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PFF ranks Colts O-line third-best in NFL

Gardner Minshew was one of five quarterbacks – who attempted at least 10 passes in Week 10 – to not have been sacked.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Indianapolis Colts attempt ‘tush push’ at the goal line against the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park — November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Photo by Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/Getty Images

Colts head coach Shane Steichen must carry the time stone in the thumb of his infinity gauntlet.

Indianapolis’ 10-6 win over New England in Germany Sunday showcased an ability to emerge victorious in an ugly, low-scoring international affair. The Colts gave up a season-low in points and did not allow a touchdown for the first time this season.

Gardner Minshew was one of five quarterbacks – who attempted at least 10 passes in Week 10 – to not have been sacked. Only Minnesota’s mid-season panacea Joshua Dobbs (3.89 seconds) averaged more time to throw than Minshew (3.42 seconds) on Sunday. On throws of 20-plus yards, no other gunslinger was given more time to dance in the pocket than Minshew.

Indianapolis’ offensive line has been more than formidable, allowing just 22 sacks in 10 games. The Colts have attacked the ground to score 13 rushing touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL this season. Pro Football Focus ranked the Colts offensive line the third-best in the NFL on Wednesday ahead of Week 11. Only Detroit and Baltimore remained atop each conference, ranking in the top two spots for best o-line unit.

Quenton Nelson returned to his true form and led all guards with a 87.6 pass block grade in Week 10, bouncing back from his worst performance, scoring a season-low 49.1 pass block grade and career-low 33.6 run block grade during the Week 9 road win over Carolina. Among guards, Nelson holds the sixth-highest score with a 77.3 pass block grade this season. On 407 snaps blocking in pass protection, Nelson has allowed just one sack and three QB hits.

Both of Indianapolis’ tackles, Bernhard Raimann (82.2 – fourth) and Braden Smith (81.1 – seventh), scored among the top-10 o-linemen during Week 10 in terms of overall offensive grade. Raimann holds the ninth-highest score among tackles with an 80.8 pass block grade this season.

Ryan Kelly leads all centers with a 79.2 pass block grade and holds the fourth-highest run block grade at 81.6. Kelly has yet to allow a sack or any pressures in 301 pass sets.

Indianapolis’ first-year head coach understands the dead zone and is not afraid to gamble in four-down territory. Steichen has elected to go for it on fourth down 18 times, which is tied for the fourth most attempts in the NFL. The Colts have converted 8-of-18 fourth down opportunities.

“I think there is some good, there’s some things we need to clean up,” Steichen told reporters during Tuesday’s zoom call. “Just the consistency of what we are doing it at. I think the biggest thing for us moving forward is playing complementary football week in and week out in all three phases. We can’t have lulls on one side of the ball, or the other side of the ball.”

Despite entering the bye week outside of the AFC playoff race looking in, Steichen believes the Colts (5-5) are “in the thick of it” and can make a run to clinch the first postseason berth since 2020.