Can we say altogether now….”FRANCHISE IN SHAMBLES.” It pains me to think of the state of the current Indianapolis Colts in comparison to the Colts who won the Super Bowl just a short few years ago. Most experts could see the writing on the wall with the offense ENTIRELY relying on Peyton Manning. Sure he was an ironman but did the Colts’ Brass consider the possibilities if Peyton were to sustain an injury??? It was either ignorance or arrogance that has led to the demise of this once proud juggernaut of an offense. The Indianapolis Offensive Line looked great for years with Peyton reading defenses and releasing quicker than perhaps anyone in NFL history. Now they are reduced to a frail line that has to hold up and protect the new face of the franchise in Andrew Luck. Members of this Offensive Line are LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Joe Reitz, C Samson Satele, RG Mike McGlynn and RT Winston Justice.
Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo was a 1st round selection of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2011 NFL Draft. Tall and rangy he has the tools to handle the outside pass rushers that intend on dropping his Quarterback, but did not display them on a consistent basis in 2011. He needs more experience and will get it protecting the “blind side” of Andrew Luck.
Left Guard Joe Reitz was signed as an undrafted Free Agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He was signed to the Practice Squad in 2008 and also in 2009. In 2010 he was picked up by the Miami Dolphins and cut three days later. A feel good story he went from being cut to the Practice Squad to being the pencilled in starter in 2012. He must stay healthy or he may fall out of the starting rotation.
Center Samson Satele was a 2nd round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007. He was traded to Oakland in 2009. He remained on the Raiders roster until this offseason when he was picked up by the Colts to replace the longtime Center Jeff Saturday. Satele is high energy and a decent size guy, but can be beaten by proficient Pass Rushers.
Right Guard Mike McGlynn was taken by the Eagles in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has had stints with the Eagles and Bengals before becoming a Colt. Heavy footed and stiff, he is susceptible to being bull rushed by opposing defenses. He has intrinsic value however, as he can be plugged into the Guard or Center spots.
Right Tackle Winston Justice was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2nd round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He was victimized badly in his first NFL start allowing 4 sacks. He was traded to the Colts in March of this year. He had various character concerns in College but has become a true Humanitarian in the NFL as he is part of many charitable organizations. He must stay healthy in order to continue to be a full time starter for the Colts.
Now to Analyze the Numbers…..
Indianapolis ranked 25th in Total Run Blocking in 2011 allowing their RB’s to only rush for 4.12 yards per carry. They were stopped at/or behind the line of scrimmage 20% of the time which was behind the NFL average of 19%. They achieved first downs on 3rd/4th down runs only 50% of their attempts which was 3rd last in the league. Indy ran 353 times in 2011 and I would not expect that number to rise much even with the development of a new QB. The RB’s experienced their least success running behind Anthony Castonzo as they only rambled for 2.97 yards per carry which was 3rd last in the NFL. They experienced more success running behind last year’s Right Tackle Jeff Linkenbach as they picked up 4.71 yards per carry which was ranked 7th in the NFL. From a Fantasy perspective I would be hard pressed to draft any of the RB’s. Donald Brown is a speed demon but doesn’t catch the ball well, Delone Carter doesn’t catch well or hold onto the ball well. Will Rookie Vick Ballard step in?? Time will tell.
The Colts ranked 18th in the NFL in Pass Protection in 2011 allowing Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins to be sacked 6.9% of their dropbacks. The NFL average was 6.7% so this wasn’t overly horrible. Manning made the O-Line look good, but now that he isn’t there the Line must finally step up or it will be a rough year for Luck. Reggie Wayne is in decline but would still be worth a Flex spot on most lineups. If Austin Collie sustains another concussion, his career may be cut short. Watch for a lot of two TE sets in 2012, so that would indicate that Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener may be worth picking up in spot duty bye week coverage for your Fantasy teams. Andrew Luck may be the best “Pro-ready” QB since Peyton but he doesn’t have a star O-Line protecting him. He will have up and down games but he will be better than any option they had in 2011.