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Nate Dunlevy answers Total Titans’ questions about the Colts

To learn more about the Colts, I'm delighted to bring back Nate Dunlevy. My first Q&A with Nate posted four years ago (today!). Since then, Nate has moved from his own site 18 to 88 to bigger and better things as Lead Writer for Bleacher Report at their AFC South blog. He's also written two books, including Blue Blood, a history of the Colts in Indianapolis, and Invincible, Indiana, a novel of Indiana high school basketball, while also still being part of the cast of writers at Colts Authority. You also can (and should) follow him on Twitter.

If you want to read my answers to his questions, check those out over at Colts Authority. Otherwise, on with the show.

Total Titans: Where does Andrew Luck stand six games into his rookie season? Is he as awesome as sliced bread, air conditioning on a hot summer day, high-speed internet, or all of the above?

Nate Dunlevy: Well, it depends on how you would rate league-average play from a rookie running a vertical offense that features very little talent (see question two). 

On a flat scale, Luck's play has been, well, average. He's missed some throws and had some spectacular moments. 
On a curve of what you'd expect from him given the situation, it's hard not to get a little giddy. You can see it all there. All the tools are on display. I watched it happen with Manning once already, so I know the signs. He's going to be a monster. Six games into his career, he's basically average. Sixty games in, he'll be an MVP.

Total Titans: Reggie Wayne is still chugging along, but who else do the Colts have to catch passes besides, seriously, Donnie Avery? There has to be at least one tight end who will burn a Titans team that has given up at least 60 yards receiving, a touchdown, or both to every starting tight end they've faced this year.

Dunlevy: There is no one else. Wayne is incredible, but Avery is a black hole of suck. Both tight ends (Allen and Fleener) are very talented, and you can see what the Colts are building offensively, but there are still adjustments. Yes, either one could have a huge, break-out game at any moment, but that game hasn't happened yet.

The other wideouts are all young, mid-round players. There is talent there, but it takes time to work itself out. 

Total Titans: Last year, the Colts defensively went from incredibly terrible early in the season to merely not that good. How have they fared so far this year, and how is the transition to a 3-4 going, especially since Chuck Pagano's leukemia diagnosis (terrible news, hope his recovery is as good as the news indicates)?

Dunlevy: The transition has been rocky largely because injuries have crippled the defense again (as they have every year since 2007). Freeney and Mathis have rarely played together. The defense is actually worse than it was in 2011. 

Now, a lot of players are starting to get healthy, and if they could become a bottom-10 instead of bottom-5 D, there might be some hope. For now, it's enough to know they've forced THREE turnovers in six games. What's that tell you? 

Total Titans: The Titans' most efficient receiving targets have been tight ends Jared Cook and Craig Stevens. How have opposing tight ends done against the Colts this year?

Dunlevy: Pretty average. I admit, my gut said nothing about tight end play, so I cheated and looked up the DVOA on it, and sure enough, Indy is 18th against TEs with 4 attempts a game for about 22 yards. That jives with my instinct. Indy's corners have been so bad, most teams don't bother going to the tight end. 

Total Titans: The Colts are 3-3 are being really bad last year. What are expectations in Indianapolis for the rest of this season in a tightly-packed AFC, and what should they be?

Dunlevy: Expectations are that the team will beat every bad team on the schedule and win 8-9 games.

Expectations should be that the team IS a bad team, and may not win almost any of those games and will finish more like 5-11 or 6-10. 

Total Titans: Is there anything you'd like Titans fans to know about the Colts that I haven't asked you?

Dunlevy: The Colts right now are driven entirely by Luck and Wayne. Outside of those two, there's precious little going on with the roster. If you shut down Reggie Wayne, the Colts' offense just dies.

Total Titans: Finally, if you'd like to make a score prediction, please feel free.

Dunlevy: Titans 38 – Colts 21.

Thanks to Nate for some great questions. Don't forget to check out Colts Authority for my answers and lots of great Colts coverage, plus Nate's work covering the AFC South at Bleacher Report (yes, I know, it's B/R, but he's one of the people they've hired who does excellent work).