ESPN recently released a piece ranking every NFL team’s roster from best to worst, and the Indianapolis Colts were located at the bottom of this list.
The Colts were ranked 28th out of the 32 NFL teams, which may surprise some people. These rankings were put together by Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson. Only the Los Angeles Rams, the Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers received a lower ranking than the Colts.
To create their rankings, Pro Football Focus averaged together its data from the past two seasons, but gave more weight to the 2015 season. After averaging the numbers, it took in-depth looks at each team’s roster and rewarded teams with fewer concerns at key positions (like quarterback).
Here is what Pro Football Focus’ Monson wrote about the Colts in this ESPN Insider piece.
"Top five players: CB Vontae Davis, WR T.Y. Hilton, OG Jack Mewhort, OT Anthony Castonzo, OLB Trent ColeStarters who should be upgraded: LB Erik Walden, OG Hugh Thornton, LB D’Qwell Jackson, DT David ParryThe strategy of Andrew Luck carrying a lackluster roster came off the rails in a major way in 2015. The team’s free-agency strategy of collecting aging former studs also failed to pay dividends, with only running back Frank Gore providing much value. There were a few bright spots, however. Rookie Henry Anderson was having an excellent season before injury ended it prematurely, and players such as Hilton, Davis and Castonzo are still quality starters. They just need a little more help."
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Monson’s explanation for the Colts’ ranking has plenty of flaws. First of all, where is Andrew Luck in the Colts’ “top five players” list. Luck absolutely had a terrible 2015 season, which Pro Football Focus heavily emphasized, but it is ridiculous to suggest he is not one of the Colts’ top five players no matter what any metric says.
Meanwhile, Trent Cole made the Colts’ “top five players” list. How is he on this list over Luck? He had as equally bad of a season as Luck. For most of 2015, Cole was nonexistent, and he only recorded 32 combined tackles and three sacks.
Aside from these two glaring errors, the analysis of the Colts’ roster was correct. The Colts need to find upgrades for Thornton, Walden and eventually Jackson. Pro Football Focus should hold off on replacing Parry though. Parry played when as a rookie in 2015. However, the site has a lot of different metrics that could show the Colts need to replace him.
It interesting to think the Indianapolis Colts had the 13th best roster in last year’s rankings, and it just took an 8-8 season for them to drop 15 spots in this year’s rankings. While this huge fall feels like an overreaction, it is actually justified.
Remember, Luck masked a lot of the Colts’ weaknesses prior to 2015. His success with the team since 2012 covered up its numerous roster flaws. So, when Luck struggled and missed games in 2015, their weaknesses were exposed.
As a result, people realized the Indianapolis Colts had a “lackluster” roster and recognized the team’s success was completely dependent on Luck’s success. Pro Football Focus’ low 2016 ranking for the Colts recognizes this fact.
The reality for the Indianapolis Colts is they have a top-tier NFL quarterback, but a bottom-level roster overall. It will take some time for the Colts to improve the quality of their entire roster. Unfortunately, they cannot take too long because Luck, who turns 27 in September, will hit his athletic prime very soon.