While the Colts compiled a 16-3 record in 2009, the team never really found its identity offensively. To have played so well and gotten so far this past season is a credit to Indianapolis' players and coaches. The Colts, for the most part, found ways to win games all year long.
Indianapolis has to find ways to run the football better and more consistently. Also, getting the football downfield more often through the passing game will be key. The Colts had success with a lot of underneath routes. But they have to be able to be more productive in stretching the field vertically.
Defensively, the Colts were improved in all areas this past season. But Indianapolis has to find a way to provide a more consistent pass rush if there are injuries to key defensive linemen, such as DE Dwight Freeney. When Freeney's not able to play at 100 percent, such as in Super Bowl XLIV, opposing offenses have too much time to throw the football.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL: The Colts had one of the youngest rosters in the league this past season, so outside observers shouldn't expect a lot of turnover during the offseason.
Indianapolis may ultimately decide to tweak a few areas, but team president Bill Polian, general manager Chris Polian and coach Jim Caldwell like the roster that they have assembled.
And there shouldn't be much change on the coaching staff, with the exception of the retirement of longtime offensive-line coach Howard Mudd. Assistant offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars is expected to be Mudd's replacement. Senior offensive coordinator Tom Moore should be back.
1. Left offensive tackle: Tony Ugoh hasn't panned out as expected. Charlie Johnson did a nice job of taking over the job this season, but he isn't a prototypical NFL left offensive tackle. The Colts need to find a long-term replacement for former Pro Bowl tackle Tarik Glenn, who retired after the 2006 season.
2. Middle linebacker: This area needs help even if starter Gary Brackett doesn't leave for free agency. Brackett is an unrestricted free agent who wants to remain with the Colts if the monetary issues can be worked out. Should Brackett come back in 2010, the team could use additional quality depth at middle linebacker.
3. Wide receiver: Yes, the Colts have Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie. And Anthony Gonzalez is expected back after missing the entire 2009 season with a knee injury. But you can never have too many weapons for QB Peyton Manning to use. He needs someone who can gain some separation downfield from a defensive back, a big-play Marvin Harrison type of receiver. Garcon is the only one of the Colts' receivers who can do that, but he was inconsistent at times and had some big drops in the postseason.
MEDICAL WATCH: S Bob Sanders (torn biceps) is reportedly making good progress from his surgery in the middle of the season. Team officials expect Sanders back at 100 percent in 2010.
— CB Marlin Jackson (knee) says that his rehab is right on schedule and he fully expects to be able to start working out with the team at some point during the offseason workouts.
— WR Anthony Gonzalez (knee) is feeling good and should be able to begin offseason workouts with the team. He had hoped to be back by midseason, but that didn't work out.
— DE Dwight Freeney (right ankle) is expected to be fine after he gets some rest and allows treatment on the ankle to take full effect. He should be able to take part in offseason work.
— PK Adam Vinatieri (right hip/right knee) was close to coming back at the end of the regular season and the postseason. He rated his recovery late in the year at about 85 to 90 percent. With a full offseason to get ready, Vinatieri should be back completely healthy for the 2010 season.
— LB Tyjuan Hagler (torn biceps) thinks that his rehab is right on schedule. He is a restricted free agent and hopes to be back next season. But health-wise, he is hopeful that he is over a run of injuries that have kept him out of the lineup since his rookie year.
— TE Tom Santi (back) should be OK heading into the offseason workouts. Was placed on the Colts' injured reserve list late in the regular season.
— TE Jamie Petrowski (ankle) was hurt in the Colts' final preseason game and was sidelined for the remainder of the 2009 season. He had LisFranc injury and multiple surgeries on the ankle. He's hopeful of being back in time for the start of training camp.