The "Power Core" Pre-Season Power Rankings #12
Just two years removed from a heartbreaking home loss in the playoffs to Tennessee, Indianapolis has seen a steady decline in their beloved, albeit stolen, Colts. Why? Well, this team overachieved in much the same way Chicago did last year. Then, injuries and major defensive deficiencies began to overtake this offense-laden franchise. But with new head coach Tony Dungy overseeing the project, this Colts team should be considered a contender for the AFC crown.
#12 Indianapolis Colts (6 - 10) fourth in the AFC East
The Colts' horrible season last year should not have been surprising. This team, for the past two years, performed a balancing act that finally caught up with them. When injuries took the offensive weapons away from Peyton Manning, the points no longer came. Thus, the defense was forced into a position it hadn't been accustomed too - Keeping the Colts in the Game. Rather than being expected to hold teams to under 25 or so points, this defense needed to hold teams under 20 points, which was impossible (as expected). Then, a marriage made in heaven dropped from the sky. Jim Mora cried like a baby one too many times and got himself fired, while Tony Dungy's lack of offense in Tampa cost him his job. It was love at first sight for the franchise and the coach. Now, can that love get Indy to the Super Bowl? Maybe.
The Good: Peyton Manning is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He had a bad season last year, but much of that can be attributed to the fact that his team and coach were falling apart around him. His main weapon, Marvin Harrison, is perhaps the best possession receiver in the game but also has the ability to break it open anytime he wants with a great first step and precise route-running. Qadry Ismail was signed from Baltimore, and he should be more comfortable as the #2 receiver. Edgerrin James should repeat his form of two years ago, barring another injury. Dungy drafted 6 defensive players in a row with the highlight being Dwight Freeney out of Syracuse. Freeney, one of college's all-time best pass rushers, should be able to jumpstart a pathetic blitz package.
The Bad: Apparently, no one in Indianapolis thought that any of the defensive players were to blame for the problems last year. Thus, only one new free agent signing on that side was made in Walt Harris (Chicago). This isn't the shake-up that most people thought Dungy would be making. Edgerrin James needs to make a full recovery. His presence in the line-up takes pressure off Peyton Manning's shoulders. Dominic Rhodes, while putting up good numbers, is not the type of threat that James is. If James gets injured, look for Manning once again to press.
The Ugly: This defense can't be any worse than a year ago? Can it?
Synopsis: This team scares me. They have lethal weapons on offense and one of the best defensive-minded head coaches in the game. As long as Dungy doesn't screw up the offense and forces the defense onto the field constantly, he should have the defense playing much better than last year's pathetic display. This team will win the AFC South with participation in the AFC Championship game a distinct possibility. 10 - 11 wins.
Info received from http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/clubhouse?team=ind and http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/teams/colts/