What a rough, tantalizing, forlorn past three days in Indianapolis.
Who walked under a ladder, broke a mirror, stepped on a crack or let their damn black cat roam the streets on Friday the 13th?
The Colts road losing streak in Jacksonville reached nine consecutive games on Sunday. Colts owner Jim Irsay told ESPN’s Stephen Holder on Monday that Anthony Richardson will ‘probably’ undergo shoulder surgery before month-end and miss the rest of his rookie season. To make matters worse, an NFL spokesperson released a statement Tuesday to announce defensive tackle Grover Stewart has been suspended six games without pay for violating league policy regarding performance-enhancing substances.
Gardner Minshew will command the offense Sunday in his first home start at Lucas Oil Stadium as the Colts host the Cleveland Browns, who allow the lowest completion percentage (51.9%) and the fewest passing yards per game (121.4) in the NFL. Minshew dropped back 60 times in his return to Jacksonville and completed just 5-of-15 throws more than 20-yards downfield. The fifth-year veteran made seven turnover-worthy plays, which was the worst among QBs in Week 6.
Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter is primed for Sunday’s challenge against the defense allowing a league-best 3.8 yards per play. Opponents have converted just 15-of-65 third downs against the Browns, which is the lowest percentage (23%) in the NFL. Through Week 6, Cleveland allows the fewest opposing total yards per game (200.4) than any defense over the last 40 NFL seasons.
“It’s huge, Cleveland is playing excellent defense,” Cooter said. “They are playing great football, they are making it really tough on offenses to move the ball and score points. They are going to make you earn every yard, every first down, every third down conversion.”
Despite missing the season opener and totaling just 21 rushing yards in the rematch, Zack Moss ranks second in the NFL with 466 rushing yards. Moss has forced 23 missed tackles – fifth-most in the NFL – and 59% of his rushing yards come after contact. His 13 carries of 10-plus yards and 26 first downs are tied for the second-most in the NFL.
“To hand the ball to a good player and have him make a few extra yards, maybe, after that first contact is important,” Cooter said. “In this league, we are looking for every single edge and we are drawing up all these cool plays, but sometimes all these cool plays, you just let Zack Moss make a guy miss, right, or Jonathan Taylor or any of our guys. Those are good football plays, too, and Zack has been doing a heck of a job out there.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis has the fifth-lowest pass grade (54.4) and the worst run grade (51.4) in the NFL. Ryan Kelly scored the highest PFF pass block grade among all centers in Week 6 and leads his position with an 86.7 pass block grade this season. Quenton Nelson has played 418 snaps – tied for the most snaps at left guard – and his 81.1 pass block grade is the highest among all qualifying guards this season.
The Colts will premiere their ‘Indiana Nights’ uniform in Week 7 against the Browns, aiming to earn a win in consecutive home games for the first time since Week 10 in 2021.