The 2021 season was nothing short of a rollercoaster for the Indianapolis Colts.

After only five contests, Indianapolis appeared to be dead in the water with a 1-4 record. Miraculously, The Shoe was able to pick themselves up, and grab prime playoff real estate sitting at 9-6.. Or so it seemed. In standard ’21 Colts fashion, Indy lost both of their final 2 contests, finishing the year at 9-8 and no postseason berth.

As a result, the Colts decided to cut the Carson Wentz experiment short after just one go around, bringing in Matt Ryan as the team’s new quarterback. This is a development Indianapolis fans have been accustomed to over the last handful of years, as Ryan becomes the fourth QB1 for the Colts over the last four seasons.

With yet another change under center, Indy hopes they finally got this one right, and can prance back into the NFL postseason. There’s still some things that need to be taken care of before Indianapolis gets there, though.

Let’s check it out.

Colts NFL Playoffs?

2. Jonathan Taylor comes first

This is very simple; Luckily for the Colts, they have a division rival to pattern a game plan after.

Taylor and Derrick Henry are the same type of backs. Big, bullies who want to run at you. They want to go right through the trenches, whether the defense is lax or showing an 8-man box. They want to bully your defensive line, and more times than not, they will get their wish.

Since the Titans started running their offense around Henry, Tennessee has yet to miss a postseason appearance. They’ve not only made the playoffs back-to-back-to-back (x3) for the first and only time as Titans, but have constructed their first double-digit win season since 2008.

In short, the Titans have been the test subject for this Colts team. Indianapolis has watched their division rivals have the most success they’ve had since becoming the Titans, and now it’s time to follow suit with their own Derrick Henry.

In 2021, Taylor rushed for a league-leading 1,811 yards. The stud running back also ran in 18 touchdowns, with an additional 2 through the air. When the smoke cleared, Taylor found himself atop the league in rushing yards, scrimmage yards, rushing touchdowns, scrimmage touchdowns, and even the longest rushing attempt.

As a result, Taylor was named a first-team All-Pro, placing second in the Offensive Player of the Year race. For his efforts, he was given a PFF grade of 87.0.

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Taylor’s presence in the run game will also prove to be an asset for Matt Ryan. Per NFL Network, Ryan was the second-best deep ball passer in 2021. Keeping opposing defenses honest with Taylor will only help Ryan and the Colts in this regard, as it helped Wentz come in at no.7 on the same list.

Tennessee has laid out the template for success, and if the Colts follow it, their chances of making the postseason maximize in 2022.

1. Defense must perform even half as good as they are on paper

What a defense the Colts have on paper. With superstars such as Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner, this defense was already scary. Add nickel corner Kenny Moore, who may be the best slot cornerback leaguewide, and you have to game plan accordingly.

Now, add ’21 Pro Bowl alternate Yannick Ngakoue and ’19 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, and things can get messy fast for opposing offenses.

Let’s start with this secondary.

Gilmore, Moore and Isaiah Rodgers man the cornerback spots, and boy is this a deadly trio. We know Gilmore is a former Defensive Player of the Year, and we should know Kenny Moore is an elite nickelback, but Rodgers is great in his own right.

Last season, per Pro Football Focus, Rodgers earned a top-20 coverage grade via cornerbacks leaguewide. Altogether, Rodgers’ grade was 70.7. Of the three, the lowest PFF grade was an impressive 66.6 from Moore, with Gilmore reaching a 77.1 mark.

To add to the secondary, Indianapolis added the extremely versatile Maryland safety, Nick Cross.

This secondary should only be better with the help from Indy’s stout defensive line. With Ngakoue, Bucker and ’21 rookie Kwity Paye, there’s a lot to like here as well.

Over the last two-seasons, Buckner ranks fourth in combined sacks and quarterback hits among interior defensive linemen. Ngakoue reunites with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who coached Yannick in ’21. The newest starting Colt on the defensive line recorded 10 sacks under Bradley last year.

Of course, in the third and final defensive unit rests All-Pro Darius Leonard. Since joining the league, Leonard has been nothing less than sensational. The linebacker has played four seasons, and subsequently earned four All-Pro awards; Three first-teams, and one second. Leonard has never earned a PFF grade under 72.5.

If this Indianapolis is just twice as good as it’s written down on paper, this will be one that consistently causes havoc. Make sure the unit is performing well, and hello postseason.