When the 2009 season ended an era ended in Indianapolis. After 12 years serving as the offensive line coach for the Colts, having developed some of the best offensive lines in the NFL during his tenure, Howard Mudd retired. Replacing him is Pete Metzalaars, former NFL tight end who played for 16 years and whose 235 games is the most for any tight end in NFL history.
Any time a new coach takes over, change is inevitable. It is possible that one of the changes Metzalaars will make is beefing up a notoriously small offensive line, which is known for excellent pass protection but poor run blocking. In that effort he will likely take a fresh look at all of the offensive linemen on the Colts roster and choose the five players he thinks are best suited to fill in as starters.
This season, for the first time since Ryan Diem took over as the starting right tackle for the Colts in 2003, Metzalaars will have to legitimately decide whether Diem should retain his job.
Adam Terry, former right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, was added to the roster and at 6-foot 8-inches tall and 330 pounds he is definitely a larger option who blocked for the fourth ranked rushing offense in the NFL in 2008. With the Colts focusing on improving the team’s running game, Terry may be given his chance.
For Colts fans or Adam Terry to come to Indianapolis with the expectation that he will be as successful as a pass-blocker as Ryan Diem is unrealistic. Terry was a part of the best pass-protecting offensive line in Ravens history in 2008 when the line allowed 33 sacks. Terry was responsible for four of those sacks. Last year the Colts allowed 14 and Ryan Diem was responsible for only 1.5 sacks in 2008.
However, to expect that Terry could be serviceable as a pass blocker and significant upgrade in the ground game is very realistic.
In 2008 the Ravens ran off of Terry 69 times, which was the fifth most a team ran off of right tackle in the NFL and Ravens’ running backs averaged 4.23 yards a carry. Running off of right end the Ravens averaged 7.21 yards a carry, good for best in the league. By comparison, in 2009 Colts running backs averaged 3.54 yards off of right tackle and four yards off of right end respectively, good for only 24th and 25th in the league.
If Terry can show that he has healed from his knee-injury, and if the Colts coaching staff and Pete Metzalaars can improve his ability to pass-protect, he could actually be an overall better option at right tackle. Either way, it can be assumed that the big man offers a drastic improvement as a run blocker over Diem on his first day.
Still, Diem has been a long-time starter, and solid pass-protector. Unfortunately, he has also shown some signs of showing his age, with mental errors, false starts, and a noticeably poorer performance in his past years. Terry is three years younger, and heading into his sixth NFL season while Diem is entering his tenth.
Even if Terry does not supplant Diem as starter, he will be considered at right guard, where he played most in his first four seasons in the NFL. Having both Diem and Terry on the roster this year provides a great deal of experience at both positions, as Diem also played two seasons at right guard before moving outside. The competition, Terry’s return to full health, and the options it gives the Colts will be an interesting development this off-season.