The Indianapolis Colts have missed the playoffs three straight years. What can the team do this offseason in order to get back on the winning track?
After six seasons, the Indianapolis Colts finally opted to part ways with head coach Chuck Pagano. During his first three years on the job, the team finished 11-5 each season and steadily advanced in the playoffs. From a wild-card berth in 2012 to an AFC South title and an appearance in the divisional round to another division crown and a date with the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
But starting in 2015 and with talented quarterback Andrew Luck’s health suddenly an issue, the Colts posted consecutive 8-8 showings. Minus their star signal-caller for all of ’17, the club plummeted to 4-12. Now recently-hired Frank Reich is the franchise’s new sideline leader. The former offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles takes over after Josh McDaniels opted to stay with the New England Patriots.
So can this club make a comeback under Reich? Here are five issues that must be addressed if the team is to get back on the winning track.
5. Add more pass rushers
Last offseason, then newly-hired general manager Chris Ballard made defense a priority. During free agency, he added a trio of performers known for getting to opposing quarterbacks. The Colts signed outside linebacker John Simon, Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo to aid this issue. But the trio combined for only 10.5 sacks as the Colts dropped enemy signal-callers just 25 times in 16 games, with more than half of that total (5.5) coming from Sheard. All told, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22) finished with fewer sacks in the league this past season.
Both Sheard and Simon (who missed the final 7 games of ’17) return but Mingo could be one-and-done with the club if Ballard opts not to re-sign him. More importantly, one can’t help but notice the Colts’ steady decline in this area. Since finishing with 42 sacks back in ’13, Indianapolis defenders have totaled 41, 35, 33 and 25 QB traps, respectively, the past four seasons.