Indianapolis Colts Weekly Update: 2018 Offseason

With the 2017 NFL season officially in the books for the Indianapolis Colts, the team has officially begun a 2018 offseason that is already showing signs of a drastic change for the team’s future.

Parting Ways with Pagano

Just hours after securing a victory against the division-rival Houston Texans on Sunday in Week 17, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and team owner Jim Irsay, along with plenty of other higher-ups in the organization, were meeting in what would result in the firing of Pagano.

Pagano, who would finish his Colts career with a 53-43 record, came to the Colts six years ago after serving as a defensive coordinator in Baltimore with the Ravens. In a statement from the team, owner Jim Irsay said that Chuck Pagano “provided Colts fans with many exciting wins and memories as head coach of the Colts,” and that during his time with the team, the coach “impacted the lives of the players he coached, those who he worked with in the organization and Colts fans across the globe.”

The Coaching Search Begins

Meeting with the press for their end-of-season press conferences on Monday, Irsay and now second-year general manager Chris Ballard spoke of the team’s new journey to find it’s next head coach for 2018.

“The general manager is in charge of leading the search, bringing in all candidates, bringing me, the owner, the best candidate or two or three and making his recommendations,” Irsay said of allowing Ballard to lead the charge. “There hasn’t been a time when I haven’t followed the recommendation of what the general manager recommended to me.”

“We’re going to be wide open,” Ballard added. “We’re going to get the right fit for the Indianapolis Colts.”

Offseason Storylines to Watch

Despite a disappointing season, Colts fans have plenty to look forward to in 2018. Not only will the team be bringing in a fresh new coaching staff, the team also holds the #3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and will have reportedly over $60 million in cap space, giving Ballard plenty to work with when it comes to retooling the team.



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Indianapolis Colts: NFL Draft Reaction

With new general manager Chris Ballard looking to add his own personal touches to the roster, the Indianapolis Colts are undergoing a massive face lift of sorts. Phase two of this re-tooling of the roster came in the 2017 NFL Draft. What are experts around the league saying about the Colts’ selections?

To recap, a look at the Indianapolis Colts draft class:

Round 1, Pick 15: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Round 2, Pick 46: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Round 3, Pick 80: Tarell Basham, EDGE, Ohio

Round 4, Pick 137: Zach Banner, G, USC

Round 4, Pick 143: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida

Round 4, Pick 144: Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State

Round 5, Pick 158: Nate Hairston, CB, Temple

Round 5, Pick 161: Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated Draft Grade: A

“Incredible value for the Colts at each of their first three picks: Safety Malik Hooker (No. 15 overall) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (46) should be instant starters in the secondary, while edge rusher Tarell Basham (80) at least can make an impact on passing downs. For a team whose defense picked off just eight passes last season and lost OLBs Erik Walden (free agency) and Robert Mathis (retirement), this was a critical restocking. RB Marlon Mack (Round 4) is a home-run threat to slot in behind Frank Gore, while fifth-round LB Anthony Walker has three-down potential. The only shoddy pick was OT Zach Banner, who faces a long road to being a serviceable NFL blocker.” To read the entire story, click here.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN Draft Grade: B

“New general manager Chris Ballard inherited a porous defense, and he went that direction with his first three picks. Malik Hooker could have gone as high as No. 7, but the one-year wonder dropped to 15. He’s the best center fielder in his class, and some have compared him to Ed Reed, but Hooker needs to improve as a tackler. He’s a ballhawk who is recovering from having surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and repair sports hernias. Ballard did a nice job addressing the defense, but there’s still a long ways to go. I also wouldn’t have minded a tight end to replace the departed Dwayne Allen.” To read Kiper’s NFL Draft grades, click here.

Chad Reuter, Draft Grade: A-

“The skinny: In the first round, the Colts got the rangiest safety prospect since Earl Thomas. They got very good value at No. 15 at a major position of need. It’s a big win for the Colts’ defense. Indianapolis had to be thrilled to get Quincy Wilson to help out Hooker in the secondary. Tarell Basham is a pass rusher who can covert power to speed on the edge; getting him in the third was a good deal. Indianapolis made very good back-to-back picks in the late fourth with running back Marlon Mack (slasher with more power than you’d think) and defensive tackle Grover Stewart (nose tackle with good footwork). Zach Banner was a stretch in the fourth round, though he could be a D.J. Fluker or Orlando Franklin-type guard. In the fifth, Anthony Walker provides strength in the middle of their defense. This was a well-executed draft.” To read more of Chad Reuter’s NFL Draft grades, click here.

