Colts

Fleener excelling as Luck’s safety net

The Indianapolis Colts drafted Coby Fleener, at least in part, due to his connection to Andrew Luck. And so far, the strategy has worked. Fleener has developed into Luck’s safety net – when all else fails, Luck checks down to Fleener.

According to Pro Football Focus, Luck has attempted 33 passes between 0 and 9 yards down the field. Of those 33, eight have been targeted at Fleener and seven were caught.

This is exactly what the Colts had in mind when drafting Fleener. He hasn’t been a serious threat in the passing game, but he’s done just enough to make sure Luck’s comfortable. Even if Fleener doesn’t develop into an elite tight end, he has already serving his purpose in Indy.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Luck relies heavily on Fleener in debut

The Indianapolis Colts spent their first two picks in the draft on college teammates in hopes that it would ease their transition to the NFL. And so far, it seems to have worked. Andrew Luck was shaky in his debut, but he definitely looked comfortable working with Coby Fleener.

While Reggie Wayne was understandably Luck’s go-to receiver, he also targeted Fleener 10 times on Sunday. The two connected on six of those plays for 82 yards.

There’s obviously still a lot of work to be done in Indy, but it’s encouraging to see Luck and Fleener developing a connection early in their NFL careers.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Colts fans, keep your expectations under control

Andrew Luck was impressive in his preseason debut, there’s no denying that. But Indianapolis Colts fans may be taking their praise a little too far.

According to Derek Schultz, who hosts a radio show on WNDE in Indy, callers have talking about a potential trip to the playoffs in 2012, or even a Super Bowl run.

Needless to say, this is absurd. While rookie quarterbacks have taken teams to the playoffs in recent years, they’ve always been along for the ride more so than driving the truck. The Colts, however, are only going as far as Luck takes them – in 2012 and beyond. No matter how great Luck looks in preseason action, he will make mistakes in the regular season and he will cost them some games.

Not that this argument really needs to supported by any evidence, but just in case you’re among those taking Luck’s preseason debut a little too seriously, here’s all you need to know. The first line of an AP article on August 10, 1998 read: “Ryan Leaf didnt look at all like a rattled rookie in his NFL debut. At times, Peyton Manning sure did.”

I rest my case.

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts Leave a comment

Draft Grades: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts clinched a solid grade from this draft class the minute the regular season ended. But new GM Ryan Grigson took their development to a new level with a strong draft class which should allow this team to emerge as contenders again in the not-so-distant future.

Obviously the addition of Andrew Luck was franchise-changing move. He’ll step into a starting role from day one, and should be the face of this franchise for the next 10 years and beyond. He won’t right the ship in one season, but he has all the tools necessary to make this team a Super Bowl contender again within the next three to five seasons.

I’m not as high on Coby Fleener as most, but this was a no-brainer for the Colts. Every young quarterback needs a go-to receiver, and who better to play that role for Luck than his college teammate and close friend?

Some have criticized the Colts for drafting two tight ends, but Fleener and Dwayne Allen are very different and both should play significant roles. Fleener is really more of an oversized receiver, while Allen is more of a traditional tight end. The Colts offense will likely feature sets with Fleener lined up in the slot and Allen on the line.

T.Y. Hilton is an explosive deep threat and should also contribute on special teams. He’s not a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, but he’ll be a weapon that opposing defenses need to account for at all times.

Josh Chapman is a prototypical nose tackle. As with most 320-pounders, stamina is an issue, but he should see the field for 20-25 snaps per game even if he doesn’t win a starting job as a rookie.

Vick Ballard will likely fight with Deji Karim for the third-string running back job. His upside is limited due to a lack of explosiveness, but he could be an effective short-yardage back.

LaVon Brazill is an intriguing developmental prospect. Don’t expect to see much of him early in his career, but the Colts could keep him around as a 5th receiver and develop him for the future.

Justin Anderson is a physical lineman who could provide depth at guard and right tackle. And if he impresses early, he could push Joe Reitz for playing time.

Tim Fugger played defensive end at Vanderbilt and should be a nice fit in the Colts new hybrid defense. He has the athleticism to play both end and linebacker depending on the defensive set.

Chandler Harnish, Mr. Irrelevant, will compete with Trevor Vittatoe for the third-string quarterback job.

The Colts left a lot of holes unfilled, mainly on the defensive side of the football, but I love the fact that they surrounded Luck with a ton of talent. Too many teams address their need for a quarterback and only halfheartedly fill the holes around him. The Colts are clearly making sure that Luck is given every opportunity to succeed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment