You could've guessed by the way the Indianapolis Colts have talked about Philip Rivers that they're excited to have him on board as the starting quarterback for 2020. But how much, exactly, does the team expect the 38-year-old former Los Angeles Chargers signal-caller to improve their offense and playoff chances?
Quite a bit, if you ask The Athletic's Stephen Holder.
Holder joined guest host Ryan Wilson on Wednesday's "Pick Six NFL Podcast" to discuss the Colts' pivot to Rivers this offseason, and he made it clear that Indy feels as if it couldn't be in a much better spot at QB.
"They went from not thinking about quarterback in the short term to quarterback being their primary issue," Holder explained of Andrew Luck's abrupt preseason retirement in 2019. "Given where they came from and the hand they were dealt, they're in a pretty good spot ... They feel like they've upgraded. I do think (Rivers) gives them what they're looking for."
What, precisely, are the Colts looking for from Rivers, who will replace Jacoby Brissett under center?
"More big plays," Holder said. "A little more aggressiveness. Philip's approach to the game gives them the opportunity to do those things."
And because of it, he added, the Colts have to viewed as potential AFC South favorites. The Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans were both playoff teams in 2019, and the Jacksonville Jaguars could be a physical foe as well, but Holder views a Rivers-led Colts team as much improved from a year ago.
"They won seven games last year when I don't think they were that good," he said. "They were 7-9 under the absolute worst circumstances you could imagine. They need to be talking about nine wins as their floor ... Can they get to 11 wins? Yeah, they can. Will they? That depends ... Certainly they're not afraid of those teams (in the division). They know how to beat those teams. I don't think the Colts are intimidated by anybody."