense. I know what you're saying "No you idiot, it's the quarterback," It's not. You won't have a great quarterback if he's getting sacked 60+ times a year. A good example are the 2002 Texans where David Carr, their rookie quarterback, was sacked 76 times (17% of the times he went back to pass). It's believed that Carr would have had a better season and a better career. The worst thing that could happen to the Colts is Andrew Luck losing his confidence and having a slow start to his career and him falling short of his potential. This line has to give him protection.
This has to be the case for the running game also. Donald Brown isn't the greatest running back, so don't expect him to make something out of nothing. The same can be said about Delone Carter and Vick Ballard. The O-line must open up holes for the running backs or they won't get any yards and will be forced to rely on Andrew Luck. He's a rookie quarterback. Handling that much pressure will get them to as they are not experienced enough to handle it. The running game must be solid this year so it can take pressure off Luck, and make his life and transition easier.
Everything leads back to Luck, and who protects Luck and the offense: The Line.
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