The Indianapolis Colts lost their third straight game, as the defense has surrendered at least 37 points each game during that same span—joining some not so great company in franchise history.
There’s plenty of blame to go around collectively among the Colts defense.
Playing against a soft zone defense with next to zero pass pressure (*with just one sack on the afternoon), new Saints quarterback Derek Carr looked closer to Drew Brees against Indianapolis—as they made a closer to average starting NFL quarterback look great, yet again.
Certainly self-sabotaging their defensive efforts was the inexplicable decision to not only start key special teamer Tony Brown at outside cornerback, but to keep playing him the entire game—even after it was initially clear the required moment was entirely too big for him that day:
Colts CB Tony Brown as the nearest defender today: 7 receptions allowed on 7 targets for 187 yards and a touchdown over 27 coverage snaps. Per @NextGenStats.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 29, 2023
I’m not going to pile it on Brown either.
He’s on the 53-man active roster as a cornerback lower on the depth chart because of his ability to contribute on special teams. Having him play not just limited, but extended snaps at outside cornerback, as the Week 8 first-team starter, speaks to a failure of both the coaching staff and front office in correctly doing their jobs.
I get it too.
The Colts are about down to their ‘fifth-string cornerback’ too, but it’s not like those losses happened and/or this situation presented itself overnight.
- The Colts released Isaiah Rodgers due to violating the league’s policy on gambling in late June.
- The Colts lost starting cornerback Dallis Flowers to a season-ending Achilles injury in early October.
- The Colts knew they’d be without starting cornerback Julius Brents (quad) since early last week.
After any of those three subtractions, what did the Colts do to attempt to reinforce their depleted cornerback depth?
I’m not asking for the reincarnation of Stephon Gilmore either, just someone who can largely hold their own playing heavy zone coverage in Indianapolis.
The Colts once brought in a veteran like Xavier Rhodes to help a young cornerback room. This go around, they did nothing, and it’s now cost them in two straight losses.
I remember former free agent Kareem Hunt visiting the Colts during starting running back Jonathan Taylor’s extended stay on PUP, but I don’t remember hearing anything about then fellow free agent Marcus Peters once Rodgers was suspended and later released.
Maybe some fans are okay with this because the Colts are ‘sinking or swimming’ and going with the kids purely at starting cornerback—and there’s no sense in having a veteran ‘steal’ meaningful developmental reps (*although I’d question whether Brown, who just ‘ate some reps,’ is a potential long-term answer regardless).
Worst case, the Colts are setting themselves up for more favorable draft position come late April of next year, with their playoff hopes already realistically shattered as soon as starting rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson went down for the season.
However, I just have a hard time believing that: A) this is realistically putting a player in the best position to succeed, and B) the Colts are putting their best foot forward to try to competitively win football games right now.