The Indianapolis Colts have been a pleasant surprise this season.
Through seven games, they sit atop the AFC South, tied with the Tennessee Titans with a 5-2 record.
The Colts have the fifth-best point differential in the league in large part to their revamped defense, limiting opponents to just 19.4 points per game.
Their splashy offseason additions, DeForest Buckner and Xavier Rhodes have already paid major dividends.
Colts' DC Matt Eberflus on DeForest Buckner today: "What I've learned after six weeks is that he's even better than I thought. He's better in practice than I thought. He's better against the run than I thought. He's better rushing the passer than I thought."
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 27, 2020
The offense has been solid as well, buoyed by the contributions from multiple playmakers.
However, they have feasted on their weak schedule, beating bottom-feeders such as the Jaguars, Jets, Lions, and Bengals.
With the eighth-most difficult schedule remaining, the league’s trade deadline at 4 pm EST tomorrow looms large.
Here are three moves that the Colts should make to gear up for a run at the postseason.
1. Trade for AJ Green
The Colts’ receiving corps this year has been battered by injuries, limiting the upside of the offense.
TY Hilton exited Week 8 with a groin injury, while a knee injury has sidelined Parris Campbell since Week 2.
Colt’s second-round rookie Michael Pittman Jr. returned after missing the previous three games to a calf injury, but the team likely wants to ease him back into action.
Despite never having a full arsenal to work with, new signal-caller Philip Rivers has been able to adjust and distribute the ball evenly.
However, the team lacks a true alpha to open up the playbook.
Hilton is the leading receiver for this team, yet he has just 251 yards and zero touchdown receptions to his name.
Enter AJ Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.
While he truthfully hasn’t played all too well this season, a change of scenery could be the cure to his woes.
It is evident that Green is no longer part of the burgeoning youth movement in Cincinnati, and a trade would allow him to play for a contender.
So long as the Bengals are willing to eat a part of Green’s $18 million salary, this could be a great match.
2. Trade For Ryan Kerrigan
As good as the Colts’ defense has been this year, there are still a couple of holes that need to be addressed.
The pass rush has been mediocre at best, generating pressure (QB hurries, knockdowns, and sacks) at a 19.6% clip, good for 18th in the league.
Denico Autry, Justin Houston, Tyquan Lewis, and Buckner have all performed well, but teams will always welcome another pass rusher.
Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Football Team recently requested a trade, making him the perfect candidate for the Colts.
Ryan Kerrigan has requested a trade from the Washington Football Team, per @AdamSchefter. Wow. He's not getting on the field and clearly wants that chance.
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 1, 2020
Unfortunately, Washington has indicated that they will not trade their franchise leader in sacks.
Teams typically throw smokescreens to up the bidding, though, especially since pass rushers are always in demand.
Kerrigan may not revert to the double-digit sack artist he once was, but he would help elevate the skill and production of this group.
3. Trade For Myles Jack
This acquisition might be the most unlikely option, seeing that the Jaguars have not explicitly made Jack available.
However, should the rebuilding Jags put Jack on the block, Chris Ballard should give them a call.
The asking price might be astronomical, but pairing Jack and Darius Leonard would give the Colts perhaps the best LB duo in the league.
1. Myles Jack – 88.6
2. Fred Warner – 83.6
3. Darius Leonard – 81.6
4. K.J. Wright – 81.2
5. Blake Martinez – 79.8 pic.twitter.com/CJ42mVoC7P
— PFF (@PFF) October 29, 2020
Current starter Bobby Okereke has been a decent run defender but is getting shredded in coverage this year.
Despite playing just 208 snaps in coverage this year (#28 amongst LB), PFF has credited Okereke with giving up 355 yards of receiving, the third-worst mark in the league.
The second-year LB is the seventh most targeted player at his position and has given up the second-most receptions.
Jack, on the other hand, has elite sideline-to-sideline speed and is an anchor in the middle of the field.
Though he is currently injured, he is set to return soon and would be a boon for this defense and this franchise.