When the Indianapolis Colts entered their free-agency period, they had a bank roll to spend, and spend they did. Priority was to get a replacement for the failed project of Trent Richardson, and the departure of Reggie Wayne. They didn’t waste any time and brought in veteran’s Frank Gore (SFO) and Andre Johnson (HOU). They also had a duty in taking care of a defense that has been used and abused for the last several years, and the acquisitions of Kendall Langford (STL), Trent Cole (PHI), Nate Irving (DEN), and Dwight Lowery (ATL) did just that. They also added depth to their offensive line with Todd Herremans (PHI) who will be their opening day starter, and brought in Vincent Brown (OAK) to give that receiving corps extra boost. Let’s take a look at these free agent pick-ups in more detail.
In Frank Gore the Colts now will have a running back that can blow up the defensive line. He stands at 5’9” and weighs 217 pounds, which is eight pounds lighter than Richardson. He has rushed for 1,100+ yards in the last four seasons, and if it wasn’t for an injury in 2010, he would have had done it nine years straight. Look for him to be the first and second down back, which allows him to get some rest, while bringing in players such as Dan “Boom” Herron to come in on third down. While running backs Vick Ballard, Zurlon Tipton and perhaps Ahmad Bradshaw will help the rotation. Indianapolis received no respect for their running game, and why would they? Would you be intimidated by a running back named Zurlon? Now they have the “Tank” and look for the tank to take out a bunch of defenders on his way for a touchdown. I project another 1,200 yard season and eight touchdowns.
When the Colts decided to part ways with Reggie Wayne, they needed a wide receiver that had veteran presence. A good thing that Andre Johnson became available. In Johnson they have an upgrade over Wayne, who was obviously looking as though his career was coming to an end. Andre Johnson is close comparison to Reggie Wayne, catch a lot of passes, and just don’t look for him near the goal line. Johnson has only 64 touchdowns in 12 years, putting up an average of 5.3 a season. In the receiving department he has averaged 84.3 receptions for 1,133 yards each year. In 14 seasons, Reggie Wayne has averaged 76 receptions for 1024 yards and 5.8 touchdowns per season. The way it appears now, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief will man the wings, while T.Y. Hilton will fill the slot role. I expect another AJ type of season, 80 receptions for 1,100 yards and five touchdowns.
The Colts also brought in Vincent Brown, who has been on the Chargers and Raiders roster. Brown has great talent, just hasn’t found a way to stay healthy. He came into the league in 2011, but has only managed to play 30 games in four seasons. He has caught 60 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns in his career. Brown won’t offer much more than a fourth to a fifth wide receiver, but he does have the talent to climb higher. Indianapolis also picked up Cris Carter’s son, Duron Carter. Just like Brown, I don’t see him doing more than a typical four to five receiver. As it stands now:
1) T.Y. Hilton
2) Andre Johnson
3) Donte Moncrief
4) Vincent Brown
5) Duron Carter
The skill positions also didn’t get the only push, so did the offensive line. When the Philadelphia Eagles released Tom Herremans, the Colts were all over it. Herremans will most likely fill in right guard. Herremans when healthy is a top flight guard. He has played in 127 of 160 games possible. At the very least he will add depth at the position. He will give much needed blocking protection to Andrew Luck.
Colts spent the biggest chunk of money on improving their defense. They went out and filled several holes. They signed defensive tackle Kendall Langford, outside linebacker Trent Cole, inside linebacker Nate Irving, and safety and Dwight Lowery. They also resigned safeties Colt Andersen and surprising performer Mike Adams.
Kendall Langford will help bolster their defense line. Chuck Pagano said about Langford “I think right now you’ve got to look at him coming in and kind of filling that void where we lost C-Redd,” Pagano said of Langford. “He’s got position flexibility. He’s a big, long, athletic type guy who’s obviously very, very durable. You get a guy I think in base defense that can line up as your 5-technique (defender lines up on a tackle’s outside shoulder) and give you good football at that position. In sub, he’s a big guy that you can sit in the middle as a defensive tackle, and he can play the run as well on first and second [down] on run situations and then give you some pass rush inside.”
With Trent Cole, he is an aging linebacker, he turns 33 in October, but has been one of the better pass rushers for the last decade, and fits very well in the 3-4 system. He has 85.5 sacks in 155 career games, and with Robert Mathis coming off an ACL tear, he will be a welcomed site. Speaking of ACL tears, Nate Irving is also returning from his injury. It occurred much later than Mathis’ as it occurred in week eight of the 2014 season. Before the injury, he impressed the Colts, when they met on week one, especially in the run stoppage department. Both Irving and Cole will be a benefit there. Nate Irving finished with 46 tackles and one sack. Look for both D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman to man the position until Irving can return. These three will most likely rotate depending on the situation, as Freeman is the far better cover linebacker, while Irving is the far better run stopper. Jackson gives good balance and leadership.
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