It's too early for '09 season previews, and too late for '08 season reviews. What's an NFL blog to do in the never-ending quest to overcover the bejeezus out of the NFL? Offseason progress reports. Let's go in alphabetical order. Today, the Indianapolis Colts.
Drafted: RB Donald Brown(notes), DT Fili Moala(notes), CB Jerraud Powers(notes), WR Austin Collie(notes), DT Terrance Taylor(notes), QB Curtis Painter(notes), P Pat McAfee(notes), OT Jaimie Thomas(notes)
In some ways, the '09 Colts will feel a lot like every other version of the Colts for the last decade or so. As long as Peyton Manning(notes) is there, he will rightfully be the team's identity, and the vertical passing game will still be the team's bread-and-butter.
In other ways, though, things will be totally different, because two giant pillars of Coltdom will be gone. Marvin Harrison won't be there, and neither will longtime offensive coordinator Tom Moore (unless it's as a consultant, and if that's the case, who knows what his role will be ... ask Peyton Manning).
You can point to both of them and list a ton of ways in which they won't be missed, you can talk about how the Colts were prepared for their departures and insist that the organization won't miss a beat, but how realistic is that? Moore had been the offensive coordinator since 1998. Marvin Harrison, even though his production had dipped dramatically, had been a staple of the Colts offense for 13 years. I don't know if it's reasonable to expect to lose two mainstays like them and not have to go through a period of adjustment.
I trust Peyton Manning, though, and I believe that as long as a team has Peyton Manning, that team has a good offense. Reggie Wayne(notes), Dallas Clark(notes) and Anthony Gonzalez(notes) are all still dangerous weapons. Last year's abysmal running game should be better with a healthier Joseph Addai(notes), but that's no lock. Neither he nor Dominic Rhodes could average better than three-and-a-half yards per carry last year. We'll see what Donald Brown adds.
We haven't even mentioned the departure of Tony Dungy yet, and that might be the biggest one. Maybe we won't see huge changes in terms of schemes and game plans, but Dungy's one of the best to ever stalk a sideline. Even if Jim Caldwell is great, the Colts could still be losing something in the head coaching department from last year to this year.
Progress: You never know how a rookie head coach will perform, and it's really hard to say what kind of an impact the losses of Tom Moore and Howard Mudd will have. It's difficult to project much about the Colts other than to say that they'll still be in the realm of teams that could be considered "good," since Peyton Manning is still around. It wouldn't surprise me if they were at the bottom of the "good" category, or at the very top of it. The coaching question marks makes them seem more vulnerable than they have in a while, though.
Minus two games. 12-4 last year, 10-6 this year.