Pagano, Luck and other new faces hope to spur 2012 turnaround

Well, it can’t get any worse, right Colts’ fans? As unbearable as the 2011 team was to watch, the uncertainty regarding Peyton Manning’s mysterious neck injury allowed for false hope. No. 18 wasn’t walking through that door to salvage the Colts’ season, even though that exact possibility seemed to exist every week.

The end result was a 2-14 nightmare, the franchise’s worst record since the 1991 squad — led by Jeff ‘Captain Checkdown’ George — finished 1-15 and only scored 143 points all season, then a record-low for an NFL team with a 16-game schedule.

Colts owner/Twitter savant Jim Irsay cleaned house in the offseason. Out went head coach Jim Caldwell, general manager Chris Polian and in came Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson in their places. Longtime team president Bill Polian was also shown the door.

Entering the start of camp Sunday, Indianapolis supposedly has the best quarterback prospect (Andrew Luck) since Manning taking the reigns of an offense that can go nowhere but up.

Pagano, formerly the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, has switched Indy’s defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment, which most notably forces Pro Bowl defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to outside/rush linebacker positions. Veteran free agents with Ravens’ ties (defensive lineman Cory Redding, safety Tom Zbikowski) were added to patch holes to new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s unit.

Three key storylines to ponder as the Hoosier State’s professional football team goes camping…

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