Dieter Kurtenbach, Fox Sports Draft Grade: A

“A tremendous draft. This is the kind of work that can totally change the complexion of teams — it’s funny how you can do that when you already have your quarterback. Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson will be All-Pro caliber players for that defense. Tarell Basham is an intriguing third-round project. Great picks in RB Marlon Mack, CB Nate Hairston, and LB Anthony Walker as well. Would have liked to have seen another offensive lineman taken to balance out the reach on Zach Banner, but that’s the only knock.” To read more of Dieter Kurtenbach’s NFL Draft grades, click here.


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Indianapolis Colts Draft: #15, DB Malik Hooker

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday night, the emphasis turned to offense early, with seven of the top 10 picks being offensive players. A good sign for the defense-needy Indianapolis Colts, a top-10 talent fell to the #15 slot. Here are what experts from around the web are saying about the newest Colts defensive back, Malik Hooker out of Ohio State.

Mike Wells, ESPN NFL Reporter

“Hooker, who became a full-time starter at Ohio State last season, has something the Colts needed last season: ball instincts. He returned three of his seven interceptions for touchdowns last season at Ohio State. The Colts didn’t return any interceptions for a touchdown in 2016. Ballard mentioned Hooker being “unique” a number of times during his media conference Thursday evening. Hooker is another piece in Ballard’s attempt to revamp what has routinely been one of the NFL’s worse defenses under Pagano. ” For the full article, click here.

Josh Wilson, Stampede Blue

“A lot of it comes down to the fact that Hooker gives the Colts a lot of flexibility, more so than they already had at safety. The Colts now have a safety group that features Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers, Darius Butler, and T.J. Green, meaning the Colts have three young guys with upside and a veteran making the move to safety. This pick gives the Colts the flexibility to utilize some of those guys in other areas that could help mitigate some of the concerns about other areas of need.” For the full article, click here.

Jeanna Thomas, SB Nation

Malik Hooker is an elite free safety in a class that’s stacked with them. The Indianapolis Colts got an All-American with great range and closing speed to upgrade their secondary when they took Hooker with the No. 15 overall pick. Hooker is a phenomenal athlete and has all of the talent he needs to excel at the free safety position in the NFL. His fluidity and change-of-direction skills are advanced for a player with such limited starting experience, and will serve him well at the next level. Once he refines his technique and puts it all together, he should become an All-Pro caliber player.” For the full article, click here.

Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star

“But this isn’t normal. The Colts didn’t pick a normal guy. The Colts just selected a player they literally have no idea how good he can be – because he hasn’t played much football. Like, barely any compared to someone else, anyone else, taken in the first round of the draft. So maybe he’s not the best tackler. Maybe he takes imperfect angles. An athlete like this, he’ll get better with more coaching, more experience, more reps. How much better? That’s the thing: Nobody has any idea. But man it’s going to be fun to find out.” For the full article, click here.

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Indianapolis Colts Week 15: Playoff Hopes Survive

As the Indianapolis Colts traveled to the frigid city of Minneapolis, MN to take on the Minnesota Vikings, the quest for the AFC South took another hit for the team, despite dominating the Vikings wire to wire. This week’s Colts Weekly Update presented by Bullseye Event Group.


Flawless Victory

The Indianapolis Colts dominated the Vikings #1-ranked defense on Sunday, heading home with at 34-6 victory.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck put together his most complete performance of the 2016 campaign, completing 21 of his 28 passes, for 250 yards and two touchdowns, before taking a seat in the 4th quarter. Running back Frank Gore also ran for 101 yards on 26 carries, marking the first time the Colts have had two 100-yard rushers in the same season since 2010.

The defense also held their ground, holding the Vikings to just two field goals throughout the entire game. No doubt, the most complete performance of any Colts game this year.

Too Little, Too Late?

In a twist that captures the essence of this Colts season, despite the team’s dominant victory, the playoff chances seemed to diminish. Although the Kansas City Chiefs were beating the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars were leading the Houston Texans, both the Texans and Titans rallied to win, thus striking a blow to the Colts playoff chances.

