Colts played hard, but failed to finish games

Jan 4, 2018 - 2:35 AM INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts could not seem to get out of their own way during 2017 season.

Indianapolis finished with a 4-12 record and wound up with a third-place finish in the AFC South thanks to sweeping the series with division-rival Houston.

It was the Colts' worst record since 2011, when the team finished with a 2-14 mark. Indianapolis will now have the third overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Injuries once again played havoc with the Colts' roster as the team wound up with 17 players on the injured reserve list by the end of the season.

That list included quite a few key starters, including quarterback Andrew Luck, running back Robert Turbin, rookie safety (and first-round pick) Malik Hooker, cornerback Pierre Desir, outside linebacker John Simon, inside linebacker Jon Bostic, guard Jack Mewhort, center Ryan Kelly and defensive end Henry Anderson.

Other starters, such as wide receiver Donte Moncrief, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and tackle Denzelle Good, missed significant playing time.

Still, despite the health issues and the uncertainty of which players would be able to play each week, the Colts were able to be competitive most of the season.

Indianapolis certainly had its chances to win games. But the Colts failed to hold the lead in five games during the season. That was two more than any other team in the league.

Consistency of effort was good for the most part. Finishing out games was the biggest on-field problem.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Colts' defensive line finally started to take shape in 2017, thanks largely to the addition of a pair of free agents -- defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and nose tackle Al Woods -- along with the return of defensive end Henry Anderson. Throw in the continued development of defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and the addition of rookie defensive tackle Grover Stewart and Indianapolis has some nice building blocks with which to work.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Not having quarterback Andrew Luck available for the entire season was the biggest problem. Team officials had hoped backup quarterback Scott Tolzien could hold down the fort until Luck returned at some point. But Tolzien struggled badly in his only start of the season, and Luck never made it back to the practice field on a regular basis. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett arrived just before the start of the regular season and was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Quarterback Scott Tolzien would probably edge out safety T.J. Green in his category. Tolzien had played relatively well in his only start during a 2016 homefield start against Pittsburgh. So hopes were high that he could handle the job if starter Andrew Luck was sidelined short or long term. That didn't happen. Tolzien had an up-and-down preseason followed by a bad performance in a season-opening road loss to the Rams. That forced the team to start quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was acquired during the weekend of the cuts to 53 players.

MOST SURPRISING PLAYER: Cornerback Rashaan Melvin. He began the season as the "other" cornerback who lined up opposite Pro Bowler Vontae Davis. But as the season progressed and Davis battled injuries, it was Melvin who developed into the Colts' most consistent cornerback. He wound up tying for the team lead in interceptions with three (along with rookie safety Malik Hooker) and could wind up with a nice new contract during the offseason.

ASSISTANT COACH ON THE RISE: While there's uncertainty as to which person will wind up as Indianapolis' new head coach, quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer did a nice job of working with Jacoby Brissett during the season. Brissett was added to the roster a few days before the start of the regular season and was forced to learn the Colts' offensive system in a hurry. Schottenheimer, though, was there to help him work his way through the playbook.

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