It has been a rough couple of years for the Indianapolis Colts. Team Captain Andrew Luck has been out of commission for more than a full season. The team has missed the playoffs and not had a winning record since 2012. Luckily, Luck recently started throwing a football again, and the team has been building up an offensive line to protect him. Things are starting to look up for the 2018 season.
Let’s build the hype even more with Colts entry into the All-Franchise team series! Highlighted below, on offense, will be one quarterback, three wide receivers, and a full offensive line on offense. On defense, we’ll look at the two best cornerbacks and safeties, the two best outside linebackers, their best middle linebacker, and the top two defensive ends and tackles.
Of course, no team is complete without a kicker, a punter, and a great return man to flip the field. Finally, they need a coach to bring it all together. Also, the list won’t be solely players from Indianapolis, since the Colts also played in Baltimore until 1984.
Head Coach: Tony Dungy (2002-2008)
Who else would be worthy enough to coach the team except for the coach that took them to their only Super Bowl in Indianapolis? Sure, Don McCafferty technically won the Colts their first Super Bowl when they played in Baltimore, but he was only with the team for three years and had a 33-22 record. Tony Dungy, on the other hand, went 85-27 in his seven years as head coach in Indy. He won at least ten games and made the playoffs every season he was there. Dungy was beloved by his players, and the team hated to see him go. He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning (1998-2010)
Again, this one should come as no surprise. Peyton Manning is not only one of the best Colts players all-time, he’s one of the best to ever set foot on an NFL field. Manning was the definition of a field general, basically running his own offense as he dissected defenses pre-snap. He only had two losing seasons as the Colts quarterback, one of which was his rookie year.
He basically holds every passing record a quarterback can have, most of which will probably never be broken. Most notably, he was named NFL MVP a record five times and holds the NFL career passing touchdown record with 539. Although he finished his career as a Super Bowl Champion for the Denver Broncos, he will always be remembered for being the greatest Colt of all time.
Running Back: Edgerrin James (1995-2005)
Edgerrin James may not have been the greatest running back to ever put on a Colts jersey, but he is the greatest running back to spend their entire career as a Colt. Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk are some of the best running backs all-time, but they are more known for their work on other teams. James spent his entire ten-year career in Indianapolis, playing in 356 games.
During that time, he amassed 9,226 rushing yards and 64 touchdowns. James added 2,839 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. He almost doubled Dickerson and Faulk’s rushing yards for the Colts. Though eligible for the hall of fame, he still did not get in this year. But it is only a matter of time for “The Edge,” as he will eventually get the nod from voters.
Wide Receivers: Marvin Harrison (1996-2008) and Reggie Wayne (2001-2014)
Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will go down as one of the best wide receiver duos in NFL history. It’s tough to really choose one over the other, and the facts are that on the All-Franchise team, neither of them is ever leaving the field. Both of them have over 1,000 receptions and 14,000 total yards. Coincidentally, both Harrison’s and Wayne’s longest catches went for 80 yards, although Harrison’s also went for a touchdown.
And touchdowns are where Harrison gains the lead over Wayne. During his time as a Colt, Harrison racked up a ridiculous 128 touchdowns. Starting with leading the league in receiving yards in 1999, Harrison went on to dish out eight straight 1,100+ yard, 10+ touchdown seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. Wayne is right behind Harrison on the all-time receiving yard leaders, but his lack of touchdowns could make him wait a little longer than Harrison had to in order to get into the Hall of Fame.
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton (2012-Present)
It may seem a bit premature to put T.Y. Hilton on this list since he is still in the league, but he’s already put together enough accolades in his six seasons to show that he has earned his spot on the All-Franchise team. He had a down year in 2017 without his draft mate Andrew Luck throwing him the ball and was not able to go over 1,000 yards. Before that, however, he had four straight 1,000-yard seasons. He even led the league in receiving in 2016. Hilton is already fourth all-time in receiving yards for the Colts and should pass Raymond Berry for third all-time within three years if he keeps up his current pace.
Tight End: John Mackey (1963-1971)
This one was the first tough choice for this list. John Mackey and Dallas Clark were neck and neck, but ultimately, Mackey must get the nod, especially considering the time in which he played. The 1960s were a time when the league was predominatly run-focused. Even so, Mackey finished his Colts career with 320 receptions for 5,126 yards and 38 touchdowns. His 16 yards per catch is even higher than home-run hitter Hilton. He has more yards than Clark, even though Clark played his entire career with Manning. Mackey also won a Super Bowl when the Colts were still in Baltimore in his final year with the Colts.
Left Tackle: Tarik Glenn (1997-2006)
It should not be too surprising that when looking at offensive linemen, the first person listed is a guy who was Manning’s blindside protector on the Colts 2006 Super Bowl team. Part of the reason the Colts got over the hump was that Manning had time in the pocket to sit and surgically survey and slice up team’s secondaries. Tarik Glenn locked down Manning’s left side for the entirety of his ten-year career. He was also a three-time Pro Bowler from 2004-2006 and only missed six games his entire career. Glenn was a first-round draft pick by Colts in 1997 and made the all-rookie team.
