Initially, it would seem that the Indianapolis Colts are an overrated AFC contender that is solely predicated on how well their passing game performs. As of recently, the Colts defense has looked fragile and meek, particularly against teams that have either a weak offense to begin with (Tennessee Titans) or a rookie quarterback who is just finding his wings (Houston Texans). However, despite their struggles as of late, the Colts devotion to their quarterback Andrew Luck is what allows this team to fight past their shortcomings to find a way to win.
While Andrew Luck hasn’t necessarily been the breakout sophomore quarterback that he was expected to be, his accuracy and number of interceptions thrown are markedly improved over last season. Last year, Luck completed just over 54% of his passes, which was one of the lowest passing percentages among starting quarterbacks. This year, Luck’s accuracy has jumped to new heights as he has completed 59.4% of his passes and has only thrown six interceptions on the season. Although these numbers may not be exceptional, it has allowed the Colts to keep their offense on the field for a longer duration that in turn gives them more opportunities to drive the ball down the field to garner well-deserved points.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Colts unimpressive defensive front that has 126.1 rushing yards per game this season (26th in the NFL). While their mediocre defense hasn’t prevented this team from having a decisive lead in their division, it has cost them games that they most likely should have won. This was evident in the Colts embarrassing loss against the St. Louis Rams where their defense was picked apart by back up quarterback Kellen Clemens who has been adequate at best this season. Although the Colts bounced back against the Tennessee Titans, their defense was still exposed as being something of an unexplainable conundrum that struggled to stop the run and pass throughout their close victory over the Titans. While the Colts defense will catch somewhat of a break they face the Arizona Cardinals next week, they’ll still have to make some critical adjustments if they hope to stay competitive come the post season.
Of course, the Colts struggles can at least partially due to not having star-studded wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Despite his long tenure in the NFL, Wayne has proven to be a reliable and talented security blanket for Luck especially in sticky situations. Between his impressive catching abilities and his raw strength, Wayne is an unprecedented offensive weapon that can make big plays at a moments notice. Without him, the Colts offenses has taken a noticeable step backwards and have become more reliant on their running game as a result.
Although the Colts running game has had it’s struggles especially when Trent Richardson is on the field, they appear to have found a reliable running back who can strong-arm his way up the middle and can even break a couple of tackles in the process. While Donald Brown isn’t necessarily the quickest back in the league, his explosive power and physical toughness make him an ideal rusher for a Colts team that simply needs to garner a few big rushing plays here and there to open up the option for the play action pass. More importantly, Brown’s stout running abilities could come in handy in the red zone where it becomes much more difficult to get off a quick pass to and open receiver. As long as the Colts can utilize Brown effectively as they did against the Titans, they’ll have a dynamic offense that can keep opposing defenses guessing rather than playing right into their hand.
In the end, the Colts will undoubtedly be questioned because of their shoddy defense and their developing rushing attack. Although the Colts may not look like SuperBowl Contenders right now, they have the talent and perseverance to be one of the top teams from the AFC going into the playoffs. As long as the Colts can win their division and secure home field advantage, they have as good a chance as anybody to make an inspirational run in the post season.