PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus
The Colts ended the regular season ranked second in the NFL in passing offense with an average of 282.2 yards per game. QB Peyton Manning earned his fourth MVP award after completing 393-of-571 passes for 4,500 yards, 33 touchdowns and had 16 passes intercepted. Manning was sacked a league-low 10 times this past season. He had a 99.9 passer rating. WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark each caught 100 passes. Rookie WR Austin Collie added 60 catches while RB Joseph Addai had 51 and second-year WR Pierre Garcon had 47 receptions.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus
Indianapolis struggled to get a consistent running game this year. The Colts were ranked 32nd in the league with an average of 80.9 yards on the ground per game. There have been flashes of success, however. RB Joseph Addai finished the regular season with 828 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rookie RB Donald Brown missed some playing time due to shoulder and chest injuries. He still rushed for 281 yards and three TDs. RBs Chad Simpson and Mike Hart gave the Colts some quality work.
PASS DEFENSE: B
The Colts finished in the middle of the NFL pack in pass defense, allowing an average of 212.7 yards per game. Indianapolis played most of the season without CB Marlin Jackson (out for the season with a knee injury), S Bob Sanders (out for the season with a biceps injury and had off-season shoulder surgery), and CB Kelvin Hayden (missed time earlier in the year with hamstring and knee injuries). In fact, the Colts started two rookie cornerbacks for most of the season (Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey). DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis battled minor injuries during the year as well. Still, the Colts had 34 total sacks (Freeney 13.5) and 16 interceptions (S Antoine Bethea 4).
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus
Indianapolis played better against the run this season than in previous years. Opposing teams, though, averaged 126.5 yards per game, allowing the Colts to be ranked 24th in the league in that category. The run defense has slipped a bit in the last couple of weeks, however. The Jets and Bills both had success at running the football against Indianapolis, although it must be remembered that Indianapolis used backup players in both of those games.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus
The Colts have showed strong improvement in kickoff return coverage and in punt return coverage, thanks in large measure to the addition of first-year special teams coach Ray Rychelski. Rookie P Pat McAfee has more than made up for the loss of longtime Indianapolis P Hunter Smith to free agency. McAfee has averaged 37.8 yard net and 44.3 yards overall on 64 punts. He has had 21 kicks downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He has also excelled as the Colts' kickoff specialist and as the holder for PKs Adam Vinatieri and Matt Stover. Vinatieri made 17-of-18 extra-point attempts and was seven-of-nine in field goal attempts before being sidelined by knee surgery. Stover has hit on 33-of-33 PAT attempts and nine-of-11 field goal attempts. KR Chad Simpson averaged 23.6 yards and scored one touchdown on 38 kickoff returns. PR T.J. Rushing averaged 5.7 yards on 21 punt returns.
Jim Caldwell has done a great job in handling the transition from Tony Dungy. Caldwell's decision-making process has proved successful — from bringing in new coordinators for defense (Larry Coyer) and special teams (Rychelski) to the way in which he has handled the team through a 14-game winning streak to begin the regular season. He has taken some lumps, however, for pulling his starters in the Colts' final two regular-season games against the Jets and Bills. In doing so, the Colts did not complete a possible undefeated regular season. But, overall, Caldwell has proven to be more than ready and up to the task of running the Colts franchise.
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