INDIANAPOLIS – Ultimately, a 9-8 season for the Colts was good for the middle of the pack in the AFC.
The Colts finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs in the 5th year of Chris Ballard at general manager and 4th year of Frank Reich at head coach.
Here are some final grades for the Colts after the 2021 season:
Pass Offense: D+
Evaluation: When we first evaluate the passing offense, we have to note that efficiency is the focus here, and not raw production. In the area of making the most of the passing game opportunities, the Colts were below average. And that’s especially the case when you factor in the attention towards Jonathan Taylor and the run game. The Colts finished last year 17th in yards per attempt and 24th in completion percentage. A low turnover rate is the main reason why this grade isn’t lower. Issues with quarterback play and pass catching personnel hurt this aspect to the game.
Rush Offense: A
Evaluation: What a year it was for Jonathan Taylor and the Colts run game. They finished the season 2nd in rushing yards per game (149.4) and 2nd in rushing yards per carry (5.09). Taylor crushed the rest of the field in winning the league’s rushing title. The Colts biggest roster building strength turned into one of the league’s most consistent and big play units. Taylor is a star and, for the most part, the Colts treated him as such in the commitment department.
Pass Defense: D
Evaluation: One consistent issue in the Matt Eberflus era has been the pass defense. While the 2021 approach did involve some more man coverage late in the season, the pressure against opposing quarterbacks was non-existent. The Colts ranked 26th in sacks per pass attempt and had an even worse pressure rate. While the takeaways were at a very high number, the Colts often failed to get off the field in critical situations. Situational football was not a strength of the Colts defense.
Rush Defense: C
Evaluation: This normal constant for the Colts was not there in 2022. The Colts finished the season ranked 20th in yards per carry allowed, which was a big step back from the typical top-10 ranking under Eberflus. It was surprising to see the run defense have some leakage, especially with Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner in the lineup.
Special Teams: A-
Evaluation: When you have the year that the Colts punt coverage/block team had, it’s a strong year for the special teams unit. The return game, mainly in the punt area, wasn’t as potent as you’d like. But the rest of the special teams area was pretty steady. Anytime you change kickers mid-season, it’s an uneasy move. However, Michael Badgley helped calm most of the kicking questions.
Overall Grade: D+
Evaluation: While Vegas had the win total right around 9 for the Colts entering this season, this was a disappointing year. The Colts had the 9th easiest schedule in the NFL (6th easiest in the AFC) and couldn’t take advantage of the 5 combined games against the Texans, Jaguars and Jets. Finishing in the dead middle of the AFC (8th place) is falling short of expectations, especially when you consider the contract extensions handed out by Jim Irsay to Chris Ballard and Frank Reich back in training camp. What adds to the grade falling to a D+ comes with the unanswered question on Carson Wentz remaining and the loss of a first-round pick not resulting into a playoff appearance.
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