For the Indianapolis Colts to rebound from a disappointing season, more than just the quarterback position needs an upgrade.
Since the season-ending debacle in Jacksonville, most discussion has centered around whether Indianapolis will make a change at quarterback. But while Carson Wentz’s performance in year one certainly left much to be desired, the Indianapolis Colts do have other areas to right the ship.
Regardless of what happens at the quarterback position, there are several other problems for General Manager Chris Ballard and Frank Reich to solve if the Colts are going to make noise next season.
3. Indianapolis Colts must improve the pass rush
In 2021, the Indianapolis Colts were stuck near the bottom of the NFL in total sacks with just 33, good for 25th in the league. Rookie defensive end Kwity Paye recorded just four sacks and three tackles for a loss, failing to live up to his first-round draft selection, while second-round pick Dayo Odeyingbo missed significant time due to injury.
While it may be frustrating one season after spending their top two picks at the position, the Colts may once again be in the market for pass rushers to complement pro bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.
Regardless, the team will at least somewhat start anew at the position with the departure of defensive line coach Brian Baker after two seasons.
2. Protect the blind side
It would be a massive understatement to say that veteran left tackle Eric Fisher has failed to live up to expectations in Indianapolis.
The former Chiefs lineman – who Chris Ballard made no secret of pursuing in free agency in part due to their past relationship in Kansas City – was frequently beaten in pass protection on his way to giving up seven sacks, according to statistics compiled by Pro Football Focus.
Many observers are undoubtedly wondering about the wisdom of the 2021 signing of a 31-year-old just a few months removed from a torn Achilles. In all likelihood, Indianapolis will be pursuing a new blind-side protector during free agency.
1. Acquire talented pass catchers
It wasn’t hard to tell that Indianapolis lacked playmakers at wide receiver this season. While Michael Pittman excelled in the top receiving role with 1,082 yards, the lack of other weapons significantly slowed down the Indianapolis offense.
This is in part owed to franchise star T.Y. Hilton and third-year pro Parris Campbell missing significant time to injuries. Campbell has been particularly injury-prone throughout his career, raising questions as to how long he can last in the NFL.
Meanwhile, promising young receiver Zach Pascal showed signs of regression, contributing just 384 receiving yards on 38 catches, a marked decline from his 629 yards the prior season.
And to complicate matters, Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle have both indicated that they may retire, with Hilton saying in a postgame press conference following the loss to Jacksonville that “I pretty much know what I want to do, but I just want to take some time and reflect.”
With defenses loading up the box on star running back Jonathan Taylor and keying in on Pittman in the secondary, another downfield threat is clearly needed in Indianapolis.
Each of these deficiencies are made more difficult by the lack of a first-round pick in the 2022 draft, but nonetheless merit serious attention in Indianapolis.