Left Guard: Jim Parker (1957-1967)
The most decorated offensive lineman to play on the Colts is guard/tackle, Jim Parker. He actually played more of his career at tackle than guard but would fit best on this All Franchise team as a left guard. From 1958-1965 he not only made the Pro Bowl but was also first-team All-Pro. This includes his entire four-year span that he played guard.
Parker protected Johnny Unitas, helping him and the team win two straight NFL Championships in 1958-59. Parker was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he also made the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-50’s team. Parker was actually the first full-time offensive lineman to get into the Hall of Fame. He may not be a household name because of when he played, but Parker is one of the best offensive linemen to ever play the game.
Center: Jeff Saturday (1999-2011)
Perhaps the most well known offensive lineman from the Colts is center Jeff Saturday. Another constant during Manning’s time in Indianapolis, Saturday arrived a year after Manning was drafted, and stuck around for one more year after he left. In his career, Saturday appeared in six Pro Bowls. Five of them were with the Colts, and the last one was also his final season when he played with the Green Bay Packers (his only season he wasn’t a Colt). Saturday was a two-time All Pro in 2005 and 2007. Undoubtedly his chemistry with Manning assisted his signal caller with dissecting defenses before the snap.
Right Guard: Dan Sullivan (1962-1972)
It takes a bit of digging to decide who is worthy of starting at right guard for the All-Franchise Colts, but Dan Sullivan is an under-the-radar player who deserves the starting nod. Sullivan is about as old school as it gets. He played in the Colts first Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the Joe Namath–led New York Jets. Sullivan was still with them two years later when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. Though he never made any Pro Bowls or All-Pro teams, Sullivan was still a constant contributor in his eleven years in the league. He may be one of the Colts most underrated players.
Right Tackle: Chris Hinton (1983-1989)
Although Chris Hinton played basically his entire time with the Colts as their left tackle, he would have no problem taking one for the team and sliding over to right tackle on their All-Franchise team. Plus, Hinton does have experience at right tackle. After leaving Indy, he played on the right side for the rest of his career with the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. He made six Pro Bowls with the Colts, including five straight from 1985-89.
Hinton also takes a place in history for being part of the trade deal that sent John Elway to the Denver Broncos. Later, he was packaged again to the Atlanta Falcons to bring Jeff George to the Colts.
Defense (4-3 Alignment)
Defensive End: Dwight Freeney (2002-2012)
Kicking off the Colts All-Franchise defense is a more modern player. Defensive end Dwight Freeney is the most decorated Colts defender of all time. In his eleven years with the Colts, he made seven Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. In 2004, he led the league in sacks with 16. Freeney is perhaps most known for his trademark spin move that gave offensive linemen fits for years. Former Houston Texans quarterback David Carr is probably still having nightmares about facing him.
Defensive Tackle: Tony Siragusa (1990-1996)
Tony Siragusa, aka “Goose” was a fan favorite during his time in Indianapolis. Goose is another underrated player who doesn’t get a lot of respect. He never made any Pro Bowls or All-Pro teams, but he was a reliable run-stopper who could also get to the quarterback. Siragusa’s best year as a Colt came in 1994 when he had five sacks and 62 tackles. After being waived by the Colts after the 1996 season, he played out the rest of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, where he won a Super Bowl in his final season.
Defensive tackle: Art Donovan (1950, 1953-1961)
Now it’s time to go way back in the past for the next defensive player, Art Donovan. Donovan was a World War II Combat Veteran, who transitioned to football afterward. He began his career with the Baltimore Colts well before the Super Bowl era. He then went to play for the New York Football Yankees and the Dallas Texans before both teams disappeared. Donovan returned to Baltimore in 1953 and really broke through as a player. He made five straight Pro Bowls and then had four straight All-Pro years.
Nicknamed “Fatso,” Donovan was beloved by his teammates and fans well after he played his final game because he was so relatable and humble. He won two straight NFL championships in 1958 (dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever”) and 1959. Finally, Donovan was voted into the Hall of Fame in only his second year of eligibility.
Defensive End: Gino Marchetti (1953-1964)
Gino Marchetti was a teammate of Fatso’s, and somehow, even more accomplished. As a defensive end, he made eleven straight Pro Bowls and mixed in seven All-Pro team selections (six straight). Marchetti retired after the 1964 season and sat out all of 1965. Head Coach Don Shula convinced him to come back in 1966, but he only played four games before calling it quits for good.
Sadly, sacks were not recorded back when he played, so it’s tough to see just how good he was without watching him play. Still, analysts regard him as one of the top defensive ends to ever play the game.
Outside Linebacker: Robert Mathis (2003-2016)
The Colts linebackers are the toughest bunch to mix through for the All-Time team. Not many have made Pro Bowls. The only linebacker to play on the Colts who is in the Hall of Fame is Ted Hendricks, but he got in as an Oakland Raider. Since there are a few defensive ends worthy of making the All-Time team, that puts Robert Mathis as the best pick for outside linebacker.
Though Mathis played most of his career at defensive end, he did transition to linebacker later in his career. He also made First-Team All-Pro at linebacker in 2013, where he racked up a career-high 19.5 sacks. He is the Colts all-time leader in sacks with 123. Mathis and Freeney terrorized quarterbacks together for years, and are sure to be ecstatic to be reunited on the All-Franchise team.
