Overall Record: 11-5 (Regular Season), 1-1 (Postseason)
Division Winner? Yes. The race was kept tight despite two of the league’s worst teams (Houston and Jacksonville) being lapped easily. The Titans were in contention up until late November, and the Colts, despite some of their struggles over the second half of the season, managed to take the division somewhat by default with weak competition.
Milestones Of 2013: The continued maturation and growth of Andrew Luck has to be the biggest step towards continued success for the Colts. He still needs to improve his mental work, especially his tendencies to eyeball receiving targets, which allows aware defenders to predetermine the pass. Still, his clutch play is something that simply cannot be taught. Combined with his pure athleticism and other intangibles, Luck is the unquestioned QB of today and the forseeable future, and he proved it with his 2nd straight trip to the playoffs in as many years in the league.
With the unfortunate season-ending injury to WR Reggie Wayne, several other wideouts were given more opportunities to shine. T.Y. Hilton, already known as a dangerous player, cemented himself as one of the league’s better players at his position in Wayne’s absence. Along with him, players such as Coby Fleener (TE), Lavon Brazil and Griff Whalem emerged as legitimate options in the passing game.
Early in the season, the Colts made waves by trading their 2014 1st round pick for former first round RB Trent Richardson. The jury is still out on Richardson, who struggled for almost his entire first year with the Colts; an offseason to immerse himself in the program, along with continued work on his vision and agility, may see the trade pay better dividends in 2014. As it stands, the Browns got the better end of this deal…only, they essentially traded a 3rd overall pick for a 26th overall pick. So that point may be moot.
The offensive line was definitely improved, and 3rd round pick Hugh Thorton helped shore it up. Luck was sacked 32 times, nine less than he was in his rookie season. Improved play from LT Anthony Costanzo was also a welcome sight.
Defensively, the Colts were up and down all year, but got a hell of a season out of Robert Mathis, who led the league with 19.5 sacks. While Pat Angerer struggled with injuries most of the year, 2nd year ILB Jerrell Freeman improved upon his impressive rookie season and looks to be one of the up-and-coming defense stars in the league.
The Season In Review
The Colts were hot, cold and hot again throughout 2013, winning big games over the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos, while besting the Chiefs twice, including an incredible 28-point 2nd half comeback in the wildcard round. Sandwiched between these outstanding victories were games that were either too close for comfort, or losses that left us wondering whether or not the Colts had what it took to make a serious push come January. Their 38-8 shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Rams in November was by far their most baffling loss, but they managed to go a perfect 6-0 within the AFC South, earning their division title even if their division was most likely the worst in football.
After their wildcard shocker, the Colts were ground to a halt by a better prepared Patriots team in the divisonal round. Andrew Luck, for all of his success and comeback heroics, threw a combined seven interceptions in two playoff games, and ultimately that, combined with a serious lack of defensive backbone, led to their downfall, just two games away from the Superbowl.
Future Forecast: Bright. But the Colts, who are in solid shape salary cap-wise, need to combine a solid draft (2013’s draft looks like a miss, for the most part) and some key free agent signings to solidify their defense, no doubt their weak link in 2013. The secondary, in particular, could use an infusion of talent. As mentioned before, Luck must continue to progress on the mental side of his position, but I don’t see that not happening. An offensive identity that isn’t “wait until we’re losing and then start winging it and hope our ‘Luck’ holds out” needs to be found; the combination of Trent Richardson and Donald Brown should be an effective one-two punch in the running game, but that’s obviously dependent on whether or not Richardson can turn his game up a notch or two.
RB – C-
WR – B
TE – B
OL – B-
DL – C
LB – B
CB – D
FS/SS – D+
K/P – B+
KR/PR – C+
Team MVP: Andrew Luck, QB
Offensive MVP: Luck
Defensive MVP: Robert Mathis, OLB
Surprise Player Of 2013: Hugh Thorton, G
Rookie Of The Year: Thorton
Biggest Disappointment: Reggie Wayne’s season-ending injury.
Very Early 2014 Prediction: 11-5, AFC South Champions