Hello, Colts fans. What a glorious night. The NFL has released its 2017 regular season schedule, and the Pacers are currently putting a beating on the Cavs in their playoff game. The schedule release is like an early Christmas present; a reminder that training camp is just 3 short months away, and that the real action will be here before we know it.
Drum roll, please….
Based on 2016 results, it’s been reported the Colts have the weakest schedule in the NFL. While factually correct, this is misleading due to the scheduling formula the league uses. Teams ultimately only have (some) control over two of their opponents. This season the rotation means the Colts face the NFC West and AFC North, while the two “wildcard” games are against Buffalo and Denver.
The team will play three prime time games this season: At Seattle (Sunday), at Tennessee (Monday), and home against Denver (Thursday). This continues a trend dating back to the Peyton Manning era where the league tends to schedule the Colts on the road for most prime time games.
At first glance, easily the toughest game is the Week 4 visit to Seattle. If we assume the Seahawks will be who they have been recently, facing a tough defense in a very loud stadium with the ever present possibility of rain will not be easy for the Colts. After opening games with the Rams, Cardinals, and Browns, this will be a litmus test for how good the 2017 Colts are.
Another tough one will be Pittsburgh at home in Week 10. I don’t think I need to explain why. It pains me to think that, were it not for some terrible play calls inside the 5 and a couple of crucial drops, the Colts would’ve beaten the Steelers without Andrew Luck. Please note: Ryan Grigson was not calling the plays that night, if you get what I’m saying.
The end of the schedule is interesting as well: At Buffalo, home against Denver, at Baltimore, and home against Houston. Again, at first glance this looks tough. The Bills look like an unknown since they’ve brought in a new coach, but they beat the Colts rather easily in Buffalo during 2015, and this year’s December game has the potential to bring blizzard-like conditions. The Colts and Broncos always seem to play tight games, Baltimore is strong, and Houston has beaten the Colts three straight. If the early test is against Seattle, this last stretch will truly show how good the Colts are.
The team signed two free agents today, ILB Jon Bostic and TE Mo Alie-Cox. Bostic, 6’1″ and 242 pounds, is now with his third team since being picked in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft by Chicago. It’s this Chicago connection that probably spurred his signing, as Chris Ballard was working for the Bears when Bostic was drafted. After a decent start, his career has stalled, mostly due to injury. He hasn’t played a full season since 2013, and missed all of 2016. As with nearly all of the free agent signings the Colts have made this off season, this move is about adding depth and…wait for it…creating competition. Who knows, if the guy can stay healthy they could end up with a steal here. We’ll see.
The Alie-Cox signing is intriguing, as he’s one of the latest to attempt to make it in the NFL after playing college basketball. I think it works to his advantage knowing the team has already went through this experience with Erik Swoope. Alie-Cox, a load at 6’6″ and 260 pounds, is also different from most of the guys who’ve tried this move because he was actually a good college basketball player. Assuming he shows anything at all during training camp, expect the team to go the Swoope route again and attempt to stash him on the practice squad.
With the signing of Alie-Cox, the team’s TE depth chart now looks like this: 1) Jack Doyle 2) Erik Swoope 3) Brandon Williams 4) Alie-Cox. Notice anything about them? That’s right, all four went undrafted. Interesting.
The draft is one week from tonight. Chris Ballard gave a really great press conference this week where he spoke about the processes they’ve been going through in player evaluation. Some of it was pretty eye opening. Colts Authority will be putting together a draft roundtable article soon, so stay tuned for our thoughts on Ballard and where the team might go with the draft. It should be good.
It’s now Friday morning, and guess what? The Pacers pulled an Atlanta and blew a 28-3 lead. Unbelievable, inexcusable, historically embarrassing loss.
See you soon, Colts fans.