Let’s start our preview of the AFC South Division today by taking a look at the Indianapolis Colts. Veteran gunslinger Philip Rivers led the Colts to an impressive 11-5 record in 2020 as well as a playoff berth. However, Indy lost a heartbreaker in the Wild Card Round to the Bills and Rivers decided to retire.
Colts head coach Frank Reich and the team’s front office decided to bring in Carson Wentz as the new QB this offseason (gamblingsites.com). Will the change of scenery work out well for Wentz after an awful ending in Philly?
The acquisition of Carson Wentz raised a few eyebrows with many die-hard Colts fans. The 28-year old suffered through his worst season as a pro in 2020 by throwing a career-high 15 interceptions. However, the 6-5 237 pounder should feel right at home with coach Reich by his side as the two worked well together in Philly for several years.
The strength of this Colts offense will be their bullying offensive line and tough running game. Running back Jonathan Taylor is coming off a sensational rookie campaign that saw him rush for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns. Expect another big year from Taylor in 2021 as he enjoys running behind left tackle Eric Fisher and center Ryan Kelly.
The Colts receiving corp should have Wentz smiling, especially since T.Y. Hilton decided to come back this year after hinting at retirement. Hilton’s production has dropped off a bit but he still has world-class speed and caught five touchdowns last season. The Colts are hoping that both Michael Pittman Jr. (503 yards, 1 TD LY) and Parris Campbell (6 catches, 71 yards LY) will have breakout seasons in 2021.
The Colts defended the run incredibly well in 2020 and ended up ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (90.5). That stingy defensive line should again perform well in 2021 with big guys like DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart anchoring the tackle positions. Darius Leonard is a top-notch tackler (132 tackles LY) and leads the linebacking corps.
Indy didn’t blitz much in 2020 but that should change this season as they drafted a stud pass rusher in Kwity Paye out of Michigan in the first round. The Colts’ secondary should be decent in 2021 with cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin and Xavier Rhodes leading that solid unit.
2021 Special Teams
Former University of Georgia star Rodrigo Blankenship had a stellar rookie year in 2020 as the Colts starting kicker. “Hot Rod” will be back this year after hitting 32 of his 37 field goal attempts last year. Rigoberto Sanchez will return for his fifth season as the Colts punter after averaging a career-high 46.2 yards per boot in 2020.
The punt and kick return duties will be handled by Nyheim Hines and Isaiah Rodgers. Hines had 300 punt return yards last year and took two punts back for touchdowns in 2019. Rodgers had 692 kick return yards and a touchdown in 2020.