Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
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Anderson is a player without much national recognition, but he’s arguably the biggest key to elevating the Colts’ defense from the basement it has been dwelling in for most of the Chuck Pagano era.
Indy’s defensive line and its inability to stop the run has been at the center of the unit’s struggles. In 2015, Anderson showed potentially exceptional run-defense skills as a rookie, ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ second-best defensive end in run-stop percentage. However, he had his campaign cut short by an ACL tear. He never looked the same last season, as he continued to work back to full health, and the Colts suffered because of it.
Now lined up next to space-eating nose tackle Johnathan Hankins, Anderson should be given more license to make plays in the backfield. If he can develop as a pass-rusher, the Colts could have the star defensive lineman they’ve been crying out for since Andrew Luck was drafted.
Last year was meant to be Moncrief’s breakout season, finally providing Luck with a legitimate second top receiver to go along with T.Y. Hilton.
Instead, Moncrief missed seven games with injuries and didn’t look anywhere near as explosive or polished as most expected him to be. The former third-round pick’s 2016 campaign was saved by his seven touchdowns, a highly impressive number considering the number of snaps he was able to play. Though, his lack of development did hinder the Colts’ passing game.
It could be a make-or-break campaign for Moncrief, and if the Colts are to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014, they need the 23-year-old to step up in a big way. If it clicks for Moncrief, few will be able to stop Indy’s aerial attack.
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Few quarterbacks in the league are burdened with as much responsibility for their team’s success as Luck, who bounced back from an injury-ravaged 2015 season to put up a Pro Bowl year in 2016.
New Colts general manager Chris Ballard’s first offseason has been a good one. Indy’s roster, while far from ready to compete for a Super Bowl, is headed in the right direction thanks to savvy free-agent additions and a good-looking draft. Still, for 2017 at least, the Colts will only go as far as Luck can take them.
A surgery on his throwing shoulder has complicated Luck’s offseason, though the Colts are hopeful he’ll be ready for camp. If Luck truly wasn’t 100 percent healthy last campaign and the procedure fixes the shoulder issue that has lingered since 2015, Colts fans should be excited to witness what new heights the quarterback can reach in 2017.
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Texans’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Jaguars’ season
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