Losing on the road to the Jacksonville Jaguars to close what was once a promising 2021 season was rather painful overall for the Indianapolis Colts.
That pain and overall frustration led to an offseason full of changes, leading to the Colts making improvements at the most important position in all of sports, upgrading from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan at quarterback.
Adding a stable piece in Ryan late in a potential Hall of Fame career has many national pundits believing the Colts could make a serious playoff run in 2022 now that the offense is seemingly balanced.
One such pundit is NFL.com columnist Jim Trotter, who listed the Colts as one of three teams he believes can make a deep playoff run this season, largely due to the upgrade to Ryan and Yannick Ngakoue on the defensive line, and some key free agent signings like Stephon Gilmore and Brandon Facyson.
"Inconsistent quarterback play was a major reason the Colts missed the playoffs last season, but that should not be an issue this year with the arrival of Matt Ryan, the former league MVP who will be taking over for Carson Wentz," Trotter writes. "Defensively, the Colts addressed an area of concern by acquiring talented pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue from Las Vegas. He joins a unit that finished among the top 10 in scoring the past two seasons and has playmakers among the front seven."
There's no denying the Colts' roster is better now than at any point last season, from the quarterback position, to cornerback, all the way down into the trenches. This feels like a complete team overall, aside from maybe a hole at receiver that still remains, though Ryan's steady play can plug that hole in a sense.
Though they feel complete and Trotter is rather high on them, he still has some concerns with the group overall, which could lead to a short stint in the playoffs.
"The receiving corps is largely unproven and the secondary is thin. The Colts allowed Zach Pascal to depart for the Eagles and T.Y. Hilton remains a free agent, leaving them without a pair of veterans who made big catches over the years. The only proven threat is Michael Pittman Jr., though he could find it harder to make plays if there isn’t a reliable complement on the other side," Trotter writes. "In the defensive backfield, the Colts will have two new starters on the perimeter after trading Rock Ya-Sin for Ngakoue and opting not to re-sign Xavier Rhodes. Veterans Brandon Facyson and Isaiah Rodgers will be competing for the job opposite 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, but neither is a proven starter. Third-round draft pick Nick Cross is expected to contend for playing time at safety and could be a factor, but regardless of how it shakes out, the secondary is an area of concern."
There's no denying that the wide receiver depth chart behind Michael Pittman Jr. and rookie Alec Pierce is rather concerning overall. It's a good bet that the Colts and GM Chris Ballard aren't done this offseason at that position. That said, the secondary shouldn't be much of a concern.
Gilmore is a significant upgrade over the 2021 version of Xavier Rhodes, and Isaiah Rodgers is ready to ascend into a starting role opposite him. Facyson is a good veteran depth piece, especially in first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's system, and the safeties feel rather strong on paper with Khari Willis, Julian Blackmon, Cross, and Rodney McLeod.
The pieces are in place for a deep run. Now it's up to the execution of the players and coaches on the field.
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