If the Colts hope to take the AFC South and host a playoff game in January, the odds must be ever in their favor come weeks 16 and 17.

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Indianapolis Colts Week 6: Epic Collapse

The Indianapolis Colts held a 23-9 lead over the Houston Texans with a little more than seven minutes left in the game on Sunday night. And if you’re a Colts fan that decided to go to bed after Andrew Luck’s touchdown run and Adam Vinatieri’s field goals that put the team up by 14, you were in for a surprise when you woke up on Monday morning.


The Collapse

After a dominant first three quarters for the Colts, head coach Chuck Pagano and company squandered a 14-point lead with two quick drives from quarterback Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans. Tied at 23-23 with 49 seconds and two timeouts left, the Colts had an opportunity to drive the field and position future hall of famer Adam Vinatieri for a potential game-winning field goal.

They didn’t. They went to overtime. The rest is history.

Two of the GOATs

For the first time since Vick Ballard in Week 15 of the 2012 season (ironically a loss to the Houston Texans), the Indianapolis Colts snapped a 61-game streak in which they failed to produce a 100-yard rusher.

Frank Gore finished the day with 106 yards on the ground, garnering a *small* amount of celebration before the ultimate defeat.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri also completed a feat of his own, connecting on three field goals to pull into second place all-time for most consecutive field goals made. Vinatieri has now hit 41 in a row, just one shy of former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt’s record of 42 straight.

What Now?

The Colts, who now sit alone in the basement of the AFC South at 2-4, will travel to Tennessee to face a Titans team that has won two in a row, and looked somewhat impressive in doing so. The Colts must win the game in order to not only breathe some life into the fan base, but also to resuscitate their divisional and playoff hopes.

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Indianapolis Colts Week 4: London (Colts) Are Falling Down

The Indianapolis Colts were participants in the NFL’s first International Series game of the season, as the team took on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. After falling to the Jags 30-27, the Colts now head back for the United States with a 1-3 record.


Luck, No Luck

The Colts are doing quarterback Andrew Luck no favors. Luck has showed fans that his offseason work on sliding, protecting himself and making smarter decisions with the football was worth the scrutiny. The team around him, however, is upending the QB’s great start to 2016.

Luck is taking a league-high number of hits in the pocket, has the least amount of time to throw, and on Sunday against Jacksonville, saw multiple footballs dropped. It was apparent early in the game that it would be a frustrating campaign, as Luck had passes dropped by Dwayne Allen multiple times, Josh Ferguson, Chester Rogers and Phillip Dorsett.

Zero Focus

Luck admitted that he and the team were “not focused” on Sunday’s matchup in London, which leads fans to wonder if the International Series served as more of a distraction that originally believed. After the game, Luck was candid in his frustrations with the media, telling reporters “I’m tired of ‘almost,’ I want to win.”

Looking Forward

The Colts head back to the States to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. A matchup that previously seemed to favor the Colts, Bears backup QB Brian Hoyer looked good in leading his team to a victory on Sunday over the Detroit Lions, a team the Colts fell to in week 1.

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Road to Super Bowl LI: Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are looking for drastic improvement following their 2015 campaign, which saw an 8-8 record and missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Here is what the road to Super Bowl LI in Houston looks like for the horseshoe.


Toughest Stretch

The Colts face their toughest test of the season, beginning in week 5 and leading up to their week 10 bye.

After returning from a week 4 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, the Colts will face not only the obstacle of overseas travel, but also a short week as a result of that travel, in preparing for a week 5 matchup against the Chicago Bears at home. After just a week at home, the Colts will then go on the road to take on division rivals in the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, return home to face the Kansas City Chiefs, then travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. All before their week 11 bye.

This five-to-six week stretch of time is when Colts fans are going to find out what the team is made of, battling not only potential-playoff contenders, but also travel, time and fatigue.

Par for the Course

The Colts face the AFC West and NFC North divisions in the 2016 regular season, giving them many noteworthy potential playoff-contending opponents.

However, with a redesigned coaching staff and an invigorated Andrew Luck, it’s hard seeing Indianapolis sinking below the 11-5 threshold the team was able to achieve in all of Luck and head coach Chuck Pagano’s first three years, before the 8-8 meltdown with the quarterback.

