Indianapolis Colts Mid-Season Evaluation
With a 5-5 record post-bye, the Indianapolis Colts are strategically positioning themselves for a potential postseason berth in the remaining seven weeks of the season. Despite facing formidable opponents, including Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Houston, the Colts have identified a plausible path to the playoffs.
Below is how each aspect of the Colt's team has performed up until their bye week.
Passing Yards: 11th best (1,987 yards)
Rushing Yards: 8th best (1,110 yards)
Yards Per Game: 12th best (344.10 yards)
Turnovers: Tied for 4th worst (14)
Points: 5th best (232)
How do you grade an offense when the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Anthony Richardson, suffered a season-ending injury to his shoulder that required surgery in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans? Although that might seem like a deal breaker, Garner Minshew has proven to be a reliable quarterback. At times, he demonstrates the ability to steer the offense toward a touchdown with his drives. However, there are instances when he makes decisions that raise questions and result in turnovers. Additionally, he occasionally tends to play with restless footwork, hindering the effectiveness of the passing attack.
The combination of Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss has proven to be one of the most effective in the entire NFL, contributing to the Colts being the sole team to score at least 20 points in every game this season. Following the bye week, both players serve as the offensive backbone and reliable assets the team can depend on to secure game closures.
The Colt's receiving core predominantly focuses on the trio of Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, and Alec Pierce. Michael Pittman Jr. has been the leader of the group and a reliable option for Gardner Minshew. He has the league's sixth-most receptions (66) and 12th-most receiving yards (677). His YAC (yards after carry) yards (312) are the 10th best as well, and he leads the NFL with the most receptions (13) inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Josh Downs is having an excellent rookie season. He has made a reputation for himself for picking up first downs for the offense, especially in third-down situations. Here are his stats: Catches: 43 (2nd), Targets: 60 (2nd), Receiving Yards: 523 (2nd), Touchdowns: 2 (T-2nd), First Downs: 22 (2nd). Unfortunately, Alec Pierce has been a bit of a letdown this season. Pierce struggles to consistently create separation or showcase effective route running, frequently being utilized for blocking or as a downfield decoy. With only 18 catches on 33 targets, totaling 264 yards, and no touchdowns this year, his receiving performance has been notably lacking despite his proficiency in blocking. Hopefully, he can pick it up in the back half of the season.
Despite the quarterback position experiencing inconsistency, the Colts, under Shane Steichen's inaugural year as head coach, have emerged as a formidable offense. As of Week 11, they boast the eighth-highest points per game (24.2), the tenth-highest rushing yards per game (118.0), and the thirteenth-highest total yards per game (336.1) in the league.
Overall Score: B
Passing Yards Allowed: 6th worst (2,115 yards)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 5th worst (1,130 yards)
Yards Per Game: 7th worst (360.60 yards)r
Interceptions: Tied for 3rd best (9)
Sacks: Tied for 7th best (25)
Points: 2nd worst (242)
Facing challenges in October, the Colts surrendered 114 points during a three-game losing streak. Despite this, the defense showcases prowess in sacks, strip sacks, and fumble recoveries, ranking among the league's top six. Operating on a bend-but-don't-break philosophy, they've allowed the seventh-highest total yards per game at 358.5. Noteworthy is their tie for the 14th-highest passing yards per game allowed (228.8) and the ninth-highest rushing yards per game allowed (129.7) this season.
The Colts stand out with the league's third-most takeaways (16), demonstrating their ability to turn the tide in favor of a struggling offense. However, injuries have turned their thin cornerback room into a liability. In summary, the defense has been a remedy for a struggling offense, with stellar performances from Kenny Moore II and Dayo Odeyingbo serving as constants in an otherwise fluctuating defensive landscape.
The mid-term grade for the Colts is undoubtedly positive, but it comes with the acknowledgment that there's still significant work ahead, and the team hasn't consistently showcased its best football. Despite this, there's a chance for the Colts to make a strong push in the AFC wild-card race with an impressive performance in the second half of the season.
Colt's Overall Grade: B
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)