You really can't blame a team for being lost and disorganized when their franchise quarterback suddenly retires at age 29, only weeks away from the start on the NFL season.
Andrew Luck did just that to the Indianapolis Colts in 2019, leaving them hanging and without a real long-term plan. Luckily, the team already had a decent quarterback in Jacoby Brissett already on the roster, but it still left them reeling.
This offseason they made a move to temporarily replace Luck by adding Philip Rivers, a 38-year-old quarterback whose entire career had been played with the Chargers thus far. Rivers has a ton of experience, has played in huge games, and beaten some NFL legends head to head.
Rivers was also absolutely terrible in 2019,and may not even be an NFL caliber player anymore.
The NFL season is almost upon us! Over the next few weeks I will be previewing each of the 32 NFL teams, and ranking them 1-32 as to how likely I believe they are to win Super Bowl LV. This week we continue the list with teams on the fringe of the playoff conversation.
26. Detroit Lions
25. Las Vegas Raiders
24. New York Giants
23. Miami Dolphins
22. Atlanta Falcons
21. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts only missed the playoffs four times between 1995 to 2014. In the five years since 2014, they have missed the playoffs four times. Two decades of Jim Harbaugh and Peyton Manning at quarterback made Indianapolis an elite NFL franchise and a team who had a spot in the playoffs pre-booked every season. Now they are going through one of the most unstable points in their team history since moving from Baltimore to Indiana.
Luck was the quarterback who took the mantle post-Manning, and he was certainly a man worthy of leading this franchise. Injuries just kept him off of the field, though.
This is where Rivers comes in. He is next in line after Luck, though he obviously is not a long-term option under center. Rivers is around to be a bridge man, a player that can keep the franchise relevant for a few years as they search for the next player to take the mantle.
Unfortunately, Rivers may not be a player worthy of leading the franchise, even temporarily. Last year, he threw 20 interceptions alongside his 23 touchdowns. He often failed to look even competent at some points last season. It is hard to see how the Colts become contenders with Rivers at quarterback in 2020.
Indianapolis actually has a decent roster beyond Rivers, though. Guard Quenton Nelson anchors a good offensive line. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor joins an already talented running back room that includes Marlon Mack. Throw in an elite receiver in T.Y. Hilton and a developing speedster like Parris Campbell, and you have a good offense here. They just need someone to reliably get them the ball, and it does not appear that Rivers is that guy.
Defense is a little different, though. The Colts made a huge move this offseason, trading for former San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, then inked him to a huge deal worth $84 million over four years. Darius Leonard, the middle linebacker who took the league by storm back in 2018, features behind him. There seems to be a lack of talent elsewhere, though.
Malik Hooker is a great safety that has shown a lot of potential throughout his young career, but injuries have hampered him, and he has not quite lived up to the huge expectations he had on him after taking off in his rookie season. The cornerback tandem of Kenny Moore and newly-signed Xavier Rhodes may excite some due to the name recognition, but neither player is as good as their billing.
Indianapolis is a team with potential to have a great offense and a middling defense. That would usually be enough to compete for a division title, but without a quarterback capable of leading the offense, this team is unlikely to go anywhere this year. The backups—Brisset and rookie Jacob Eason—do not inspire much confidence either.
This team feels like it is going to be wasted potential.