With center Ryan Kelly (78) leading an offensive line that returns its key players, the Colts figure to protect quarterback Andrew Luck (12) better in 2017. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
"Let me say this: The offensive line is fixed, " Irsay said this week. "I'm telling you guys, the offensive line is fixed. The reason I'll tell you it's fixed is because [former Colts offensive line coach] Howard Mudd told me it's fixed. If Howard Mudd tells you it's fixed, trust me, it's fixed."
The offensive line problems are fixed?
That's a bold statement, considering that Luck has been sacked 156 times in his career and that the Colts gave up 128 quarterback hits in 2016, second most in the NFL. Luck has missed eight games over the past two seasons because of injuries partially due to poor offensive line play.
Indianapolis' offensive line should be improved because the unit returns its core group from 2016, when the Colts started three rookies, led by center Ryan Kelly. This is the first time in Luck's career that Indianapolis is returning its key O-line players from the previous season.
Here are the projected starters: Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Jack Mewhort, center Kelly, right guard Joe Haeg and right tackle Le'Raven Clark.
Consistency on the line - and a healthy Luck - should put the Colts in position to have one of the NFL's better offenses next season after finishing eighth in scoring at 25.7 points per game in 2016.