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INDIANAPOLIS – Point differential is a big indicator of team success for Chris Ballard.


It’s why Ballard was worried this past season after the Colts started 5-2, yet every single one of those games had been decided by just one score.


At the end of the 2019 season, the Colts missed the playoffs by two games. The playoff teams in the AFC averaged a positive point differential of 117. The Colts had a minus 12 point differential, after being plus 85 last season. 


Despite playing the easiest schedule in the AFC South (5th easiest in the AFC), the Colts did not make the postseason.


Unlike the first dozen years in the AFC South, it’s no longer a guarantee that the Colts will make the playoffs on a virtual annual basis.


Missing the playoffs in 2020—which would be for a 5th time in 6 years—would have this franchise in a position we haven’t seen in nearly 30 years.


To avoid that, what do the Colts need to get done?


Better Play From Key Positions


In today’s NFL, positions like quarterback, wideout, pass rush and cornerback have even more on their shoulders.


Simply, the Colts did not get enough quality play at any of those spots this past season.


That must change in 2020.


This league is too dependent on the pass (throwing it and defending it) for a team to make the playoffs, without having better than average play at those positions.


Find More Passing Game Production


Following the end of the 2019 season, Frank Reich pointed to passing offense and passing defense as two areas that must improve moving forward.


We will get into the defense below, but the passing offense was a constant issue all year long.


Despite having an effective rushing attack, the Colts struggled to find chunk plays via the air.


Personnel at quarterback and wideout (with injuries factoring in) did not play at an adequate level.


Rushing Attack Being Elite


The rushing attack of the Indianapolis Colts is a strength.


But to be elite, the run game must be able to still provide a higher level of production when facing top rush defenses.


The Colts faced 3 top-10 rushing defenses this season (Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Oakland). In those 3 games—all losses—they rushed for 66, 46 and 81 yards.


If you are going to be ‘elite’ in something, averaging barely more than 3 yards per carry against the better run defenses can’t happen. It immediately forces you to play left-handed.


Disruptive Defense


Chris Ballard has already stated the need for the Colts defense to create more turnovers.


And adding personnel known for taking away the football, will be key.


But the scheme can also aid in that by further evolving when it comes to mixing up coverage and disguising things pre-snap.


The core beliefs of Matt Eberflus’ defense don’t have to be totally changed, but some tweaks are needed from a week-to-week game plan standpoint.


Consistent Kicking


This is obvious.


The placekicking game must offer more consistency for the Colts in 2020.


It was 27 missed points on field goals (22-of-31) and 6 points missed on extra points (33-of-39).


When you toss in about 4 blocked kicks/punts, it was a disastrous year for the kicking game of the Colts.