The Indianapolis Colts probably needed 2022.
The Colts never faced reality after Andrew Luck retired. They’ve been good enough most years righting the quarterback position with veterans looking for last chances. The Colts were pretty good for shredding but nowhere near a championship contender. Going into the last season, he was the favorite to win the AFC South title. If they have a regular season after the Luck Colts — a record hovering near . 500, playoff contention despite no real hope of a deep playoff run — they may be on another interim veteran QB in his late 30s, and they will again be Good enough to put off rebuilding.
Nothing in the Colts’ 2022 season has been normal.
Matt Ryan hit the wall hard and was benched. twice. The Colts fired Frank Reich and made the shocking decision to hire Jeff Saturday, who had no coaching experience after high school, as interim coach.
“Do you want to bet against this guy?” Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a memorable defiant press conference. “Put your money down, people. I’d love to see it.”
The Colts went 1-7 on Saturday. One of the losses was the false end of the largest comeback in NFL history, when the Minnesota Vikings rallied from a 33-0 downfall to win. Despite the low expectations for a Saturday-led team, the Colts couldn’t even get past that bar.
At least it led to significant changes. Irsay wanted to work on Saturdays and was given a full-time job, but fortunately that didn’t happen to Colts fans. Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has been hired. Thanks to the Colts bottoming out last season, they got the fourth pick in the NFL Draft and then got their break. The Colts claimed to have settled on Anthony Richardson as their target a month before the draftThen the Florida quarterback fell to them with the No. 4 pick.
There is danger with Richardson. He had only 13 career starts in college. It will need to evolve. But no quarterback entered the NFL with Richardson’s physical appearance. He blasted the scouting squad, setting multiple test records for QBs. The Colts, who had been settling in at the center since Luck’s departure away, were ultimately not content with swinging a one-out.
“I didn’t want to look for him and watch him star somewhere else,” GM Chris Ballard said in a team documentary after the draft. “If he’s going to be a star, he’ll be a star for the Colts.”
If Richardson hits, the list isn’t that bad. A lot of holes were exposed during a miserable 2022 season, but there is a decent foundation between a good offensive line, running back Jonathan Taylor, receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and a decent defense led by lineman DeForest Buckner.
For good or bad, it was time for the Ponies to change lanes. If Richardson becomes a MVP-level player on the road – and he has that cap – Saturday’s insane experience and the entire miserable 2022 season will be worth the embarrassment.
The offseason will be remembered for choosing Anthony Richardson. It is difficult to name a player with such a wide range of career results in the NFL. It was a good draft overall, featuring Julius Prentice in the second round and interesting (albeit small) receiver Josh Downs in the third. The Colts draft pick has the third-highest consensus score among experts, via strangers football, though much of that will be determined by Richardson. In free agency, the Colts added defensive end Samson Ekubam and defensive tackle Taven Bryan and also signed Matt Gay to the largest free agent contract ever by a kicker (four years, $22.5 million). Quarterback Gardner Minshew was signed as an insurance Indianapolis hopes he doesn’t need. The big loss was linebacker Bobby Okerek, who signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the New York Giants. The Colts also traded cornerback Stephon Gilmour to the Dallas Cowboys. If the draft was as good as everyone thought it was, this was the offseason the Colts needed.
degree: b +
In a perfect world, Anthony Richardson would probably sit out an entire season, although sitting back and learning is an old fashioned way to develop a running back. Richardson may be a rare case in which it is the right approach, given his inexperience. But it’s hard to believe the Colts will wait so long. Owner Jim Irsay has already said Richardson will start as a starter, though he didn’t say when. After the conclusion of the first round of the draft, Ballard attempted to moderate expectations for Richardson’s starting schedule.
“Let’s not expect him to be Superman from day one,” Ballard said.
If Richardson doesn’t look good in the preseason, the Colts may turn to Minshew for a while. But at some point, perhaps early in the season, the Colts will trust that Richardson’s playmaking upside is worth living for whatever mistakes he may make.
Breakdown of BetMGM odds
I don’t have a great read on the Colts’ 6.5 win total at BetMGM’, but I’ll take a few shots on the “Hey, what if Anthony Richardson’s scary talent came out right away?” Possibility. If the Jacksonville Jaguars take a step back, the Colts could be next in line to win the AFC South title. The odds of them winning the division are +550. The odds for Richardson’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award are +750 and I really like that. Voters like Quarterback and Richardson are behind Bryce Young and CJ Stroud on those odds. If Richardson struggled in his first season, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. But it’s worth the odds on Richardson putting up good numbers right away.
