All eyes were on rookie QB Anthony Richardson when the Colts made their preseason debut against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
For the most part, Richardson handled himself well. He threw a bad interception on his first drive, but rebounded nicely and led 2 long drives, while making several good throws and showcasing his athleticism along the way. Most importantly, he didn’t look overwhelmed. The Colts ran a lot of no-huddle during Richardson’s time on the field, and he seemed in command and comfortable while doing so.
Outside of Richardson however, what other players or position groups stood out? Let’s take a look at which players got their 2023 season off to a good start, and who got noticed for the wrong reasons.
Deon Jackson – Jackson, suddenly thrust into the starting lineup with Jonathan Taylor’s contract dispute and Zack Moss’s broken arm, did well with his limited touches. In 6 carries, he picked up 35 yards for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. He may not be Taylor, but his performance was an encouraging sign for a team who’s running back situation is in flux.
Gardner Minshew – Minshew came in to replace Richardson, and was immediately eaten up by the Bills defensive front on 2 straight plays. After that, he settled in and completed all 6 of his passes, as he led the Colts down the field for a touchdown as the 1st half expired. If all goes according to plan, Minshew won’t see a single snap during the regular season, but his performance on Saturday is reassuring if he does end up taking the field when the games start counting.
Offensive Line Starters – It was a small sample size, and there were some mistakes, but overall Saturday was a solid outing for the Colts much criticized starting offensive line. Richardson was kept mostly clean in the pocket, and it was a notable improvement from their performance in the Colts first preseason game last year. Right guard is still a concern, but it was a good first step for a group looking for redemption in 2023.
Darius Rush – Getting a pick-6 in your first taste of NFL action is certainly one way to make an early name for yourself. Rush found himself in the right place at the right time, and took advantage. They won’t all be that easy, but when the play is there to be made, you have to make it. Rush made sure he did.
NOT SO GOOD
Pass Catchers – The Colts pass catchers didn’t cover themselves in glory on Saturday. Kylen Granson and Alec Pierce both dropped passes, with Pierce’s being especially egregious since it came off of a perfectly thrown deep shot by Richardson. Neither were easy catches, but they were catches NFL receivers are expected to make. Isaiah McKenzie notably had a miscommunication with Richardson on the rookie’s interception that McKenzie later took responsibility for, and he and rookie Josh Downs would make some questionable decision when fielding kickoffs, leading the offense being backed up deep in their own territory.
Matt Gay – The Colts most expensive free agent acquisition got off to a rocky start with his new team on a windy day in Buffalo. Gay missed a 28-yard field goal in the 1st quarter, hooking it wide-left. He did make his lone extra point attempt. While it was windy, and Gay has generally been one of the more reliable kickers in the league (hitting 93.3% of his attempts last season with the Rams), it wasn’t the most reassuring sight for Colts fans who have endured several seasons of up-and-down kicking.
Offensive Line Backups – While the starting offensive line had a decent outing, the same can’t be said for the backups. Gardner Minshew was under fire, getting sacked on back to back plays, and the unit struggled against Buffalo’s reserve defensive front. Based on their performance, the Colts better hope their starting front 5 stay healthy, or it could get ugly quick.
During Monday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to Stephen Holder of ESPN about the Colts preseason loss against the Bills. They went over who they thought played well and who didn’t, the performance of Anthony Richardson, and the ongoing contract dispute with Jonathan Taylor. Listen to that conversation and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan!
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