The 2017 NFL season is just around the corner, and NFL teams across the country are heading to training camp to prepare for the upcoming campaign. Among them are the Indianapolis Colts, who finished 2016 with a 8-8 record, took third place in the AFC South, and missed the playoffs.
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As the Colts look ahead to the upcoming year, here are some of the biggest questions facing the squad this offseason.
Can Andrew Luck stay on his feet?
Last year Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times, tied with Andy Dalton for the most behind only Tyrod Taylor (42). Dalton played 16 games, Luck and Taylor each played 15 games.
If the Colts want to be successful, they need to do a better job of keeping Luck off of the ground. The sacks are not entirely on the offensive line, and not entirely on Luck, but they're a problem.
The offensive line needs to do a better job of slowing the pass rush and Luck needs to do a better job getting rid of the ball. If one or both of those things happens, the offense should be much more productive this fall.
What does Frank Gore have left in the tank?
Last season Frank Gore put together his ninth 1,000-yard season in his 13-year career. He's been a remarkably consistent running back since he came into the league in 2005.
Does the 34-year-old have anything left to give? The track record for 30-year-old running backs isn't great, but so far Gore has defied the odds to remain productive.
The Colts can hedge their bets by giving carries to guys like Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and rookie Marlon Mack, but they'll likely go into the season riding Gore until (if) he slows.
Will the young receivers take a step forward?
Outside of T.Y. Hilton's league-leading 1,448 yards last season, no Colts wide receiver topped 550 yards. Phillip Dorsett totaled 33 receptions for 528 yards, and Donte Moncrief added 30 catches for 307 yards. Chester Rogers was next with just 19 catches for 273 yards.
Granted, the Colts throw to tight ends and running backs a fair amount, but with a quarterback who has the skills of Andrew Luck, you'd expect a better showing from the receivers.
Dorsett and Moncrief missed a combined 8 games last year, and having both healthy and productive would go a long way in 2017.
Did the Colts do enough to help the defense?
Indianapolis gave up 364.4 yards per game (10th worst) and 25.7 points per game (8th worst) last season, and made some moves in the offseason to try to fight that.
Indianapolis spent their first three draft picks on Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson and Ohio outside linebacker Tarell Basham. The Colts also signed former Texans linebacker John Simon and former Giants nose tackle Johnathan Hankins.
They'll need all of those players to find their new role quickly if they want to improve their defensive performance this fall.