Middle Linebacker: Jeff Herrod (1988-1996, 1998)
Some fans would argue that Gary Brackett should be the man chosen here since he was captain of the Colts most recent Super Bowl winning defense. However, he does not stand the test of time compared to other players. Jeff Herrod was a much more consistent performer and is the worthiest of this spot.
Herrod was a ninth-round pick by Indianapolis in the 1988 draft and he ended up quickly becoming a big contributor for years to come. He had five straight years where he had at least 138 tackles and added 14.5 sacks during his time in Indianapolis. Overall, he is second all-time on the Colts in tackles. Herrod is not as well known by many because the Colts did not make a lot of noise in the NFL during his time. Despite that, he earned his spot on the All-Time team.
Outside Linebacker: Duane Bickett (1985-1993)
Duane Bickett completes the Colts All-Franchise linebacker corps. Remember, Herrod is second all-time in tackles for the Colts. Well, Bickett is number one, racking up 1,052 tackles in his nine years with the team. Bickett was an all-around linebacker too. His 50 sacks during his tenure are good for third all-time, right behind Mathis and Freeney, and he even added nine interceptions. Bickett was the 1985 AP Defensive Rookie of the year and appeared in one Pro Bowl in his career. He is another underappreciated player outside of the franchise.
Cornerback: Bobby Boyd (1960-1969)
Here is another blast from the past that even some Colts diehards may have never heard of. Do an online search of Bobby Boyd and the first thought, upon seeing his picture, will be that the guy does not have the look of a star cornerback. He was under six feet tall and bald before he was even 30. Still, he is probably the best Colts cornerback of all time. His 57 interceptions are not only the most ever by a Colt but 13th most ever in the NFL. He won an NFL title in 1968, but then surprisingly retired the year after losing to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Boyd wound up coaching the Colts defensive backs until 1972.
Cornerback: Eugene Daniel (1984-1986)
This one was a tough choice between Vontae Davis and Eugene Daniel, but ultimately Daniel gets the nod based on his years of consistency. Daniel played all but one of his 14 seasons with the Colts, and only missed 12 games during that span. He accumulated 35 interceptions during that time, good for third-most of any Colt. Daniel was an eighth-round pick by the Colts but ended up showing enough skill to thrust him quickly into the starting lineup. He is another player that did not get a lot of accolades but Indianapolis could always count on him.
Free Safety: Rick Volk (1967-1975)
Rick Volk was part of the Super Bowl V winning Colts team, and another extremely consistent starter during his nine years with the team. He and fellow safety Jerry Logan were a big reason for the Colts making it to Super Bowl III and winning Super Bowl V. Volk was a three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 1971. He was as reliable as they come, only missing two games up until his final season in Baltimore. His 31 interceptions are also good for sixth all-time with Colts.
Strong Safety: Bob Sanders (2004-2010)
This one is an obvious pick considering it is a fantasy All-Franchise team, where players are assumed to be at the top of their game and healthy. Most Colts fans would agree that talent-wise, Bob Sanders is one of Indy’s best defensive players ever. His problem was that he played with such reckless abandon that he was seldom healthy.
In his seven years with the Colts, there were only two seasons where he started more than six games. The two he did, however, were Pro Bowl and All-Pro seasons. His talent was obvious as soon as he got in the league too, winning 2007 AP Defensive Player of the Year. Since All-Franchise players are injury proof, Sanders is the perfect player to round out the defense.
Return Man: Terrence Wilkins (1999-2006)
This position was tough to choose for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, the Colts have never really had a good returner. Only two players in their entire history have more than two returns. One of those men is Terrence Wilkins. He is second overall in return touchdown (four) and second in punt return yards (1,065). Wilkins leads the team in kick return yards by a wide margin with 4,017. He may not be dazzling, but he’ll do for the All-Time team.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri (2006-Present)
The Colts have been blessed to have gone from one great kicker to another. At one point it looked like Mike Vanderjagt would go down as the greatest Colts kicker of all time. Then, the Colts signed the living legend himself, Adam Vinatieri in 2006. Vinatieri already had a highly successful career with the New England Patriots prior to coming to Indianapolis. Last season at 45 years old, he still looked like he still had a lot in him, making 85% of his kicks. He is second in history only to Morten Anderson in kicks made and points scored. With only seven field goals and 58 points, Vinatieri will pass Anderson, and cement himself as the greatest kicker to ever play the game.
Punter: Pat McAfee (2009-2016)
What better way to finish off the Colts All-Franchise team than with the beloved Pat McAfee as the punter? McAfee was one of the more beloved players on the Colts because of his big sense of humor and personality and he backed it up on the field. He is the Colts all-time leader in yards per punt (46.4). In fact, he retired after arguably his best season where he managed to average just under 50 yards per punt, including a long of 74 yards. That’s almost three-quarters of the entire football field! Overall, McAfee and Vinatieri are one of the best kicker/punter duos of all time.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: Indianapolis Colts All-Franchise Team