WESLEY BRYANT | SPORTS COLUMNIST
The NFL season has come to an end following the Patriots win in Super Bowl XLIX. I guess justice doesn’t prevail. The “deflate-gate” scandal was wrong, but to say that it changed the outcome of the AFC championship game is an overstatement. The harsh reality is that the Colts were outmatched.
Colts tight end Dwayne Allen said, “They could have played with soap for balls and beat us. Simply the better team. We have to continue to build.”
Allen is right. All we can do is move on and look forward to a bright future. The Colts are bound to make the playoffs every year because of Andrew Luck and a weak strength of schedule in the AFC South.
However, some adjustments need to be made in the offseason in order to beat the elite teams in the playoffs and advance to Super Bowl 50 next year.
The offseason is going to be a nail biter. The Colts have 17 free agents as they enter the offseason, including Reggie Wayne, Ahmad Bradshaw and many others.
There are going to be some hard decisions to make, but in all honesty, losing those key players to free agency wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing. We all can admit Wayne is a future Hall of Famer and highly respected in the Hoosier state, but the fact of the matter is that his ability has decreased significantly and he should be let go. It is a good year to have wide receiver issues. There are plenty of options to sign at the WR position this offseason: Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles), Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville Jaguars), and others.
The Colts just signed Duron Carter, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter. He is a 6-foot-5 receiver in the Canadian Football League.
Another position that could be a big focus is the running back. With Trent Richardson gone and Bradshaw being prone to injury, it is a must to shop for the position. There aren’t many options for free agent RB’s this year and Bradshaw’s health history is scary. Don’t be surprised if they let him go and look elsewhere. Frank Gore is a noticeable name among free agent running backs. Adding a legitimate runner of his caliber is the biggest offensive need.
Furthermore, the Colts scheme against the run wasn’t successful and left some frustration when it ended their season. I want to forget what LeGarrette Blount did, but I can’t. Luckily there are some helpful players in this year’s draft and free agency. Suitable picks would be Benardrick McKinney, Denzel Perryman or Eric Kendricks. If the Colts go in a different direction and sign proven free agents, I would recommend David Harris (New York Jets) or Brandon Spikes (Buffalo Bills). The Colts should go after an inside linebacker and to stop running backs who make it past the defensive line.
Lastly, one more need is offensive linemen. Over the past two seasons, no quarterback has been hit more times without being sacked than Andrew Luck. My heart literally stops when he’s hit as I wait for him to get back up. Another suitable set of picks to accommodate his safety would be Cedric Ogbuehi or La’el Collins. Reasonable deals that can be made in free agency are Mike Iupati (San Francisco 49ers) or Eugene Monroe (Baltimore Ravens). Luck should be the number one priority and the Colts should make some moves to protect his longevity.
To sum it up, the top needs from least to greatest are WR, RB, ILB and the OL position. The Colts have some money to spend this offseason and can focus on free agency or the draft to address those needs. Colts fans don’t need to worry, we will be back on top. An added bonus is the return of Pro Bowler Robert Mathis, which will really help the pass rush.
Congratulations to the Patriots for winning this year, but watch out next season, because the Colts are on the rise and, with a little bit of “luck,” will take home the Vince Lombardi trophy.