Fireside Chats with Colts Authority

Every week (give or take) during the off-season, we'll be posing one question to our writing staff to ponder. For our first installment of this fireside chat, we'll tackle the following:

"Do you feel better about the Colts now than you did 12 months ago?"

Feel free to chime in with your take in the comments, and, if there's a burning question you'd like for us to answer, post it here or tweet at one of us and we'll tackle it for you!

Nate Dunlevy

In short, I have all the same questions. I don't think 2013 answered any questions except, "Was Andrew Luck for real?". I think we all pretty much knew the answer to that one anyway.
Maybe you can add Hilton's play in there as an answered question too.

Still, we don't know who the next WR will be. The defense showed moderate improvement. There are still philosophical issues with the coaching. There are lots of big draft needs and few picks to work with.

All in all, my real confidence for the future was always Andrew Luck. That remains unchanged. So I'd say I feel the same. I expect a 10-11 win team and a shot at a playoff run. I feel better about how bad the AFC is, so I like their chances better, even as I feel the same about the squad.

Marco Gutiérrez

Not really. I don't feel bad about them either. They won a playoff game after all.

12 months ago, we all saw Ryan Grigson doing a lot of things right. This year though, he wasn't brilliant in the draft or free agency and then of course the Trent Richardson trade.

With all the needs the team has, not having a first round pick is so frustrating. Having just four picks doesn't help either. That makes you wonder if Grigson will try to be aggressive in free agency again. Needless to say, he wasn't amazing in FA in 2013.

Still, having Andrew Luck is reason enough to be optimistic. Guys like T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener improved, and the return of Dwayne Allen and Donald Thomas are reasons to feel a bit better so we'll see how things work out with those guys involved. Maybe even Richardson starts contributing! (heh).

Being in the AFC South definitely helps but who knows what will happen after the draft.

Kyle Rodriguez

I’m a little bit in Nate’s boat, I think. I don’t feel better about the Colts than I did a year ago, but I don’t feel worse either. The development of some of the young players and the continued excellence of a few veterans is extremely encouraging, but the actions taken last offseason were harmful to sustaining excellence over a long period of time, IMO.

However, this offseason is going to have a huge effect on that sustained excellence, and could rectify some of the earlier mistakes. Similarly, I’m interested to see how Pep Hamilton structures the offense going forward after a year under his belt. So, I’m certainly willing to be patient with them.

In short, I wasn’t more encouraged by 2013 (outside of, as Nate said, Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and a few other bright spots), but I certainly can’t say I feel worse about them. I still think they have a bright future to be one of the AFC’s contending teams for years to come, I just don’t know that we’ll see another run of dominance like we did in the Manning era.

Marcus Dugan

My answer is contingent on the upcoming offseason.  Twelve months ago, the Colts’ future looked very bright following an equally memorable and improbable 11-5 season and the flood of promising rookies that helped make it happen.

In many ways, their future really was bright: 11 more wins against a tougher schedule, a division championship, a playoff victory, a franchise record low 14 regular season turnovers, and the continued development of that 2012 draft class.

However, this past offseason was, well, different.  There were draft picks that couldn’t stay on the roster, an otherwise promising first rounder who’s really more of a project, and a slew of free agents with baggage (mostly injury-related) who lacked the free-agent-with-baggage discount.

Then, there was The Trade.  Even if you feel great about giving up a first round pick for a running back – even if you’re confident that Trent Richardson is destined for an amazing and productive 2014 (Please, Trent, be destined for an amazing and productive 2014. Yours Truly, Colts Fans), paying such a lofty price for a player who wasn’t able to contribute at a high level right away is unsettling.

All that aside, there are still some 2013 draftees and FAs who could prove to be long-term contributors, and if Ryan Grigson can find a little of his 2012 magic with the team’s remaining draft picks, retain some key guys, and nab a couple promising free agents, I’ll give a resounding “Yes, I feel better about the Colts than I did 12 months ago.”

Currently, I have about the same outlook as last year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but ask me again in the spring.  Things could be looking up by then, more so than now.

Lou Pin

Not entirely, but certainly a lot.

Luck was awesome. We got more turnovers, actually blew out teams, limited mistakes, and developed a solid 1-2 receiver set. The offensive line was way, way better than in 2012 (Castonzo and Cherilus stand out), despite all the criticism they get – and unlike last year, they look like they're moving in the right direction.

The biggest issues last year (to me) were the kicking game, the ability for the defense to make big plays, and whether Freeney's probable departure would hurt. Now, the position most worrisome to me is … running back, where we have Vick Ballard and Trent Richardson. Half the league would kill for that 'problem' (two second-year running backs with major potential).

Last year, everyone thought the Colts were majorly overrated. Very few people are echoing that sentiment any more.


Greg Cowan

It's impossible to argue that the Colts haven't improved in almost every area. Their stats – both advanced and conventional – have improved, they found a way to put together some dominating wins, and they have a ridiculously young core that has shown improvement on a week-to-week basis.

All that said, I don't feel good about the team: holes everywhere (OL, WR, RB(??), DL, LB, and in the secondary), no first round pick and few draft picks total, and last year's FA spending spree didn't convince me that Grigson was the GM who could buck the "FA is a bad way to build your team" trends.

Finally, I like some of the pieces in place (Luck, Hilton, Castonzo, Fleener, Allen, Cherilus, Freeman, Davis) but the organization's guiding principles and philosophies scare the heck out of me (from a fan perspective).

If you're building your team based on your philosophies, and the Colts' philosophy is to run the ball and stop the run, I believe they are doomed to flawed roster building.

Finally, they are going to let superior players – Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown and perhaps Pat McAfee – walk to make room for inferior players.

The good news is, Andrew Luck is one of the 10-best QBs in the NFL and the AFC South is one of the top-1 worst divisions in all of sports, so we've got that going for us, which is nice. But unless the Colts have a tremendous run of luck (health, match-ups, etc…) I don't fancy them as true Title Contenders next year or the year after.