Whether or not the offensive line has been heavily redesigned enough by general manager Ryan Grigson, however, will change these predictions and expectations.

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Colts Mini-Camp & A Movie

The Indianapolis Colts will host their annual mini-camp and open house event for the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, June 8. Here is what you can expect from the evening with the Colts as they begin their march toward Super Bowl 51 in Houston.

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The event is free, but a ticket is still required to get in. Tickets will be available at will-call at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Gates to Lucas Oil Stadium open at 2 p.m. ET, where fans will have the ability to go down onto the field and take part in contests, games, photos with Colts cheerleaders and more.

At 5:30 p.m. ET, the boys in blue will take to the field as fans will get their first glimpse of the 2016 Indianapolis Colts squad. Fans eager to see Andrew Luck back in action after missing the second half of the 2015 regular season, rejoice!

At 8 p.m. ET, the Colts invite you to take your blankets, settle in and get cozy on the field for a special in-stadium screening of “The Lego Movie.” Hopefully, this Colts movie night will go a little bit better than the Tennessee Titans, who apparently host movie nights like they play football; not well.

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Andrew Luck’s Playing Style

If the Indianapolis Colts want any chance at making Super Bowl 51, quarterback Andrew Luck is going to have to remain healthy. But the question looming as the Colts begin OTAs is whether or not Luck should change the way he approaches the game.

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Should Change

Andrew Luck suffered a season-ending lacerated kidney in week 9 of the NFL’s regular season, a game which saw the Colts defeat the undefeated and eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

The Colts offensive line was, let’s just say, less than desirable in 2015, and one would be tempted to blame Luck’s injury riddled campaign on this. However, the injury that ended up shelving Luck for the remainder of the season wasn’t sustained in the pocket; rather, a scramble.

In the 2nd half, Luck scrambled and was hit by two Broncos defenders, folding the QB into a nasty hit. No offensive linemen. No pocket breakdown. This scramble was for a first down, a run that Luck chose to make, resulting in an injury.

Although admirable, Luck’s drive to get the first down at all costs did not help when it came to injuries. Learning when and how to properly slide could benefit the quarterback.

Devil’s Advocate

But what about all of those gutsy comebacks? Those games won, those 4th-quarter drives that were revived by a scrambling Luck’s motivation to reach the marker?

True, Luck’s motivation to put the team on his back is far and large why the Colts have had success in the quarterback’s first 3.5 seasons (we’re not going to count the second half of last year). Luck has already broken Colts records for QB rushing touchdowns and yards, and his ability to move when needed is incredibly valuable to the Colts offense.

Bottom line, there is a mixture of the two that must occur. While Luck doesn’t need to entirely become a docile, fragile quarterback who takes a sack falling down, he also will need to modify his game to learn when to step out of bounds or take a slide.

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NFL OTAs: Who To Watch

As the road to Super Bowl 51 in Houston begins to gain some steam, the next step in the NFL’s offseason programs is OTAs, or organized team activities. Here’s who you should be watching as the Indianapolis Colts begin their offseason OTAs.

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Offensive Line

The offensive line, as many Colts fans know, underwent a massive reconstruction in the offseason, with general manager Ryan Grigson taking four linemen in the eight picks the Colts held in the 2016 NFL Draft.

All eyes will be on center Ryan Kelly out of Alabama, the Colts 1st-round selection (#18 overall), and how he meshes and bonds with quarterback Andrew Luck. Kelly plays a position that has seemingly been a turnstile of players for the Colts in the past.

How the coaching staff plans to configure the rest of the offensive line remains to be seen. Linemen Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort have their positions virtually guaranteed, but the other two positions remain question marks for the Colts. A slimmed-down Hugh Thornton hopes to contribute, second-year Denzelle Good, and rookies La’Raven Clark and Joe Haeg will fight to be in the mix as well.

Colts fans just hope this means the beginning of a stable offensive line, and a healthy quarterback.

Andrew Luck

After a year in which Luck missed nine games due to various injuries, the Colts quarterback is going to reportedly change his style of play, in a way that protects himself more.

How Luck returns to form after those injuries, however, is what fans should try and sneak glimpses of in the network coverage of Colts OTAs.

Colts fans haven’t seen Andrew Luck throw a football since that week 9 victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, and are eager to see the QB return to his original form.

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