Take Yahoo Fictional
From Scott Pianowski of Yahoo: Scouts’ opinions vary widely on Anthony Richardson, but his fantasy setup is an easy sell. Richardson showed electric rushing ability in college—both in power runs and in breakaway splash plays—and new manager Shane Station was essentially the architect of Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts breakout. Even if Richardson initially struggled as a passer, his quick chops, Steichen’s dribbles, and the way fantasy football is scored make the rookie a high-level fantasy pick.
“Richardson won’t be drafted as a starting fantasy starter—the Colts probably won’t rush him to take the job, especially with Gardner Minshew as insurance—but he makes an interesting cap option once fantasy managers start picking up reserves.”
Stats to remember
Last season, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts scored 123 designed runs and added 44 tackles, According to Pro Football Focus. This 8.2 is designed to run a game. PFF said Hurts gained 411 rushing yards on those designed runs. SI.com said The Eagles have made 251 run-pass option (RPO) times, or about 20% of their offensive plays.
Just because new Colts head coach Shane Steichen was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator last season doesn’t mean the offenses will be the same. However, it is possible that Steichen’s offense will get harder with Anthony Richardson at QB, the more he takes over. Hurts had more than eight runs built for the game, and was a more advanced passer than Richardson with better receivers than the Colts. We don’t know what Richardson would be like as an NFL linebacker, but he could be an instantly devastating runner. He is 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash of 4.43 seconds at the combine. The option to play with Jonathan Taylor at running back would be too difficult for the defense, and the RPOs would make pass reading easier for the inexperienced quarterback. This could be a perfect scheme for Richardson.
During four seasons in the NFL, Leonard was one of the best football players around. He made three All-Pro teams. Then he underwent back surgery last year.
Leonard played in just three games last season and admitted he looked slow in film. He underwent a second back surgery. Even Leonard is wondering what happens next, as he enters his 28-year-old season.
“I went through so many times thinking, Am I going back to 53? Am I going back to The Maniac?” Leonard said in April. via the Indianapolis Star.
Leonard will not rush back this time. There’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for the start of the season, though initial reports have been encouraging. The Colts’ defense will depend heavily on Leonard’s return, especially with Bobby Okerek departing in free agency. During his first four seasons, Leonard was a versatile and playmaking whirlwind. If Leonard doesn’t return to being a star linebacker, their hopes of an above-average defense will take a hit.
best case scenario
This past season was a strange one for the Colts, and not just because of the interim coach pick. Jonathan Taylor and Shaquille Leonard, two excellent ball players, have been injured for most of the season. Other top players like guard Quinton Nelson and receiver Michael Pittman Jr. have had unexpected seasons. (Bateman could blame the quarterback around him, and Nelson wasn’t the only offensive lineman who was off his career bases.) The QB was about as bad as you’ll find in the modern NFL. But the Colts still have talent. The Colts were favored to win the division last season and were one of three teams to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals were the other two. A lot is necessary, however, if players like Taylor, Leonard and Nelson rebound to the All-Pro level, if Shane Steichen’s offensive proficiency with the Eagles is spot on and if Anthony Richardson’s outstanding physical skill leads to him being a productive quarterback. Right away, the Colts could vie for the division title. That’s what was expected last season, after all.
The Colts foundation around the starting quarterback position looked strong prior to last season. There are a lot of questions about some of the former All-Pro players heading into this season. Also, the Colts lead with an unknown coach and a huge wild card in the middle. Obviously the focus is on developing Anthony Richardson this season. It’ll be a while before we know if Richardson hits, but you never want to draft a quarterback that high and watch him struggle through a terrible rookie season. If Richardson is bad or doesn’t play as much because he’s so late, and some of those other superstars just don’t bounce back to what they’ve been, the Colts might just take another step back. This is hard to believe after such a rotten 2022.
crystal ball says…
I want to be more confident in the Colts, most of whom have written off 2022 as a strange season where everything went wrong. But there are a lot of questions to make it even higher in the rankings. I think Anthony Richardson is going to be a really good player, but it could take some time. The rest of the support team is a mystery. So does Shane Steichen, although this sounds like a good hire. I will say the Colts are suffering from another losing season, but if Richardson is special early on, that could change.
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