After 10 weeks of play, the Indianapolis Colts look like they desperately need a break.
Maybe it was jet lag, maybe it was fatigue from 10 straight weeks of football, but regardless, the Colts and their offense looked completely out of sorts in their 10-6 win over the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany. Indy was fortunate that they were facing this diminished version of the Patriots, who’s offense was somehow even more inept than the Colts was.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew has had an up-and-down season since he took over for the injured Anthony Richardson. The last 2 games especially have been concerning; against the Panthers, he was held to 127 yards passing with 1 touchdown, while against the Patriots he went 18 of 24 for 194 yards and 1 interception.
The stats don’t tell the full story; in both games, Minshew seemed to struggle getting the ball downfield, more than sual. He also had another turnover against the Patriots, something he has struggled with this season since entering the starting role. Against New England, he also continued to display a bad habit of bailing on the pocket early, even when there is no pressure.
Of course, it’s not all Minshew. The Colts offense overall has taken a step back the last two weeks. Against the Panthers, the offense only generated 13 points and 198 total yards; the Colts would’ve been in a bad spot had Kenny Moore not taken two interceptions to the house. Against the Patriots, those offensive woes continued, with 10 points and 264 total yards.
Defensively, there have also been some concerning signs.
While the pass rush dominated the Patriots front in Germany, the play of linebacker Shaquille Leonard is something to keep an eye on. He has been more active in recent weeks, and had 9 total tackles against the Patriots, but he doesn’t seem like himself. On back-to-back plays, Patriots running back Ezekial Elliott made Leonard miss, and miss badly; pre-injury Leonard would have blown those plays up, perhaps even caused a turnover.
Leonard has voiced his frustrations with his role in Gus Bradley’s defense, and maybe there is something to be said for how the Colts utilize him. Plays like the two mentioned above however, make one feel like we might be watching the end of Leonard’s time in Indianapolis, barring some sort of major (and unlikely) renegotiation of his contract.
Despite how ugly the win was, it was still a win. The Colts now go into their bye week at .500, and still alive in the wild card hunt. Almost all of their remaining games appear winnable on paper. Now is the perfect time for them to rest up, recharge, and examine what it is they need to improve on, especially on offense.
During Monday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to Stephen Holder of ESPN. Stephen spoke about if Minshew needs the break and the rest that comes with it.
“He needs the rest physically and mentally… He needs some of that. Whatever it is that works for him, because this guy, his happy feet are driving me crazy. Like bro, settle down. The protection is fine. Relax.”
Stephen also spoke about Shaquille Leonard, and his future here in Indianapolis.
“I’ve been very much of the opinion, like alright give it time, let’s see, there’s no harm in letting it play out. Even while acknowledging that hasn’t played great, like that is totally fine. Both things can be true, right? Now, all of that being said, I thought yesterday was a huge step backward. That was a bad game. That was as bad as I’ve ever seen him play, and I don’t know where you go from here. I mean, that was bad.”
Click here to JMV’s full conversation with Stephen Holder below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan!
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