Rebuilding the Colts: How Indianapolis Can Fix Their Future

Rebuilding the Colts: How Indianapolis Can Fix Their Future

2022

Rebuilding the Colts: How Indianapolis Can Fix Their Future

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Via Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

When Indianapolis traded for Matt Ryan, expectations for the team soared. A top running game, an imposing defense, and a coach that many assumed could keep Ryan at the top of his game. Many pegged the Colts to win the AFC South, or at least to make the playoffs. 

But after a 3-3-1 start, Indianapolis pulled the plug on the Ryan experiment and threw 2021 6th-round pick Sam Ehlinger into the fire. Ehlinger was impressive, completing 17 of his 23 attempts for 201 yards, including an impressive 47-yard bomb to rookie Alec Pierce. 

While Ehlinger exceeded expectations in his first start, the Colts still fell to the Washington Commanders. Owner Jim Irsay is not one to rest on his laurels, as evident on Tuesday. Irsay and Reich fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, and traded away Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills. 

Those two moves are typically indicative of a team giving up on their season. So how will the Colts react and how will Irsay bring glory back to the city of Indianapolis? 

Make a Move for a Face of the Franchise

It is time. After a seemingly never-ending quarterback carousel, it is time to make a move for Andrew Luck’s true replacement. The Colts have yet to find an answer for the abrupt retirement of their Pro Bowl quarterback and Irsay should make that his number one priority. 

Per ESPNs Football Power Index, Indianapolis is projected to have the seventh overall pick. Many of the teams projected to pick in front of the Colts are in need of a quarterback, so odds are the Colts will have to move up for one of the consensus big three QBs. 

While Reich still has his job and is considered “safe” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s hard to see him sticking around. But if he does, Bryce Young would make the most sense for the Colts offense. His ability to diagnose defenses, make plays inside and outside of structure, and take care of the football will have any scout salivating. But the Colts need stability, more-so than any team. Matt Ryan led the league in fumbles and interceptions. Carson Wentz was known for his sporadic play. And Philip Rivers never excelled at limiting turnovers. Young could be the stability that they so desperately need. 

Front Office Changes Abound

While Reich has been taking the majority of the heat for the teams performance, general manager Chris Ballard needs to be under fire. Ballard has always wanted to build the team from the trenches out, but he has failed to live up to those standards in the past couple of seasons. The offensive line is abysmal and ultimately led to the demise of Ryan. The defensive line, while improved from 2021, has been mediocre at best. 

While Indianapolis has excelled in the draft, its the lack of aggressiveness from the front office that has limited this team’s potential. Ballard needs to be on the hot-seat, he needs to take a large majority of the blame for 2022’s letdown. 

If Irsay is as mad as many assume he is, Ballard and Reich are not going to make it to 2023. Irsay would be wise to promote assistant general manager Ed Dodds to the big boy job, while promoting Morocco Brown to assistant GM. The team has drafted well over the past several seasons so it would be important to keep some of the front office together, while also changing the decision making and aggressiveness at the top. 

Trade Key Offensive Asset

This may be a hot take, but in today’s NFL, running backs do not really matter. Sure, Jonathan Taylor led the league in rushing last year. But where did that get you… nowhere. Christian McCaffrey was traded for a 2023 second, third, and fourth-round pick along with a 2024 fifth-round pick. Jonathan Taylor is three years younger than McCaffrey, has far less injury concerns than him, and is far cheaper. 

While Taylor may be the face of the offense in its current state, a true franchise quarterback will change that. The NFL is a pass first league. Without a dominant passing game, you will simply be left in the dust. If you can salvage a first round pick and then some, it should be a no brainer. Ballard, or whoever is at the helm, will have a tough decision to make regarding Taylor, but it really should not be that difficult.

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