Colts Power Rankings: 2011, Week 1

Each week, Coltzilla will scour the net for team rankings from football experts covering the previous week, and discuss them from the fan’s perspective.

With the Colts facing the 2011 season without their MVP quarterback at the helm and last Sunday’s abysmal performance in Houston, fan expectations are low. What about the experts? Were they kind? Let’s see what they have to say now that Week 1 is in the books.

Average Ranking: 24.5 (previously 11.13) – A drop of eleven spots, and no one should be surprised after an extremely poor performance against Houston in all three phases. Welcome to the bottom of the NFL pile, folks.

CBS Sports – Pete Prisco – 22nd (-10): The head of the snake is gone. The snake is dead. The Colts are playing for next season. – [Good ol Pete… always supportive of the Colts. Riiiight… This team will rebound, Mr. Prisco. Any funeral plans you have are premature. Sorry to ruin your fun, but they have lots to play for this year.]

ESPN – Kuharsky – 23th (-14): Now in unfamiliar underdog role with Peyton Manning out and a bad opening loss. (Kuharsky) – [Unfamiliar is right… underdog, playing from behind, not having their miracle worker to erase deficits in the closing minutes… it’s all very unfamiliar. Coach says it’s all fixable. God I hope so.]

Fox Sports – 16th (-3): The Colts were offended by all the commentary about how they are a one-man team, but now they should be offended by the product they put on the field. The Colts still have talent, but they need to use it much differently from years past. – [They do have talent, there’s no question about that. Can they adapt? That’s what we’re waiting to see. This week’s match up with the lowly Browns will reveal much about how completely the offense can gel with Kerry Collins.]

WEEI in Boston – 25th (-16): Without Peyton Manning, the Colts weaknesses were exposed. One example is Indy’s run game, it has been awful over the past few seasons but the four-time NFL MVP found ways to win anyway. The Colts are a four-win team with Peyton out of the lineup. – [If they play like they did against Houston, I don’t think four wins is even possible. Personally, I think they do turn it around… the OLine begins to gel, Kerry has more time to find open receivers, his timing with those receivers improves, the defense stops some third down runs, and special teams… ah, well… special teams. Let’s take this one step at a time, shall we?]

Pro Football Talk – 29th (-11): Andrew Luck would be the perfect quarterback for a team with a horseshoe on the side of its helmet. – [Another bold statement that the Colts’ season is all but over. It might not be pretty, but don’t expect another hideous performance like the one they gave against Houston. This team will win some games.]

Sports Illustrated – Don Banks – 22nd (-12): No matter what folks in Indy might claim, it seems the entire Colts organization is still in shock and going through the early stages of severe Manning withdrawal. As bleak as things look on offense, the first order of business in this week’s home opener against Cleveland should be to get more aggressive on defense and try to create some momentum on that side of the ball. But that’s where the Cover-2 scheme, which is designed more to play with the lead, works against Indy as well. – [Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see the defense having to recreate itself or modify its approach that much. Yes, they need to improve gap discipline and tackling (where have we heard that before?), but once Kerry and the offense starts putting points on the board (and I believe they will), the defense will have that lead they’re used to protecting. Can all that happen by this Sunday? It’s a lot to ask, but this is the Browns we’re talking about.]

Walter Football – 30th (-21): This Colts team reminds me of the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were a perennial playoff team for years, but David Robinson, one of the greatest centers in NBA history, who like Peyton Manning, was on the down side of his career, was lost for most of that season. With the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, San Antonio selected Tim Duncan. With Robinson and Duncan, San Antonio won the championship a couple of years later. Assuming the Colts will keep Manning, it’s time to start wondering who his “Tim Duncan” will be. Perhaps Matt Kalil? Kalil is a blue-chip left tackle prospect, and his presence would grant Manning the blind-side protection he’s been yearning for years. With Kalil on the team, Anthony Castonzo would move over to play right tackle. If Castonzo and guard Ben Ijalana progress, the Colts could have a really good offensive line by 2013. – [Someone doesn’t think Ijalana can play OT at the NFL level. I really hope they’re wrong. As Peyton moves into his final 5 years, protecting him will become even more important.]

Yahoo Sports – 29th (-14): If you play like a team that has packed it in on a NFL Sunday, this is what happens. – [Packed it in? Were they watching the same team we were? This wasn’t about effort, it was about execution and timing… OK, lack of them, in this case. But I don’t think we can blame the week one loss on lack of effort.]