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Knee-jerk reactions: Colts lose third straight game behind ugly defensive showing

Indianapolis has now lost its third straight game, as the team fell to New Orleans 38-27 on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts lost their third straight game on Sunday, falling to the New Orleans Saints 38-27. It was a rough outing for the Colts’ defense, and that’s putting it nicely. The Colts, now 3-5 on the 2023 season, will look ahead to their Week 9 road matchup against the Carolina Panthers.


Indianapolis’ defense was abysmal on Sunday against a Saints’ offense that had struggled to create explosive plays on offense for much of the season. For a second straight game, Indy’s defense surrendered 30 or more points in a loss, and their secondary, which has been depleted with injuries at the cornerback position, is a massive problem.

In total, the Colts’ defense surrendered 511 total yards of offense and allowed the Saints march up and down the field for much of Sunday’s contest. Saints’ quarterback Derek Carr went 19-of-27 for 310 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 11.5 yards per pass attempt. Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed had 153 receiving yards on just three catches, including a 58-yard touchdown reception. Wideouts’ Michael Thomas and Chris Olave also got in the action, as Thomas had four catches for 68 yards and Olave had five receptions for 46 yards. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner had an early strip sack of Carr that Indianapolis’ offense would eventually cash in on, giving them 17-7 lead. But the rest of the Colts’ defensive front was as quiet as a mouse all game long.

New Orleans also rushed for 161 total yards and three touchdowns, two of which came from quarterback Taysom Hill and the other from running back Alvin Kamara. There’s no question the Colts’ defensive front misses Grover Stewart, and his absence certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed in each of the last two games. A non-existent pass rush coupled with a secondary that really struggled to hold its own against a talented Saints’ receiving corps caused Indianapolis’ defense fits all afternoon long. In the offseason, there were chances for the Colts to address the cornerback spot, especially after trading away veteran Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, Indianapolis opted to take a gamble with a much younger and inexperienced secondary, and with the injuries that unit has faced throughout the season, the depth they chose to rely on has cost them in spots over the course of the season.


Offensively, the Gardner Minshew-led Colts were fairly productive against another top-end defense, racking up 377 total yards of offense. It was far from perfect day for Minshew, however, who went just 23-of-41 for 213 yards with two touchdowns with one interception. At times, the veteran did make some plays to help keep Indianapolis’ offense afloat in key situations throughout the game, including the scramble drill, 33-yard touchdown pass to tight end Drew Ogletree. But the 5.2 yards per pass attempt for Minshew is certainly an ugly number, and the interception he threw inside the red zone is one he’d like to have back.

Overall, Minshew had a fairly average day through the air, but his turnovers have become a real issue for the Colts’ offense. Minshew’s lone interception on Sunday came at a really awful time for Indianapolis, as they were inside the red zone and could’ve come away with at least three points, which would have given them a one-point lead late in the third quarter. There was really no need for Minshew to force the issue in that situation, and as a veteran who has plenty of starts under his belt, you can’t make those kinds of backbreaking mistakes, especially since New Orleans cashed the turnover in for a touchdown and extended their lead 28-20. In total, Minshew has committed eight costly turnovers that have led to points for the opposing team each time, which is far too many and is something the Colts have to try and help him get under control.

Both Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss had strong performances Sunday, combining for 161 yards and a touchdown. However, there are some who question whether Taylor (12 rushes, 95 yards) was utilized enough after such a strong start in the first half. Let’s be sure to give credit where it’s due. Colts’ head coach Shane Steichen is getting all he can out of his offense, especially considering Indianapolis is still the only team to have scored 20 or more points in every game this season. That’s nothing short of exceptional, given that the Colts’ offense has had to run through two different quarterbacks throughout points this season. But there’s an argument to be made that Taylor should have been given more touches throughout the rest of the game Sunday. Despite a 27-point performance from Indy’s offense, it just simply wasn’t enough to overcome some of the deficiencies from their defense.