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Why Colts’ Offensive Line Must Improve

The Indianapolis Colts' offensive line was once the biggest reason for the team's success but instead has been the biggest part of the offense's failure this season.
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For NFL offenses, it all starts up front. Running the ball and protecting the passer requires an efficient offensive line with an attitude to block.

Since 2018, the Indianapolis Colts have had it. However, 2022 has proven to be a volatile whirlwind full of position-swapping. Now that we’ve covered the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, let’s start breaking down the offensive line for the Colts, which was considered by many to be elite until now.

Currently, Pro Football Focus has the Colts' offensive line at 29th overall in pass-blocking efficiency and 27th at run-block efficiency. Right out of the gate, this is startling to anyone who saw their top-10 caliber ranks in the preseason.

As of now in Week 12, the Colts are tied with the Chicago Bears as the NFL's worst in sacks allowed at 40, per On paper, the context as to why quarterback Matt Ryan has to get rid of the ball so quickly becomes visible. Pair this with no blocking for star running back Jonathan Taylor, and you have a recipe for disaster, leading to the second-worst scoring offense in the league at a lowly 15.7 points per game.

Lastly, there is a $42 million tag on this offensive line, which is the fourth-highest in the entire NFL and a whopping 20% of the Colts' cap space.

Let’s examine the line from left to right with rookie Bernhard Raimann.

Aug 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann blocks Buffalo Bills defensive end Kingsley Jonathan (59) during the first half at Highmark Stadium.
Oct 23, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive end Denico Autry (96) talks with Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (56) after a play during the second half at Nissan Stadium.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) lines up behind Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly (78) on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Aug 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts guard Will Fries (75) prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Braden Smith Indianapolis Colts OL

The offensive line was the biggest deal for the Colts and has been since 2018. Have they finally hit a regression? Is it an issue with the constant swaps and lack of consistency? Is it a combination of both? Who knows?

What is known without any ambiguity is that the Colts' protection hasn’t just been lackluster, it’s led to one of the most predictable offenses in the entire league.

Every team knows the line is struggling, that Taylor is the biggest threat, and that Ryan cannot move out of a pocket quickly enough. Will the Colts be able to turn around and keep the Pittsburgh Steelers from putting on pressure? We will see on Monday. 

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