Season summary: Disappointing. Underachieving. Embarrassing. The list of adjectives can go on and on to describe the second straight season in which the Colts missed the playoffs. They weren't expected to be Super Bowl contenders, but they should have been good enough to at least be a playoff team with the return of Andrew Luck from his lacerated kidney. That's why owner Jim Irsay cracked open his rich checkbook to give the quarterback a $140 million contract during the offseason. The road to the AFC South title was supposed to be easier when Houston lost J.J. Watt for the season with a back injury and got sketchy quarterback play from Brock Osweiler. That ended up being wishful thinking because the division was too much of a challenge for the Colts. It was just two years ago that they completed their second straight undefeated season in the AFC South. This season, though, they were swept by the Texans and lost to a Jacksonville team that fired its coach. Indianapolis had one winning streak -- two games -- and was never above .500 at any point this season despite having Luck for all but one game. The Colts never could find any consistency and lacked an identity while continuing their theme of bad defense. Despite all of those issues, the Colts were in position to win the division late in the season. But just like in December 2015, they let the Texans come into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and take the division from them again. Not winning one of the worst divisions in the NFL while having a talented quarterback such as Luck is inexcusable.
Biggest draft need: The Colts focused on the offensive line during the 2016 draft, using half of their eight picks there. The 2017 draft should be centered on the defense, which finished in the bottom third of the NFL for the fourth time in five seasons under coach Chuck Pagano. All four of their starting linebackers for most of the season were at least 30 years old, including sack leader Erik Walden. Franchise sack leader Robert Mathis, 35, is on the tail end of his career. The Colts also need to start thinking about finding a replacement for 33-year-old Frank Gore at running back.
Will there be a head coach/front office change? How Irsay thinks is anybody's guess. He had every opportunity to clean house last season, but instead, he gave Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson new contracts despite the obvious tension between the two. Irsay preached about having continuity at the top. What did that get him? Another non-playoff appearance because of poor play and poor roster makeup. This isn't a situation in which Pagano could be blamed more than Grigson or vice versa. They're both at fault for where the Colts stand. Firing the two would be public admittance by Irsay that he made the wrong decision to bring back the duo in January 2016. Irsay would also have to take the financial loss because Pagano and Grigson are both under contract through the 2019 season. But bringing them back would also be hard for the fan base to swallow because this franchise isn't showing any signs of improving, all while wasting the prime of Luck's career.
Will the Colts finally settle on an offensive line? The Colts started six different offensive line combinations this season and have started 35 different offensive lines since drafting Luck in 2012. They believe they're set with Joe Philbin as their offensive line coach and at center with Ryan Kelly, their 2016 first-round pick, veteran left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Jack Mewhort and Joe Haeg, who can play guard or tackle. The Colts need to find a fifth starting offensive lineman so they can finally stop the revolving door up front and hopefully have a group good enough to keep Luck from getting injured. The quarterback has missed 10 games due to injury the past two seasons after taking every meaningful snap during his first three seasons.