Indianapolis Colts July Scouting Report
Hello Colts’ fans! Here is the latest from the Colts’ Corral, although like every other NFL team the action and items of interest have been few and far between during this pandemic-altered offseason. With the minimal data and activities that have occurred, I will focus at the outset on some key interviews that the coaching staff has given in recent weeks to see how they plan on working with this revamped roster, especially the offensive side of the ball.
OC Nick Siriani is particularly excited about having QB Philip Rivers here under center this season. They worked together briefly in San Diego when HC Frank Reich was also there, and he is thrilled to have someone of his NFL savvy to work with. And while most teams with new quarterbacks and offensive skill pieces might struggle to be in synch with the abbreviated offseason, there is a contentment that Rivers’ familiarity with this system will minimize that – at least as compared to guys like perhaps a Tom Brady working in a totally new system. I suspect that early in the season, opposing defenses will remain in "prove it to me" mode with him and his new receivers, so he might have a chance for some early-season success (especially with regards to throwing TD passes) just like QB Jacoby Brissett did last season. Siriani also is really excited about the unique skill set that rookie WR Michael Pittman will bring to the receiving table – some size and skill that was lacking in the rag tag crew they cobbled together last season. From a fantasy perspective, the potential downer is that he seems real intent on using RB Marlon Mack and RB Jonathan Taylor as a 1-2 punch this season, which probably limits the individual fantasy upside of both players even in a run-heavy offensive scheme. And with all the new personnel, he really feels that this will be a top 10 offense for both the run and the pass – making for some good overall fantasy production but possibly not a lot of starting value with so many mouths to feed.
DC Matt Eberflus also got some big name help with former All-Pros in CB Xavier Rhodes and DT DeForest Buckner. He particularly pointed out the motor (and skill) on Buckner, and likened the motor on reserve DL Sheldon Day to it as well. He almost seemed more excited about Day and slot/reserve CB TJ Carrie as well, as depth and versatility were also sorely lacking last year when injuries hit. As far as the four rookies that were drafted on that side of the ball, he noted the upside of S Julian Blackmon, but did temper it with the statement that he is still not back 100% from his injury and it might be August or even September before he is back and able to contribute. While he did not say much about scheme or personnel differences specifically, Eberflus did comment on the hustle and aggressiveness that the defense will play with. Looking at the ball-hawking and playmaking athletes that were added to this young core, in addition to the light schedule (especially early), I can see this defensive unit being a solid fantasy force and definitely a great streaming option as a fantasy unit.
As far as the roster goes, the final two draft choices (Blackmon and Pittman) for the Colts signed right as I made my report last month so everyone has been officially in the fold for a month now. One important fantasy roster item -- with the signing of a rookie free agent kicker of note (PK Rodrigo Blankenship) as well as a 2-year deal by incumbent PK Chase McLaughlin, it is likely that the venerable PK Adam Vinatieri would not be back as I speculated last week. For whatever this news is worth….this week he placed his mansion in the Indianapolis suburbs up for sale. With him still rehabbing his 2019 injury, the odds of him playing anywhere are low (especially in Indianapolis). But the kicker in this offense should still be a viable fantasy starter that can be had cheap in drafts or auctions. There are a lot of key starters in a contract year in 2020 also, so there should be a lot of guys playing for a big payday in 2020. I will review these later in the preseason as we look for guys that might play above our expectations when motivated by the almighty dollar….
But no matter who is on the field for the Colts, the downside is that the noisy Lucas Oil Stadium advantage will be greatly reduced with the advent of pandemic-related seating limitations. It is not yet clear what the maximum capacity will be for home games but it is certain to be far less raucous than it has been in recent years. With a few tough matchups at home, this "neutralization" of home field could tip the scales from a likely win to a possible loss. We will see how this plays out as the season gets closer and the reduced preseason schedule starts to demonstrate the reality of the situation.
That is all from this month from the Crossroads of America. I will be back next month to talk about the happenings as camp actually gets underway, and perhaps we angle towards the inception of some preseason games even! Camp opens for rookies this coming Wednesday the 22nd, and then the rest of the team on the 28th. Until then friends…..GO COLTS!!!
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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