Linebacker Philip Wheeler May Be Next to Leave Indianapolis Colts: Fan’s View

The Indianapolis Colts were a historically awful team in 2011, finishing 2-14 and running a bunch of no-name players out on the field every week. The Horseshoes ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category on both sides of the ball, and owner Jim Irsay has blown up the entire club in the aftermath of the disaster. The front office and coaching staffs have been gutted, legendary players have been cut, free agents have been shown the door and fans have been left reeling. Week after week, old faces hit the road and leave holes to be filled, and there seems to be little chance of anyone stemming the tide at this point. The latest Colt who appears to be headed to another team is free agent linebacker Philip Wheeler, who visited with the Miami Dolphins on March 24. Wheeler was one of the few Colts defenders who played with any competency at all in 2011, but I won't be too sad to see him go under the current circumstances.

Wheeler picked up significant playing time with the Colts last year thanks to attrition and the generally terrible showing of his teammates, and he managed to pick up 47 solo tackles and assist on 37 more in the process. Still, the fact remains that the Colts ranked 29th in the NFL against the run, and the linebacking corps has to take its fair share of the blame for that paltry showing. Wheeler is also better suited to the 4-3 scheme, where significant first contact is made at the line of scrimmage, than the 3-4 scheme, which relies even more heavily on its LBs to stop the run. In case you hadn't heard, new head coach Chuck Pagano seems intent on implementing a 3-4 with the Colts, which means that Wheeler really doesn't fit here.

Miami actually seems like a decent fit for Wheeler, because they find themselves in the reverse position from the Colts, planning a shift from the 3-4 scheme to the 4-3. Wheeler could actually find himself in the enviable position of joining a stronger defensive unit while also hanging onto his starting gig. And, of course, starters signed through free agency generally make some decent coin in the NFL, so Wheeler should be in line for a decent pay bump in 2012, as well.

Put it all together, and it adds up to another Colt heading out of Indianapolis. Just another day of change in Circle City during the off-season of 2012.

Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.

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Updated Sunday, Mar 25, 2012