FOA 2010 is new. The Colts are not.

Every year, the Football Outsiders publish their guide to the new season.  The Football Outsiders 2010 Almanac went on sale yesterday, and is the second most important book that a Colts fan can buy this summer.  Every serious football fan ought to give it a look.  All week, I’ll be reviewing the book to share some of the great insights they have into the Colts.

If there is one word the Outsiders would use to describe the 2010 Colts it would be “consistency”.  Quite frankly, they expect the 2010 Colts to look pretty much like every other Colts team we’ve seen for the past 5-8 years.  FOA 2010 projects the Colts as an 11.3 win team.  Top teams always project with slightly fewer wins than they actually get because most statistical models tend to pull teams back toward the ‘mean’. This is actually a fantastic projection for the Colts who typically come out slightly lower by FO numbers.  They give the Colts a 91% chance of winning at least 9 games, and a 66% chance of being a playoff contender with at least 11 wins.  They foresee the Colts as dominating the AFC South. I’ll cover what they think of our rivals next week, but let’s just say that the numbers ‘hate’ the other three teams.

The Almanac is more than just number crunching, however.  It is also a great compendium of scouting insight about all 32 NFL teams. For instance, for all the talk about how much more the 2009 Colts blitzed, they still only brought five rushers 19.9% of the time (good for 25th in the NFL) and they rushed 6 or more just 4% of the time (31st). Both of those are higher than in 2008, when the Colts blitzed a league low 9.9% of the time.  So they blitzed about twice as often, but still ranked among the least blitzing teams in the NFL.

They also detected an anomaly in the run game that I think we all noticed:

The runners got little help from their blockers, or from a philosophy that didn’t seem to mesh with last year’s personnel. The Colts were actually very effective when running between the guards, but struggled when running off either tackle or to the outside. Because of their reliance on the stretch play to set up play-action, however, they ran up the middle less often than any team except Detroit. That’s somewhat normal for the Colts. While they ran up the gut a little less than the average team in 2008, they were much closer to the bottom in 2007.

The Colts couldn’t run outside at all in 2009.  The tackle play just wasn’t up to it.

Monday, I’ll take a look at what the Outsiders say about the offense.  On Tuesday, we’ll look at the defense.  On Wednesday, specific players.  On Thursday, we’ll look at the rest of the AFC South.  Finally, we’ll look at what they say about local colleges a week from today.  It’s FOA week…one of the best weeks of the year!  Seriously go buy this book.  Actually, buy mine first.  Then go buy this one.

In summary, the Almanac foresees more of the same for the Colts:

You may have noticed that this chapter focuses almost entirely on the 2009 Colts, while most of the team chapters in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 are focused on where teams are going in 2010. That’s because the 2010 Colts are the 2009 Colts. And the 2008 Colts, and the 2007 Colts, and the 2006 Colts. They have the same philosophy on both sides of the ball and another easy schedule, with none of their division rivals projected over 7.0 mean wins. Once again, there will be a lot of 31-24 wins, a division title, and a game full of backups in Week 17. The Colts will be good enough to win the Super Bowl if they play well, but not so good that they can afford to make mistakes in the playoffs. As long as Peyton Manning is under center and somebody named Polian is running the front office, there’s no reason to expect any change — or any losing seasons.

I’ll take it.

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