One of the popular knocks on the Indianapolis Colts in recent years is they play in the weak AFC South Division.
The Colts have dominated the division with nine titles in 13 years including the past two seasons, but that doesn’t mean choosing an All-AFC South squad translates to making it all Indy.
Earlier this week, NFL analyst Dave Damesheck chose an All-AFC South squad for NFL.com.
How many Colts are on it? OK, no surprise. The Horseshoe is well-represented with 11 players out of 25 spots. The Colts had four players on offense, four on defense and three specialists.
The offensive guys are probably obvious: Quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receivers Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton and left offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo. Running back Frank Gore lost out to the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster.
Damesheck wrote of Luck: “He’s 3-for-3 in getting the Colts to January, and with each passing year, he's gotten ‘em one weekend closer to February. Since Indy reached the AFC title game last season, that means ... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.”
OK, so he’s not buying the Super Bowl hype.
The explanation on Hilton, who just made his first Pro Bowl: “The Colts’ offense has a chance to be one of those all-time great units, with Gore, Andre Johnson, a pair of higher-end pass-catching tight ends in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener ... and this splash-playmaker-who-makes-more-than-just-splash-plays gem.”
Johnson, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection with the Texans, is consdered, “Perhaps this generation’s least-heralded future Hall of Famer,” and “If the former longtime Texan can stay healthy, a massive year awaits.”
Castonzo, a 2011 first-round pick who is one of the league’s most underrated players, finally gets some love, although not at his usual position: “Perhaps the only dependable piece on the Colts’ line, the starting left tackle gets moved to the right side on our team.”
The other offensive players are Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas, Texans tackle Duane Brown, Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack, Jacksonville center Stefen Wisniewski and Jacksonville guard Brandon Linder.
On defensive Colts were defensive end Robert Mathis (although the franchise sack leader plays outside linebacker in his team’s 3-4 scheme), inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, cornerback Vontae Davis and safety Mike Adams.
The skinny on Mathis: “As long as we’re doing the if thing, if Mathis can get beyond the Achilles injury that — combined with a four-game suspension — kept him from participating in 2014 and reach his career average of double-digit sacks, the Colts’ defense has a chance.”
Jackson makes the list after leading the Colts in tackles: “From Cleveland to Indy, the tackling machine has stayed consistent. He posted 141 tackles for the Browns in ’13 and 138 for the Colts in ’14.”
Davis is the highest-paid player on the Colts roster ($11.25 million against salary cap this season), but earns it: “Trump your pals and impress the experts by invoking the name ‘Vontae’ the next time a debate over the mythical Best Shutdown Corner rages around your local tavern.”
Adams just made his first Pro Bowl in his 11th NFL season continues to get “dissed” a bit: “ The undrafted journeyman (Indy is the fourth stop in his 11-year career) landed in the Pro Bowl last season.”
The other defensive players are Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (“the best defensive player of (at least) this decade”), Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, Titans outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph and Titans safety Da’Norris Searcy.
Dorsett, a wide receiver expected to play the slot this year, gets his spot by default: “Sight unseen, the first-round pick — who is expected to fill this role this season — is better than any of the veteran options available. But let’s also appreciate the man who held the post in Indy for a time last season, Griff Whalen. There just aren’t a lot of guys named Griff.”
Dameshek said of Vinatieri, “The future Hall of Famer led the league in efficiency last season, making 30 of his 31 attempts.” And wrote of the fun-loving McAfee, “We’d put him on the team if only for his mirth-making in the locker room. The fact he happens to also be the best punter in the division is a bonus.”
Let the snub talk begin, although with about half of the spots taken by Colts, fans probably can’t argue too much.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.