Good news for the Colts came earlier today as Rams’ superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald ended his holdout. This means that he will play in the this season, but not in the opener. Donald is the best interior lineman in the NFL, and a serious argument can be made that he is the best defensive player in the NFL.
Donald has 28 sacks in his first three seasons in the NFL, along with a rookie of the year award and two All Pro selections. He is the leader of the Rams’ defense, which ranked 9th in the NFL last season in opponent total yards. Donald was ranked the second best player in the NFL last season slightly behind Tom Brady according to PFF. The Rams’ defense is loaded with talent, including players such as Trumaine Johnson, Maurice Alexander, and Alec Ogletree. Even without Donald, the Rams defense is incredibly stout
Now, the million dollar question, will the Colts offense do anything at all tomorrow? My answer? Well, probably not much. But, the lack of Donald gives Indianapolis a significant boost.
The Colts’ first and foremost are without superstar quarterback Andrew Luck, who has no timetable for return. Until newly traded for quarterback Jacoby Brissett learns the playbook, Scott Tolzien will unfortunately be at the helm of the offense. In Tolzien’s only start of the season in 2016 against the Steelers, his performance was underwhelming at best. He threw for 200 yards, one score, and two picks, recording a staggeringly bad 25.6 QBR. He was also unable to convert on fourth and goal multiple times. The Colts’ lost 28-7. Tolzien will need to make good, quick reads if he wants to have success in the passing game.
Colts’ second year center Ryan Kelly is out for a few weeks, which is a detrimental loss. He allowed no sacks in his rookie season, and is the future of this offensive line. Even without Aaron Donald, the Colts have to worry about blocking Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, and Connor Barwin. The rest of the offensive line is luckily healthy, but that being said, it is still a young and unexperienced unit. Jack Mewhort, and Anthony Castonzo lead the way as the only solid, experienced players on the line. Joe Haeg, Denzelle Good, and Le’Raven Clark are all players on their rookie contract. They will likely struggle, but the potential with them is definitely there.
Getting the run game going will be crucial in order to open up the passing game. Marlon Mack and Frank Gore will rely on this line to create holes for them to run through.
Colts’ Projected Offensive Line Depth Chart
Left Tackle: Anthony Castonzo, Le’Raven Clark
Left Guard: Jeremy Vujnovich
Center: Deshawn Bond, Adam Redmond
Right Guard: Jack Mewhort, Joe Haeg
Right Tackle: Denzelle Good, Le’Raven Clark
This Colts team will need to fight and be resillient in order to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2013.