Chris Ballard had a nice offseason in 2023, from a big draft led by Anthony Richardson to a pretty active signing class led by Gardner Minshew, Samson Ebukam and Matt Gay. Those additions have had large contributions and are the main reason as to why the Colts are currently 3-2.
Minshew, at a 3.5M cap hit, might be the best value free agent signing in the entire NFL. In 3 appearances this season (two in relief and one start), Minshew has gone 57/83 (68.7%), for 553 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions, and more importantly he has led the Colts to 3 wins. His steady play as a game manager has been exactly what the Colts offense has needed, coupled with a good running game. He hits his guys on time, is accurate with the ball and moves the ball effectively down the field. He is reliable and the best backup in the NFL.
Gay was given a massive contract for a kicker before the season started and he’s been worth every penny so far. He’s 9/10 on the season (including 4 kicks over 50 yards) and has made every extra point. Moreover, he singlehandedly won the Colts the Ravens game making 5 field goals, with 4 of them being over 50 yards. Without Gay, the Colts are 2-3 right now.
In 5 games this season, Ebukam has tallied 3 sacks and 6 quarterback hits on top of 16 tackles (4 for loss) and a forced fumble. According to Pro Football Focus, he has a total of 12 pressures and only plays about 60% of the total defensive snaps. Chris Ballard loves depth along the defensive line and you can’t ask for a much better rotation right now and it’s because of guys like Ebukam stepping up right away. Having that type of depth will pay big dividends later in the season.
2023 Draft Class
Anthony Richardson has had a great start to his NFL career, despite the multiple injuries, and has had played a big role in these wins. I’ve written previous articles on his play, good and bad, so no point in going in detail on him, but he has been a net positive so far and is flashing a ton of potential.
Juju Brent is getting better every week and had his best performance against the Titans. His big size and athleticism have been on display and he’s done well against all types of receivers (smaller ones against Baltimore and bigger ones against Titans).
Josh Downs has had a nice impact in the slot and already has over 250 yards receiving in 5 games and is on pace for 867 yards and 78 catches, which is fantastic for a rookie. He is a good route runner and has reliable hands.
Minshew and Gay are the two headliners of the group, as they are the ones that have contributed the most to the wins through 5 weeks. Richardson and the rookies have been great and also have played a big part in the win. All these additions reflect well on Chris Ballard, who had struggled the last few years trying to find a quarterback to get the Colts back to the playoffs. This current unit is performing well and might be good enough to make the playoffs, and if it does, it’ll be thanks to Ballard’s work.