The Colts who had a top 15 defense is most categories last year doubled down on that side of the ball this offseason. Their top trade target cost them fan favorite Nyheim Hines and a draft pick, but the organization feels Chandler Jones was worth that and more. Adding to an already solid front seven, Jones gives them another weapon to deploy. He will team up on the line with Justin Houston and Deforest Buckner to form one of the best pass rushing lines in the nfl. When asked what his role would be, the coaching staff stated “ He will be attacking the quarterback on every down”. Jones who once challenged the single season sack record has his eyes on different hardware this late in his career. He felt the organization had a win now type of team that he could help put over the edge. The Colts were also aggressive in free agency to bring in strong safety Jarquiski Tartt formally of the San Fransisco 49ers. The strong safety position was the weak point of the defense all year long. Veteran Xavier Rhodes who was penalized often last year for being out of position will now switch back to his normal duties as a corner back specifically in the slot. Tartt and Malik Hooker will now form a dynamic safety duo. Tartt can play in coverage and in the run game. Look for him to be a playmaker all over the field. The early reports out of preseason are trending favorably for Tartt as he has 3 interceptions in limited snaps in 3 games.
On the offensive side of the ball the Colts bring back every starter from last year besides Phillip rivers who retired this offseason. Quarterback play last year is what limited this team, the two Qb season of Veteran Rivers and rookie Jacob Eason was not enough to get the Colts into the playoffs. Insert Jameis Winston. There were some rumors of the team giving Eason another shot at starting this year, but when Winston became available as a free agent that idea went out the window. Winston who has been heavily scrutinized throughout his career for various off field mistakes and on field mistakes ( leading the league in interceptions) should bring a veteran presence to help run this offense. With MVP Jonathan Taylor looking to pickup where he left off last year, the Colts don’t need Winston to throw for 50 touchdowns. Jameis can make all the throws the team needs him too, and has some mobility for play action roll outs and avoiding pass rushers. He can extend plays with his feet while keeping his head up looking downfield for receivers. He has shown great rapport with Parris Campbell and Trey burton this offseason. Often showing up before the rest of his teammates Winston is on a mission this year to prove his doubters wrong. He threw for over 5,000 yards just two seasons ago, it was a turnover prone campaign which ultimately cost him his job. If the Colts want to get into the playoffs this year Jameis will need to do better at limiting turnovers. Jameis who has a few suitors chose Indy as they have what is believed to be the best run game and offensive line in the league currently. Pair that up with veteran Ty Hilton and speedster Campbell and this offense can be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
In the draft the Colts moved out of the first round and still got their target in round two. Right tackle Jalen Mayfield. Some were surprised as the Colts already have a dominant line, but they went best player available according to their board. Drafted out of Michigan to be the heir apparent at tackle for aging Anthony Castonzo, the rookie is playing himself into starting conversation with his play at right guard this pre season. Last years right guard Mark Glowinski hasn’t don’t anything to lose the job, Mayfield is just playing that well currently. His play gives them flexibility this year as contracts come up for both Castonzo and Glowinski.
With these additions the Colts look to make the playoffs for the first time since Andrew Luck led them in 2018. Fans have to be excited with these moves as the Colts fell just one game shy of the playoffs last year. Espn has the Colts projected to be a top 8 defense this year with these additions. If the defense lives up to that hype, and Jameis can limit the turnovers look for Indy to take the next steps into the playoffs this year.