INDIANAPOLIS – A second straight home game awaits the Colts in Week 8.
It’s a pair of 3-4 teams in the Colts and Saints meeting this Sunday for a 1:00 PM kickoff.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts first practice of the week:
- Jim Irsay had a couple of updates he shared late on Tuesday night. The first was a successful right shoulder surgery for Anthony Richardson on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Irsay wrote this on X about Richardson’s surgery: “Anthony Richardson’s surgery today in LA was a success! It was a long procedure and his shoulder injury has been repaired. No new surprises were found during surgery – they just repaired what was expected. Anthony is doing well and thanks everyone for the support. (There is presently no date for his return.)” For what it’s worth, Shane Steichen said last week there’s a “good chance” Richardson would be ready for the team’s 2024 spring offseason program. Steichen added on Monday that Richardson will do a little bit of his rehab initially in LA, before returning to the team facility for the rest of the rehab.
- Irsay also had this to share about the officiating late in Sunday’s loss to the Browns: The NFL admits and understands that they did not make the correct calls at end of Sunday’s Colts/Browns Game. I believe we need to institute Instant Replay for all calls, including Penalties, in the last two minutes of All Games. Unlike the NBA, the NFL does not release a “two-minute report” going over calls from late in a game, and stating which were right/wrong. But Irsay felt the need to share the findings. Does Steichen agree with what the Owner had to say? “I’ll just say that you guys know the answer probably to that,” the head coach said on Wednesday, “and we got to move on.” Personally, I think the NFL should have more public accountability for officials, although it does very little to lessen the sting of what happened at the end of last Sunday’s one-point loss to the Browns.
- Michael Pittman Jr. wanted to clarify some post-game comments he had on Sunday about not getting the ball enough (Pittman Jr. had 5 targets and 2 catches against the Browns). Head here for video of Pittman Jr.’s comments on Wednesday. To me, in the heat of the moment, this was MPJ commenting after another loss, and a continued trend of new quarterbacks throwing him the ball.
- Shane Steichen shared on Wednesday that CB-JuJu Brents (quad) will not practice on Wednesday. Brents is expected to miss some game time. Any time away from the field is unfortunate for Brents. No Colts defender has missed more practice time this year than Brents, as he was sidelined for nearly the first 20 practices of the offseason/training camp. Life without Brents creates quite the challenge, too. Personally, I think exploring Kenny Moore as an outside corner, and playing more 3 linebackers on the field (which would mean more E.J. Speed) is something to look into. If you go to 3 cornerbacks on the field, you are getting into some riskier personnel in adding another cornerback (Darrell Baker Jr.? Tony Brown? Ameer Speed?).
- The Colts added former 2nd round pick DT-Ross Blacklock to the practice squad on Tuesday. Is that a sign DT-Eric Johnson II (ankle) could miss some time? Johnson was the defensive tackle who played the most in filling in for Grover Stewart. He saw 31 defensive snaps on Sunday, with a half tackle. Taven Bryan started but played 19 snaps, without recording a tackle. Stewart’s absence lasts another 5 games.
- Are we looking at a third straight missed game for RT-Braden Smith? Shane Steichen said that Smith will not be practicing on Wednesday, as hip/wrist issues continue to sideline the veteran right tackle.
- Second-year tight end Jelani Woods has been on injured reserve for the entire season, having aggravated a spring hamstring injury during training camp. Shane Steichen said on Wednesday that Woods is “getting closer” to making his 2023 practice debut. For a player many pegged as a potential breakout guy in 2023, it’s been quite the bummer for Woods to have missed nearly half of the season so far.
- The Colts have had two different starting QBs, several different injuries to their offensive line, no Jonathan Taylor for 4 games and yet still have achieved scoring consistency like no other team this season. The Colts are the only team in the NFL to have scored at least 20 points in every game this year. Yes, Shane Steichen knows what he is doing offensively. It’s quite the compliment to Steichen for this feat. Steichen credited a consistent amount of explosive plays, in both the run and pass game, as a reason why they’ve maintained a nice scoring pace.
- The Colts defense has a problem closing games, especially out at home. This past Sunday marked the 4th time in the 12 months the Colts have given up a 75-yard (or longer) game-winning touchdown drive in the final two minutes. And all 4 of those losses have been by 1 point. Taylor Heinicke led the Commanders on a 9-play 89-yard game-winning TD drive against the Colts last October. A few weeks later, Jalen Hurts led the Eagles on an 11-play 75-yard game-winning TD drive against the Colts. In the 2022 season finale, Davis Mills and the lowly Texans went 83 yards in 14 plays, with a game-winning two-point conversion to follow that TD drive. And then you had P.J. Walker leading the Browns on a 12-play 80-yard game-winning TD drive last week. This is a brutal run by Gus Bradley’s defense in trying to end games, with 3 of those 4 quarterbacks being current backups. Despite playing at home with the crowd noise alive and well, the Colts have been unable to seal these victories, with too quiet of a pass rush often being a staple in these TD drives leading to 1-point losses. It’s a massive reason why the Colts are just 1-8 in their last 9 home games.
- An interesting note for this Sunday’s Colts and Saints matchup: the combination of Gardner Minshew as starting QB and Shane Steichen as play caller did face Saints defensive play caller (and head coach) Dennis Allen late last season. Minshew and Steichen were with the Eagles then, of course. Philly scored a season-low 10 points in that Week 17 loss to the Saints last season. Minshew went 18-of-32 for 274 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and 2 fumbles. Steichen said on Monday he thinks it’s beneficial for Minshew having seen that Allen-coached Saints defense last year.
- Shane Steichen’s first NFL season brings handling different psyches on a weekly basis. The psyche this week is dealing with a losing streak for the first time in his career as head coach. The Colts have lost back-to-back games, and sit at 3-4. Such a streak growing would get this season moving further away from playoff chances. How will they respond?
- The Colts have 3 games left before their bye: Saints (3-4), at Panthers (0-6) vs. Patriots (2-5) in Germany. On paper, it’s a very manageable stretch for a schedule that’s the 4th easiest the rest of the way, based off opponent records. If the Colts are going to be in a playoff hunt come November/December, they can’t squander this 3-game stretch leading into the bye week.
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