The Colts…Change in the wind.
Result: Missed Playoffs
2019 Regular season record: 7-9
2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 16th 22.6 PPG
2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 18th 23.3 PPG
2020 Draft First Round Pick: none
Coach: Frank Reich
The Offseason Scenario:
2019 was a weird year in Indy.
Sure, they went 7-9 with a new coach and a QB who used to be Tom Brady’s backup’s backup. But really, Jacoby Brissett wasn’t bad by most accounts. Dude threw for just under 3,000 yards, so that’s not really scintillating, but he did throw 18 TDs to only 6 interceptions for a passer rating of 88.0.
Those numbers might not scream elite to you, but it’s the exact same passer rating that Tom Brady had this year, and it was higher than Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, Jared Goff, Josh Allen, Mitchell Trubisky, Joe Flacco and Nick Foles. So, among his young quarterback peers, and a handful of Super Bowl MVP’s, it stands up. It’s also only .5 below the rating posted by Philip Rivers, a fact that will be extremely important in the next section…
So, the Colts weren’t great, that isn’t super interesting on its face. What’s a little odd is HOW the Colts ended up at 7-9. After week 8 of the season, the Colts were 5-2, with wins over Tennessee, Houston and Kansas City under their belt.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Then, Indy came apart at the seams, losing seven of their final nine games to miss the playoffs, and that’s got to hurt. So, maybe it is time for some tweaks, but are they tweaking the right things?
Free Agent Frenzy:
As I alluded to a moment ago, the Colts went out and brought in 38-year old veteran Philip Rivers to reboot the franchise.
Rivers isn’t exactly a spring chicken. We know that quarterbacks are playing longer now, but is it wise to essentially bench the young and above average Brissett for a guy that has only one or two years left in the tank? Is the argument that somehow their young quarterback underperformed, or was uneven?
His highest completion percentage of the year came in a loss to the Chargers. He threw for only 170 yards but had two touchdowns and no interceptions.
In other words, Brissett wasn’t necessarily the problem.
Now if the goal is to bring Rivers in to help mold their young QB, that’s not a terrible idea, except that Rivers hasn’t exactly molded a ton of young NFL-ready QBs the way some other veterans have.
At the end of the day, I guess I just find the market for late-career quarterbacks to be just a little strange. The Colts seem ok to let pieces of this offense slide away in free agency, allowing TE Eric Ebron to jump ship to Pittsburgh, and WR Devin Funchess to link up with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
Defensively, Indy has been relatively quiet in free agency, but they did bring in Xavier Rhodes from Minnesota. The veteran CB had a down year in 2019, the only season since his rookie year in which he failed to have an interception, so it’s a one-year deal to kick the tires and see how he adapts in the Colts defensive scheme. Most importantly though, the Colts traded for 49ers DT DeForest Buckner, a move that will certainly help Indy stifle the run and get after the quarterback.
Seriously Premature Draft Hunches:
The Colts are without their first-round selection, after trading it away in the Buckner deal. The elite talent will certainly shore up a defense that was just south of mediocre in 2019, but it leaves the Colts in a weird spot. They don’t have a first-round pick, but they do have two early picks in the second round, at numbers 34 and 44.
The Philip Rivers deal means that they’re most likely set at QB, but only for a limited time. If they felt the need to bring him in, it means that they probably don’t like Brissett for the long term. With that in mind, I like the Colts to target a quarterback to groom under Rivers early in the second round. That could be a few guys just below the elite tier, but one name keeps coming up when discussing the Colts, Jacob Eason out of Washington.
Eason is considered a fringe first rounder with a ton of potential, so if he’s around when the Colts are on the clock, they might well grab him. If the name sounds familiar, you’re probably a Patriots fan. Tony Eason was under center for New England in the eighties. Strangely, Jacob Eason is the son of a Tony Eason, but not THAT Tony Eason. Jacob’s dad was a Notre Dame QB back in the day, though.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.