Following the release of the 2020 NFL schedule, fans are clamoring for the start of football season. Must-see matchups, a homecoming for star players, and rookie showdowns are on the docket after the NFL upped the anticipation for sports a bit more.
With that said, Indianapolis Colts fans are more than excited for this new season to start. With new quarterback to lead the offense, explosive rookies on both ends of the field, and the same excitement for football, Lucas Oil Stadium is ready for some gridiron.
Here are three storylines that Colts fans should keep a keen eye on in the upcoming NFL season.
This offseason, general manager Chris Ballard was desperate for a quarterback. While Jacoby Brissett had a good start to the 2019 season, he quickly fell off after his 326-yard, four-touchdown game against the Houston Texans.
Ballard and his staff turned to free agent Philip Rivers.
Rivers is coming off one of the most disappointing years of his career, mainly due to the fact that the Los Angeles Chargers failed to surround him with talent. He threw 20 interceptions while only having a passer rating of 88.5. While those aren’t bad numbers per se, it certainly is bad for someone as talented as Rivers who many consider one of the greatest of all time.
The pairing between the Colts and Rivers is certainly beneficial for both. Last year, the team threw 194.2 yards per game, which is dead last in the entire NFL. There are different ways to spin this stat: on one side of the fanbase, many believe it was because they ran the ball through running back Marlon Mack. Meanwhile, the other side of fans blame it on Jacoby Brissett and his lack of arm strength. Comparing the two quarterbacks, it is easy to see why. Brissett threw 2,942 yards compared to Rivers’s 4,615.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Rivers’s future in Indianapolis. Can he still play at a high level at age 38? Will he be in Indy for more than a year?
However, one thing is certain: Rivers will be an upgrade over Brissett.
Fans are optimistic about the teams’ incoming rookies. When on a Zoom call with his staff ahead of the NFL Draft, Ballard asked, “Who adds a more explosive element to our offense: [Jonathan] Taylor or [Michael] Pittman?” While they were looking at these two offensive weapons at No. 34 overall, they managed to snag both in the second round.
Michael Pittman Jr. is an explosive wide receiver coming out of USC. Head coach Frank Reich said, “I’m not sure this guy is not the best receiver in the draft. I mean, that’s how strongly I felt.”
Pairing with T.Y. Hilton, Pittman is expected to be the second wide receiver for the Colts. With a quarterback like Rivers, Pittman might have a shot at the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Jonathan Taylor, on the other hand, is an equally explosive running back out of Wisconsin. Ballard said it felt “too good to be true” when he saw Taylor fall into their laps at No. 40. To put into perspective just how dominant Taylor was in college, he logged 6,174 rushing yard in three years as a member of the Badgers. Taylor is expected to learn behind one of the best running backs in the game in Marlon Mack.
Finishing their 2019 season with a 7-9 record was a disappointment. Starting off with five wins and only two losses, Colts fans were ready to declare Brissett as the heir to Andrew Luck. However, an injury to Brissett halted the team as they went on to win only two games before finishing the season.
This year, however, the team saw upgrades in positions of need. In addition to Rivers and Pittman, team went out of their way to trade for an All-Pro defensive tackle in DeForest Buckner. The former San Francisco 49er is expected to bolster the Colts’ defensive line, which is a valuable addition considering the AFC South is composed of good to great quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, Gardner Minshew of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans.
A fresh new crew with the same old attitude. This iteration of the Colts is one of the more promising lines in years. The AFC South looks relatively weaker now that DeAndre Hopkins is gone. Plus, while the other quarterbacks are good, they have fewer years of experience combined (12) compared to Rivers (16).