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Steichen’s Best/Worst Decisions: Week 8 vs. Saints

New Orleans Saints v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Best Decisions

Involvement of rookies Josh Downs and Jaylon Jones

I really like what the Colts are doing with their two standout rookies this season, wide receiver Josh Downs and cornerback Jaylon Jones. Downs had a high chance of starting before the season started as the team was already high on him then, with Reggie Wayne calling him the best wide receiver in this draft class, but Jones was a seventh rounder and probably a longshot to even see the field at all this year. Instead, the Colts are relying a lot on both of them, with Downs the second favourite target in this passing offense and Jones basically earning the #1 cornerback spot in Brents’ abscence, and will surely still be starting even after Brents returns.

First half offensive gameplan

The Colts continued their streak of scoring at least 20 points in every single game this season, and they managed to do so in just the first half. Minshew looked confident, Moss/Taylor were doing their thing with ease, MPJ scored a touchdown, and Josh “First” Downs was moving the chains on seemingly every third down. That is clearly the way Steichen wants the offense to work with Gardner Minshew under center for the rest of the season.

Worst Decisions

Failing to adress cornerback position after Rodgers’ suspension

Now I get it that when you have your 8th cornerback on the depth chart playing that is never a good thing, and the Colts had an absurd amount of bad luck on this position particularly, the one position where the depth was just not there. But Rodgers’ suspension came before the preseason even started, and the Colts were relying on Flowers / Brents / Rush/ Baker Jr./ Jones to take over the outside cornerback spots. Flowers, Brents, and Jones worked out, and Ballard deserves credit for that, but failing to be pro-active in the face of a calamitous disaster is never a good call. I get that you don’t want to take away snaps from the younger players, but one could argue that if the Colts had a viable option there at cornerback they don’t allow 38 points to the New Orleans Saints.

Having Brown one-on-one with Shaheed late in the game on key 3rd down

After three quarters of seeing Brown getting toasted by Carr and whoever he was covering, Bradley should have taken notes and tried to help/hide the special teams’ ace who is definitely not a cornerback. Instead, on the most important play of the game, in 3rd and 13 on the Saints’ 30-yard line with the Colts down by one score, Brown was left one-on-one with speedster Raheem Shaheed (who had burnt Brown earlier in the game). The result? Shaheed once again got past Brown and caught a 51-yard pass, burning more of the clock and putting the Saints in field goal range to end the game.

Second half offensive gameplan, just one touch for Jonathan Taylor

After putting up 20 in the first half the Colts got just 7 after halftime, and they came on a play where Minshew had to escape the pocket and throw into double-coverage to Andrew Ogletree who made an amazing catch. After Zack Moss’ 41-yard run that put the Colts in field goal range before Minshew’s interception, the Colts passed the ball 17 consecutive times, with no run calls. Jonathan Taylor was looking hot in the first half, yet he saw only one carry in the second. My hypothesis here, and the only logical explanation I find for it is that Steichen knows this season is lost and the Colts are not making the playoffs, so he is not trying to wear down the Colts’ superstar running back, who was also just extended, on a season where the Colts are not competing.