Indianapolis Colts 2021 Season Preview: Will Frank Reich the Carson Wentz ship?

The Indianapolis Colts are a huge unknown heading into their 2021 season preview. Their season comes down to the success of Carson Wentz.

The season preview for the 2021 Indianapolis Colts is one of the toughest to project. Their roster is filled with talent both offensively and defensively. However, their new quarterback is coming off one of the worst seasons in the NFL. Philip Rivers wasn’t even in the upper half last year, but he was far better than Carson Wentz.

Indianapolis Colts 2021 season preview

The Colts catch a lucky draw and only have to play the fifteenth-easiest schedule. Yet, they will play five teams projected to win 10+ games. They play the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Because of their division, they get four games against teams projected to win fewer than seven games. They get one more when they face the New York Jets.

Offseason additions and losses

For having a well-rounded roster already, the Colts certainly didn’t sit on their hands during the 2021 offseason. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo retired, and they needed to replace him. Thus, Indy went out and signed Eric Fisher. Overall, the Colts did a good job minimizing their losses.

Obviously, the big-ticket item was Wentz. Rivers retired, opening a hole at quarterback. Wentz has his issues both mentally and physically, but there are high hopes the high variance quarterback can get his groove back. The trade involved a 2022 conditional second-round pick that could turn into a first and a 2021 third.

Indianapolis wasn’t done on the offensive line. They signed veteran tackle Sam Tevi, which adds depth to a team that was lacking that. They kept going in that direction with the addition of former Miami Dolphins tackle Julie’n Davenport.

The Colts lost Denico Autry in free agency, along with quarterback Jacoby Brissett and safety Tavon Wilson. And, to the dismay of draft Twitter far and wide, Malik Hooker is still a free agent. Furthermore, retaining Xavier Rhodes, Marlon Mack, and T.Y. Hilton were necessary “additions.”

Colts bolster defensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft

The Colts needed help rushing the passer in the NFL Draft. Nearly every mock draft around for months had a defensive end heading to Indy. Then, when the time came, and they were on the clock, the Colts validated their perceived needs to the masses. They did not take just one. No, they doubled down on edge with their first two picks.

Michigan’s Kwity Paye is a stacked-together rusher with unreal lateral agility and power. His lack of length might be an issue for him as he learns the position’s finer points, but all the tools are there. Then, they went with the human Coke can, Dayo Odeyingbo.

He makes up for all of Paye’s lack of length. Heck, he could even spare some for the Michigan rusher. Odeyingbo has an awkward build, and it’s even weirder to watch him be an athletic freak on tape. Nevertheless, Chris Ballard and the Colts might have a type — big athletes on the edge. Unfortunately, an Achilles injury might redshirt him for Year 1.

Indianapolis didn’t pick again until Round 4 when they took Kylen Granson, whom they’ll look to turn into their new Dallas Clark. Granson is a hybrid tight end that works better in space than in line. Then, they went with athleticism again defensively with Shawn Davis. The Florida safety is stocky in build, and his strapped-together frame is explosive.

The Sam Ehlinger pick was interesting, given some of his likenesses to Wentz. Ehlinger likes to hold onto and deliver the ball at the last second. He’s an aggressive passer with a thick frame and athleticism to create outside of structure (when he can deliver accurately on the hoof). Wide receiver Mike Strachan and interior offensive lineman Will Fries round out the Colts’ draft class.

Where do Indianapolis players rank in PFN’s Top 100?

Which Colts’ players rank in the PFN Top 100, and where do they fall?

59) Darius Leonard

Leonard is an absolute menace in multiple facets of the game. His ball production in coverage has been insane throughout his young career. His most productive year was as a rookie, but he’s settled in nicely and shown slight improvements in seasons after that. Behind Buckner and guys like Antwaun Woods and Grover Stewart, Leonard should often have a decently clear path to the ball carrier in 2021.

19) DeForest Buckner

Speaking of Buckner, he’s one of the most impressive defensive players in the NFL. His length is an absolute problem. He possesses violence in his hands that allows him to disintegrate blocks. His length and strength overwhelm blockers often, and he has the explosiveness to rip around the shoulders of blockers. He could be the best defensive tackle in the NFL, except Aaron Donald exists.

13) Quenton Nelson

For his bullying physicality meshed with outstanding technical proficiency, Nelson is the darling of football fans everywhere. He’s not as clean a technician as Zack Martin, but he outdoes Martin’s natural physical ability. Nelson is the more impressive run blocker due to his ability to absolutely punish defenders downfield. He’s also one of the more fun blockers in space, given his footwork for his size.

Colts 2021 prediction

Frank Reich, Ballard, and Co. make one of the best front offices in the NFL. The Colts’ season preview is optimistic because Reich has one of the most well-coached teams in the league. The big success in Wentz’s career came in 2017. Reich will need to bring out that magical third-down performance consistently if Wentz is to be successful in the long term.

Marcus Brady was elevated in 2021 to be the Colts offensive coordinator after the departure of Nick Sirianni. He previously spent three seasons as a quarterbacks coach.

Matt Eberflus is one of the hottest names in football. Since becoming a defensive coordinator, his defenses have been good. With another solid season, he could get his chance to be a head coach in 2022.

Offense

The Colts’ offense is a bit of a mystery heading into this season because of their questions at quarterback and their new play-caller. However, they’ve been consistently able to get good results offensively despite lacking high-end weapons or quarterback play in the past.

Indianapolis lost their starting quarterback to begin the year. Wentz is on the mend after he opted for surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot that was causing pain. He’s projected to miss 5-12 weeks, which would be a massive loss for the Colts as they attempt to tread water until his return.

Defense

The Colts keep getting better defensively. They have big-time playmakers at all three levels of the defense and a good defensive play-caller to get them in the right looks. They were top-10 in efficiency last season, and with a mid-tier schedule, they should find similar results in 2021.

2021 Colts record prediction

The Colts’ schedule to start the season isn’t a cakewalk, but the back-end preview of their season might allow them to get a nice run of success in before the playoffs begin. With the added game in 2021, this looks like a 10 or 11-win team. However, if Wentz remains bad, this team could just as easily win seven games and be looking for a new QB heading into 2022.

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