Know Your Enemy: Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report

It’s the fans in touch with reality who are the most relatable. The Colts have been through a great era, not quite the 49ers from 1981-1994, but close. The loss of a legend came at a convenient time, as the team was reaching rock bottom in terms of surrounding talent. The Colts have started 3-3, which is pretty surprising considering they won two games all of last year. Has the rebuilding process been shortened? Nate Dunlevy will tell what’s really going on in Indianapolis.

The Colts travel to Nashville on Sunday. The winner will have four victories and will be a contender for an AFC playoff spot, assuming that they’re still awarding six of them in this year of mediocre teams. Someone has to finish second in the AFC South, and I’m going to say the Jaguars have been all but eliminated from consideration. Let’s get to the questions.

Even though the media seems fixated with everything RGIII, is the Colts fan base happy with the progression of Andrew Luck?

Absolutely. The bottom line is that Luck has very little help in Indy, but the team has three wins. His play has been largely misunderstood statistically and most of the advanced metrics have him ranked around the middle of the pack. For a rookie six games in to play league-average football is remarkable. Here’s a good piece to better explain his impact.

Does Vick Ballard keep the starting RB job when Donald Brown comes back? Are either of these guys the long-term answer?

Not even close. Brown is a vastly superior back to Ballard. There’s no comparison really. As for the future, I think they’d still like to upgrade, but Brown is a serviceable player who has real utility when healthy.

How’s the defense adjusting to the 3-4? Is Freeney going to tee off on Hasselbeck this weekend regardless of whether Roos comes back from appendix surgery?

Freeney has battled an ankle injury all year. He has a handful of tackles and one sack. The combination of his injury and the position change have stalled his contributions to almost non-existent levels. If he can’t take advantage this weekend, he may not be able to at all in this scheme.

Does Reggie Wayne’s great start to the season underline how bad the quarterbacks were last year? Can he keep this up and be a cornerstone as the team continues to develop?

Wayne is remarkable, and yes, his play shows how horrible all Indy QBs were in 2011. However, he turns 34 next month, so no. He’s not a cornerstone as much as he is a bridge. The long term answer at WR is not on the roster.

Can the defense be as successful against the run as they were in shutting down the Browns last week?

Not unless Chris Johnson has bruised ribs like Trent Richardson. I expect Tennessee to run all over Indianapolis, much the way the Jets did two weeks ago.

Are you working on book number three?

Yes, sort of. Right now, I’m working crazy hours, but there is a third book aimed at ranking and explaining the role of the wide receiver through history. Lots of good researchers have contributed to it already, and as soon as the season is over, I’m going to try and start hammering it out. [Zach note: Not sure if the 2012 Colts WR corps will make the final cut.]

Is there anything I missed that you’d like to address?

Titans fans should know the Colts are a one-dimensional team without much talent. Wayne and Luck have carried the day, but there are big problems with roster. I expect Tennessee to win big. [Zach note: This is the first time a Titan opponent blogger has been anything but confident. OK, maybe Ryan wasn’t but he’s a Steeler fan.]

Let me know if you have any other places to direct readers besides B/R, Colts Authority and the books.

Nope those are the big three,,, and

If you want some intelligent football commentary, follow Nate on Twitter. If not, follow him anyway.

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