Grover Stewart is currently on the back half of a six game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy regarding PEDs. The Indianapolis Colts have felt every bit of it through the first four games of his suspension as they are finding it incredibly difficult to fill the void that his 6-4, 314 pound frame has left in the middle of the defense. The wrecking crew that he and DeForest Buckner created made it extremely difficult for opposing running backs to find much wiggle room when running between the tackles. Those opposing running backs are now finding sizable running lanes.
Colts run defense…— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) November 13, 2023
In 6 games with Grover Stewart:
113 yards per game
3.7 yards per carry
In 4 games without Grover Stewart:
154 yards per game
4.7 yards per carry
To see his lack of his presence, look no further than last Sunday against the Patriots. The team allowed 167 yards on the ground while making players like Ezekiel Elliot look like he turned back to the clock to his prime Cowboys days. It wasn’t just the amount, however, that was startling. It was how the Patriots ran the ball. It was straight up the gut, and Colts defenders barely made contact until they reached the second level. Anytime your defensive backs are having to step up in the run game to make tackles, it is going to be a long game.
Stewart has two more games remaining on his suspension. He will remain out against the Buccaneers and Titans. Every game at this point is extremely important, and his inability to be out there with his teammates will be felt. I fear what Derrick Henry will look like with no one to stop him in the middle when this team travels to Nashville. Perhaps, the bye week will allow others to rest and recover so they will be more effective in stopping the run. If not, possessions will be limited for the Colts as they will struggle to get the ball back and control the clock.
I am sure the list of banned substances is long and possibly confusing, but it is on the players to know and understand the rules. Stewart has taken accountability for his actions which is good, but his lack of availability is still hurting the team. Hopefully, they can contain running backs without him for two more games. Upon his return, I expect him to step up and return to his old run-stuffing form.