The Colts are coming off a devastating loss to the Tennessee Titans. That loss made the Colts’ organization panic, leading to Matt Ryan being benched for Sam Ehlinger. What was lost in the game was the performance of the defense. The Colts' defense only gave up 12 points to Tennessee. This week the defense will be tasked with trying to stop someone the city of Indianapolis knows very well, Terry McLaurin.
McLaurin was born in Indianapolis and attended Cathedral high school. He later attended Ohio State University, where the Washington Commanders would go on to be a 3rd round pick. The Colts selected a wide receiver from Ohio State in the second round of Parris Campbell's draft. Colts fans (unfairly) have compared the two players since they both were drafted. McLaurin, upon entering the league, despite having a different quarterback every year, has dominated and was rewarded with a 3-year extension worth 71 million dollars this past off-season.
McLaurin is currently having a down year with new quarterback Carson Wentz. They haven’t found that connection with Wentz choosing to target Curtis Samuel more and Jahan Dotson before he went down with an injury. Wentz broke a finger two weeks required surgery and landed him on Injured Reserve for the next four weeks, ruining his return to Lucas Oil. Taking the snaps now is a guy McLaurin does have chemistry with Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke, who started last year for the Commanders, has a great relationship with McLaurin and the two picked up right where they left off last week. McLaurin was targeted eight times for 73 yards and a touchdown for five catches.
What makes McLaurin so scary is that he can attack at all three levels. He has short-area quickness to attack at the first level through slants, drags, and even bubble screens. He also threatens you with his deep speed, but as a route technician, he’s able to beat you intermediate on backside digs, out routes, and comebacks. Here’s an example here.
To limit McLaurin, you must always keep four eyes on him. Whichever corner is matched up against him is gonna have to have help over the top from Blackmon/Thomas. Whoever has the single high safety role is likely to cheat to whichever side Terry is aligned on to give help in case he’s going deep. What works in the Colts' favor is Carson Wentz is not there to rip off some throws that take a lot of arm strength to make. While smarter and more accurate in short to intermediate areas, Heinicke doesn’t possess the arm strength to threaten a defense 40-50yds down the field. Whatever the Colts decide to do defensively, they need to plan for McLaurin, who will be looking to make an impact playing in front of his family and all the people he grew up with.