The Indianapolis Colts have had a rough season thus far, but it is that time of year again where we give thanks for the things in our lives. These are three things for the Colts to be thankful for in a season with bright spots few and far between.
The Emergence of Rashaan Melvin
Coming into the season, the Colts’ number one corner was Vontae Davis. The defense, as a whole, was questionable at best, considering they only had one returning starter from last season, which was Davis. Prior to Davis being cut, he had already been surpassed on the Colts depth chart by fifth year player Melvin. He currently ranks as the number 15 overall corner per Pro Football Focus. Included in the ten players immediately following him are Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. All three of these players are consistently included among the best in the league at this position, and Melvin is having a better season than all three of them. If he continues at this level, the Colts just need a good corner across the field from him. He’s on a very affordable contract that, if he plays this well next season, will surely earn him a raise.
Frank Gore’s career has been a long and consistent one, but he’s beginning to wind down. He’s also a free agent at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Mack has shown the ability to excel in the passing game, as well as, the edge rushing game. Mack grades out at 33 and Gore and 30, which shows there isn’t a significant drop-off between the two of them. As Mack gains more experience, he would also improve, which shows that the future of the running back position is in good hands with Mack. As recently discussed, the Colts have an abundance of wealth heading into free agency. With players such as Le’Veon Bell, Carlos Hyde and Isaiah Crowell on the market, the Colts can let other teams spend money on these players, while they focus on more pressing needs and allow Mack to develop.
Pat McAfee was regarded as a consensus top five punter in the NFL, before knee injuries forced him into an early retirement following last season. Punter is a position that is viewed as rather unimportant, because they aren’t on the field as often, but a great punter can flip the momentum just as fast as any big-name receiver. Pinning an offense deep requires them to drive further down the field and reduce the chance for them to score points. This is especially important, when your defense isn’t the greatest, as is the case with the Colts. Sanchez has stepped in and has crushed it in McAfee’s stead. He currently ranks number two in net yards per punt and tied for 8th in punts inside the 20. A punter isn’t the most important player on a football team, but their importance cannot be overstated, which is why the brilliance of Sanchez has been so great.
Some teams have had more bright spots than the Colts have this season and these aren’t all of them, but they are ones very important to the future. Corner is one the most important positions in today’s pass happy NFL. Running back is in a state of flux as Gore presumably heads off into the twilight of his career, and a punter can flip field position with one swing of his leg. These and the fact that the season is almost over are what the Colts have to be thankful for.
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