The Colts' coaching staff remains relatively unchanged from last year, aside from the addition of Rob Chudzinski as Chuck Pagano's assistant. That means the Colts come into 2014 having a stable set up that, outside of Pagano, features Pep Hamilton as Offensive Coordinator and Greg Manusky as Defensive Coordinator.
In terms of schemes, the Colts run a variant of the West Coast they like to call the ‘No Coast' offense,which caught some criticism from Indianapolis fans and media last season for being too rigid, ugly and direction-less. This year Hamilton has called for the team to be more direct, and many expect the return of tight end Dwayne Allen to make a huge difference to the fluidity of the offense.
Redskins Recon: Week 12 at San Francisco 49ers
The Redskins will travel to San Francisco in week 12 of the 2014 season to face the 49ers in their new home - the impressive "Levi’s Stadium". Having been outplayed by the 49ers in 2013 in Washington, how will the Redskins match up this time?
Andrew Luck will look to continue to improve after another solid year that took his team to the playoffs for the second time in two years. The hype around Luck often masks his play which has been steady but not spectacular. He has a knack for making comebacks which are always going to steal the limelight, but a lot of people suggest that if his play was better for the rest of these games he wouldn't need to make such dramatic comebacks. Still, that is not a bad talent to have. Coming into his third year in the NFL, and another year in the same offense will help him step up to the next level, and he certainly will be a threat that the Redskins need to pay attention to both in the passing game. And you can't forget he has a tendency to get yards with his legs as well.
The receiving corps has been upgraded, not least by the return of Reggie Wayne from injury. This has to come with some red flags however. Wayne is 35 and returning from an ACL injury, so it is going to be a tall order for him to return to his pre-injury form any time soon, if ever. They also added Hakeem Nicks through free agency (who needs to prove his worth after a poor season with the Giants in 2013), and have the emerging TY Hilton as well as rookie Donte Moncrief to add into the mix. This is bolstered by a nice selection of pass catching tight ends (Allen and Coby Fleener), so Luck will have plenty of weapons if he has time in the pocket and everyone steps up to the plate.
The Colts also utilise a power running game that relies on traps and pulling from it's offensive line (want to learn more about the power run scheme? Click here). This line has seen a lot of changes and rotation over the last couple of years, and the offseason additions in the draft and free agency need to help this unit settle down. Their running game has struggled a bit, and the Colts are hoping that Trent Richardson steps up and justifies his high trade value this year. He stated that it was all down to learning his new offense and that this year he will be in a better position to prove his worth. He knows there will be no excuses this time, and if he doesn't deliver then he may be considered a bust.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pagano looked to his roots with the Ravens and installed a similar 3-4 scheme in Indianapolis. This scheme looks to add hybrid elements based on situation, as is the league-wide trend at the moment. The defense is widely viewed as the reason why this team can't make it deeper into the playoffs. Their 2013 performance in the playoffs saw them concede 77 points in 2 games, which is going to get you nowhere. An expected improvement on the defensive line will help here, but the Colts also lost experienced safety Antoine Bethea to the 49ers and more recently lost talisman Robert Mathis to a 4 game suspension for drug infringements. Matching up against the Redskins offense will hopefully be a challenge for this unit.
In terms of the playing staff changes, the Colts drafted pretty well, with SB Nation giving them a B-.
JACK MEWHORT (OT, OHIO STATE, 2ND ROUND, 59TH OVERALL)
DONTE MONCRIEF (WR, MISSISSIPPI, 3RD ROUND, 90TH OVERALL)
JONATHAN NEWSOME (DE, BALL STATE, 5TH ROUND, 166TH OVERALL)
ANDREW JACKSON (LB, WESTERN KENTUCKY, 6TH ROUND, 203RD OVERALL)
ULRICK JOHN (OT, GEORGIA STATE, 7TH ROUND, 232ND OVERALL)
The Colts got a nasty, physical offensive lineman with their first pick in Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort. Mewhort is versatile enough to play any position for the Colts and should fit their smash-mouth, pulling/trapping run scheme well. He displays the temperament that you like to see at the position and will compete from day one, likely on the interior. As Mike Mayock pointed out on Draft day, some believe his best eventual position is center, where the Colts have a need. In the third, Indy got good value when they selected WR Donte Moncrief out of Ole Miss. Moncrief is a physical wonder that projects as an eventual No. 1 X-receiver with a little time to develop.
Free agency went pretty well too, with the focus being on re-signing many of the core players, particularly on special teams. For a full list of offseason movements and a deeper analysis of the team please click here:
All in all the Colts kind of remind me of the Redskins, with key positions filled on the offense especially at QB, a shaky offensive line and a leaky defense. The main differences between the two teams is that the Redskins have a running game and the Colts have had stability since Luck entered the league. This has all the makings of a shoot-out, and the Redskins need their offense to be on form to keep the score out of reach from the Colts if they want to win. I think the media will get their wish and both QB's will be able to showcase their talents in a high scoring game. If either of the teams have a defense that shows up then they should go on to win.
Andrew Luck QB
Third year in the NFL and more growth expected from the former number 1 pick in the 2012 draft. Expectations are high, but Luck is a master of dealing with pressure even at his young age. Comebacks are becoming his signature move, so the game isn't over until the final whistle.
Vontae Davis CB
One of the only decent players in the Colts secondary and the Colts paid to keep him in a blue shirt this year. Entering his prime years so the Colts will expect a lot from him in 2014. Consistency is his biggest issue, but he will need to keep playing well to help out this fragile defense.
Robert Mathis LB
Coming back from his 4 game suspension could mean that Mathis is fresher than most players by week 13. Mathis recorded 19.5 sacks last year and topped the league with 8 forced fumbles.
T.Y. Hilton WR
With Reggie Wayne fading through age and injury, the onus is on T.Y. Hilton to step up and become what some Colts fans think he could be, a true number one receiver. He flashed at times last year, but needs to show it more consistently in 2014.
One to Watch
Dwayne Allen - TE
Colts fans are excited to see Allen back on the field after a stellar rookie season in 2012 was followed up with a disappointing injury that kept him out of 15 games in 2013. When healthy he is a top tight end in both the blocking and receiving skill sets. He is the cornerstone of this offensive scheme and could be a major weapon.
If you know of any other key players please mention them in the comments section.
Keys to the game
- Can the Redskins pass rush get to Luck? That offensive line is not the best in the league by any stretch of the imagination. One thing to pay attention to is Luck's ability to use his legs. He is good at getting yards if given the space to run.
- What is the Colts' running game like?
- Can our secondary match up with Wayne, Allen and Hilton? The Colts have a very short passing game, so tight coverage and disrupting their timing will be important.
- The Redskins need to score on this potentially poor defense and give themselves a buffer for any Luck-esque comebacks.
So that is the Colts and week 13. Next week we wrap up our look at our 2014 opponents with an analysis of the Rams so we can see how the RGIII trade worked out for them and what to expect from our matchup.