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Indianapolis Colts 2021 Season Preview

The highly anticipated Carson Wentz era begins in Indianapolis, but the Colts defense enters the season as the team's top unit.

New faces dot the Indianapolis Colts' 2021 roster at some of the most important positions, led by new franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and rookie pass rusher Kwity Paye, but aside from some new faces in key places, the 2021 Colts remain largely the same, this time looking to take another step forward in the AFC.

After trading for Wentz in March, the Colts believe he's the missing piece to a potential championship run in the Crossroads of America, officially closing the chapter on the brief – yet entertaining — Philip Rivers era, embarking on the new — and hopefully long and lucrative — Wentz era.

Standouts in second-year running back Johnathan Taylor, guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard and cornerback Kenny Moore II return, giving the Colts legitimate stars to continue building around in a push for a hopeful third Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.


Wentz is the key cog in this engine under Frank Reich in Indianapolis. 

One year after being relatively handicapped under Rivers, Wentz provides the Colts with a mobile, athletic quarterback with a strong arm, opening up more of the passing attack for the Colts and wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal. 

If Wentz rebounds from a rough last two years in Philadelphia and looks like the 2017 and 2018 version of himself, the Colts find themselves in possession of a legitimate top 10 quarterback. 

Should Wentz struggle and be mediocre, the Colts can rely on a physical, smash mouth rushing attack with a four-headed monster in the backfield in Johnathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins while leaning on arguably the best offensive line in football led by guard Quenton Nelson and right tackle Braden Smith. 

This group might not be flashy, but they'll be hard to stop on a consistent basis week-to-week, let alone drive-to-drive. 


Historically, the offense has been the calling card for the Colts. 

Not this year.

That's no slight on the offense the Colts have accumulated; rather, it's a compliment to the top-5-caliber defense general manager Chris Ballard has built in the last few seasons for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. 

All-Pros Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner lead the way in the quickly-rebuilt front seven of the Colts. First-round draft pick Kwity Paye adds some serious juice off the edge as a pass rusher, while ends Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu are being counted on to take the next step forward in their development as pass rushers. 

The secondary appears to be rather strong again in 2021, led by slot corner Kenny Moore II and a terrific safety tandem in Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis. If the Colts can get another good year out of veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes, this could be a top 5 unit when it's all said and done this season. 


Though the Colts added some key pieces at important positions, depth remains a concern in some areas, especially along the offensive line, under center, and at linebacker. 

If Wentz rebounds quickly and the defense develops into an elite unit quickly, this could turn out to be a 12-5 team. However, COVID-19 protocols could cause chaos inside one of the lowest vaccinated teams in the NFL, testing depth in key places. 

Expected Depth Chart

QB: Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason

RB: Johnathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins

WR: Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, Mike Strachan (R), Ashton Dulin (T.Y. Hilton on IR)

TE: Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Kylen Granson (R)

LT: Julie'n Davenport, Matt Pryor

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LG: Quenton Nelson, Chris Reed

C: Ryan Kelly, Danny Pinter

RG: Mark Glowinski, Will Fries

RT: Braden Smith, Matt Pryor

DE: Kwity Paye (R), Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu

DT: DeForest Buckner, Antwaun Woods, Chris Williams

DT: Grover Stewart, Taylor Stallworth, Chris Williams

DE: Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Isaac Rochell 

LB: Darius Leonard, EJ Speed

LB: Zaire Franklin, Matthew Adams, Jordan Glasgow

LB: Bobby Okereke, EJ Speed

CB: Xavier Rhodes, BoPete Keyes, Chris Wilcox

CB: Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers, Chris Wilcox

CB: Kenny Moore II, TJ Carrie

S: Julian Blackmon

S: Khari Willis, George Odum 

K: Rodrigo Blankenship

P: Rigoberto Sanchez

LS: Luke Rhodes