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Offensive Burning Questions heading into January

Posted Dec 31, 2013

Intro: With the Colts closing out the regular season at 11-5, here is a look at some burning questions at the offensive position groups. Check back to Colts.com tomorrow for some questions on the defense/special teams.



INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts head into the playoffs fresh off some of their best offensive performances since Reggie Wayne was lost for the season.

Despite a patched up offensive line, the Colts have become much more consistent in getting off to better starts.

Here’s a look at some burning questions at each offensive positional group going into the playoffs…

Has Andrew Luck improved from 2012-2013?

Put simply: Yes.

Taking into consideration the losses that Luck has dealt with on offense, it’s pretty remarkable the numbers he achieved in 2013 with the most important number being 11 wins for a second straight year.

Before the year started, we said it would be difficult for Luck to equal the yardage of last year (4,374) but his completion percentage would rise and interceptions would decrease.

At the end of 2013, Luck is a 60.2 percent passer (up from 54.1 percent in 2012) and he threw nine fewer interceptions in 2013 while still tossing 23 touchdowns.

Luck has thrown for 3,822 yards in 2013 and that comes in 57 fewer attempts than he threw last season.

He’s doing it to numerous targets who haven’t even been on the Colts active roster for the entire season.

For the Colts to make some noise in January, it will have to rely on the arm (and legs) of Luck, who has admitted that he’s playing his best football of 2013.

Can Donald Brown and Trent Richardson produce in January?


Donald Brown started the season as the team’s punt protector and third on the Colts running back depth chart.

As the calendar turns to January, Brown is coming off a season in which he averaged 5.3 yards per carry, the highest mark for a Colts running back since 1961.

Trent Richardson has had his best moments in a Colts uniform over the last month and has a history of performing very well in big time games.

Chuck Pagano said the Colts have seen some crowded defensive boxes the past few weeks which has allowed for more success in the passing game.

Any run in the playoffs would inevitably take the Colts to hostile environments so the ability to rely on the ground game that Colts fans saw in San Francisco and Tennessee would be massive.

Will the young Colts wide receivers continue to establish themselves?

Perhaps no Colts position has seen as much turnover in reps this year than the receiver position.

The one constant has been T.Y. Hilton who, after seeing his production dwindle in recent weeks, heads into the postseason off a career-high 11 catches and 155 receiving yards.

In the last month, the Colts have seen breakout games from Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen.

The hurry-up tempo has been very effective in the last few weeks and Pagano credits the young receivers for much of that success.

What these Colts receivers lack in experience (seven NFL seasons combined among the four) they’ve collectively made enough plays to give this offense some momentum heading into January.

Will Coby Fleener’s production get back to what we saw in November?

The emergence of the Colts receivers has seen many more three-receiver sets which has limited the targets for the tight end position.

Coby Fleener was a major target in November but has caught just three passes over the last three weeks.

We did see the Colts try and stretch the field with Fleener on several occasions this past weekend and even split him out for a fade pattern inside the five-yard line.

It should be noted that a total of 11 different Colts caught a pass on Sunday so don’t think for a second Luck won’t target Weslye Saunders, Jack Doyle or fullback Stanley Havili if need be.

Can the offensive line continue their fine play with different line combinations?


Credit offensive line coach Joe Gilbert for piecing together a different unit eight different times this season.

Luck calls Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo the pillars up front and they have certainly been that in 2013.

The interior has seen over a handful of different combinations this year but it appears Pagano will have six healthy bodies to choose from across the three starting spots for this weekend.

In his last 152 pass attempts, Luck has been sacked just three times (a sack on 1.9 percent of pass attempts). The Broncos led the league in that stat with sacks on just 2.96 percent of pass attempts.

How the Colts line up on Sunday and play against arguably the best pass rushing edge duo in the league in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali will go a long way in deciding who survives the Wild Card Round.


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