3 biggest X-Factors for the Indianapolis Colts in 2019
The Indianapolis Colts were not expected to take the NFL by storm last season with a struggling offensive line, new head coach, and a quarterback coming off a lengthy injury. To the surprise of many, their offensive line was considered the best in the league last season leading Andrew Luck to another Pro Bowl selection. Head coach Frank Reich brought his new team back from the dead, channeling his historic ’92 comeback against the Houston Oilers.
Reich’s fantastic leadership turned the Colts past misfortunes around and changed the culture of the team for the better. Now that Indianapolis has a realistic chance of contending with their elite offense, this unit will need to pick up where it left off, and their defense will need to get on the same track. Here are a few key factors that could lead the Colts to another playoff appearance this season.
While it would be unfair to expect Houston to perform as he did in his early days with Kansas City, a double-digit sack season may not be out of the realm of possibilities for the 2014 sack leader. Houston does not have age on his side, and he has not played a full season since his single All-Pro season, but he could be an excellent addition considering the Colts lack of a pass-rush for the last few seasons.
Linebacker Darius Leonard was an extraordinary pick in last year’s draft, proving to be the team’s defensive leader. Leonard’s presence should take the pressure off Houston to be the sole contributor on defense as he once was in Kansas City. If Houston’s career can get a boost with the change of scenery, the Colts’ defense may prove to be a nice complement to their offense.
The Colts appear to have found the running back they have been looking for so many years now considering how fantastic Mack was in 2018. The Colts, unfortunately, did not get Mack for a full season, but once he came at full health, there was no looking back from that point on.
Mack turned 195 carries into 905 yards and nine touchdowns, taking full advantage of a top-ranked Indianapolis offensive line. The Colts’ offense was amongst the best in the league last season, so it’s easy to believe they will repeat the success they had in 2018. Now that Indianapolis appears to have a running game to match their elite aerial attack, their offense could be the most potent heading into the new season.
After Mack’s return in Week 6 last season, the Colts were one of the strongest teams in the league and quietly saw themselves rise to high amongst the power rankings. If Mack can continue to act as the workhorse in Indianapolis, the Colts are on their way to another strong run at a Super Bowl appearance.
Luck’s success last season was closely tied to the excellence of the line in front of him. Finally, after years of drafting and constructing a line in hopes of protecting Indianapolis’ star quarterback, the Colts’ stellar line was incredible last season. Drafting Quenton Nelson in the first round in 2018 was likely the final piece to the puzzle, as his elite level of play earned him first-team All-Pro honors.
The Colts’ success stemmed from the toughness and undeniable resiliency from the big guys in the trenches, and if they hope to return to the postseason, they will need to build upon last season. For the first time in years, Andrew Luck played at full health or at least very close to it and the fact that he was the least sacked quarterback in the league last season must have been a nice change of pace. The success of the Colts lies with their offense and if the line can keep Andrew Luck protected there’s no reason to believe Indianapolis won’t succeed this season.