2017 was a season we all can hopefully soon forget. In this article I will break down the 2017 offense, as well as look into what Chris Ballard may be thinking in terms of how to construct the unit for next year.
Offense: Overall D-
Just to quickly break it down. The Indianapolis Colts finished with the 31th best offense in the league, or the 2nd worst, whichever way you would prefer to look at it. They were also 30th in scoring offense, scoring only 263 points, or 16 points per game. Sustaining drives was perhaps the biggest downfall of the offense as the season progressed, as they only picked up 267 first downs, and drives ended in scores only 29% of the time.
Passing Offense: D-
Diving further in, the Colts, led for most of the season by Jacoby Brissett, threw for 13 touchdowns, which was 31st, for under 3000 yards. To put how badly the passing offense performed into perspective, in 2011, the Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, Kerry Collins led Colts had 14 passing touchdowns, and more yards.
Weapons like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Chester Rodgers were all to inconsistent for the majority of the season. Perhaps the only reliable target was Jack Doyle. Compounding the problems in the receiving corp was the lackluster pass blocking along with Brissett’s tendency to hold on to the ball far too long. The 2nd year quarterback was sacked 52 times this past season.
- Jack Doyle: 80 Catches for 690 yards, 4 touchdowns.
- T.Y. Hilton: 57 Catches, 966 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Frank Gore: 29 catches, 245 yards, 1 touchdown
- Donte Moncrief: 26 catches, 391 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Chester Rogers: 23 catches, 284 yards, 1 touchdown
The Most glaring statistic to me is the fact that T.Y. Hilton hauled in 57 catches on 109 targets. Just over 50 % catch rate. For comparison sake, Jack Doyle led the team with 80 catches on 1 less target than Hilton (108). The 4 time Pro-Bowler was boom or bust all season long, and the inconsistent offense seemed to go how T.Y. went.
Rushing Offense: C-
Running the ball was slightly better. Led by All Time Great Frank Gore, the Colts were able to rush for nearly 1700 yards and 11 touchdowns, good for 22nd in the league in yards and 19th in td’s.
- Frank Gore: 961 yards, 3.7 ypc, 3 touchdowns
- Marlon Mack: 358 yards, 3.8 ypc, 3 touchdowns
- Jacoby Brissett: 260 yards, 4 touchdowns
Despite his age and battling of nagging injuries, Frank Gore yet again led the Colts in rushing, and showed really good burst in finishing the season strong. In what was perhaps his last game with the Colts, Gore rushed for 100 yards on 24 carries, including a 16 yard scamper.
Marlon Mack showed flashes of brilliance for a rookie running back, but also looked like an inexperienced and indecisive runner in other times. Fumbling the ball and dropping several passes, as well as missing blitz pickups were a big reason why the rookie didn’t get as much playing time as many would like to have seen. Despite that, he still posted one of the biggest breakaway %’s in the NFL. With 583 scrimmage yards on just over 110 touches, Mack may be one of the most exciting Colts to watch in 2018.
Believe it or not, the Colts were one of the best teams in the league when it came to committing the fewest turnovers. They finished 4th in giveaways with only 15 all season long. Typically when you see such high level of success in terms of limiting turnovers, you will find a playoff team. The only 3 teams ahead of the Colts were Kansas City, New England, and Minnesota. Two of those teams are playing for a trip to the Super Bowl next weekend.
Major Decisions Looming:
- Frank Gore (rb)
- Kamar Aiken (wr)
- Jack Mewhort (OG)
- Donte Moncrief (wr)
- Scott Tolzien (qb)
- Brandon Williams (TE)
In the Free Agency period for the Indianapolis Colts this offense, Chris Ballard seems to have only a few decisions to make regarding impending free agents.
Do the Colts resign aging Frank Gore?
Has Donte Moncrief earned a 2nd contract here?
That may be it on the offensive side of the ball.
What is needed for a successful 2018 season on offense?
- First of all, the most important thing the Colts can do is get a healthy Andrew Luck back. Luck missed the entire 2017 season due to offseason shoulder surgery and difficulties rehabbing back from that. If the Colts can get him back healthy, they will have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. This instantly will boost the Colts to a point where they can again have a potential top 10 offense. T.Y. Hilton has proven to be one of the best wr’s in the league when he has Andrew throwing him the ball, and it will open up the running game even more and take more pressure off of the offensive line. Step 1, get Andrew Luck back
- Scheme to help the o-line. It’s appearing the New England Patriots OC Josh McDaniels is the front runner for the Colts head job after the Patriots run in the playoffs ends. The Patriots always have a great scheme which helps Tom Brady stay clean and get rid of the ball quickly. This will not only help Andrew Luck, but it will keep pressure off of the line to hold up for as long. In 2017, Jacoby Brissett was constantly holding on the the ball too long. When reviewing the tape, there were far too many times in which the offense did not have check downs, or had vanilla check downs which were easy to cover. There were not many drag routes or slants that can help against blitzes and heavy pressure looks by a defense. Regardless of who the coach is next season, a new scheme will help greatly with an O-line that has struggled and will need time to mold yet again next season.
- The Colts need to find a weapon opposite of T.Y. Hilton. T.Y. is not capable of taking over a game consistently by himself. He struggle when teams are able to jam him at the line while at the same time keeping defenders deep on him and taking away the over the top plays which has made him famous. Look for the Colts to continue searching for a weapon opposite of Hilton to take some of the burden off of the 4 time pro-bowler. It may be in the draft or in a free agency. A possession receiver such as Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, or Terrelle Pryor could be here next season.
- Running Back . I do not think that Saquan Barkley will be the choice for a variety of reasons come the NFL draft this spring. However, that doesn’t mean the Colts do not need another running back to pair with Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin. Perhaps the Colts draft another young running back mid draft, or they may even get out the wallet and pay a free agent like Leveon Bell (unless franchise tagged). Regardless, they need another running back because I don’t feel that Marlon Mack is an every down back at this point in his career.
The Indianapolis Colts need a lot of work, and on offense things could be looking up. Adding a weapon or two along with a scheme to help the o-line is a start. However it may all be up to getting a healthy Andrew Luck back and pairing him with a great scheme to get them back on track. Til then, keep following us for all the Colts insight you may need.