Last week saw the Colts dominate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for most of the day. Indy did it by playing a good game defensively and by having Shane Steichen design the offense. Steichen dialed up a ton of quick hitting concepts that got Gardner Minshew’s first read open. In watching Minshew this season, if nothing else, we’ve learned that Minshew thrives when his first read gets open. He tends to struggle when he has to work to his second and third read. If this sounds like a bad thing, well, I’ll let you make that judgement. I’m just telling you what I’ve seen on film when watching Minshew.
Many of those quick hitters were run-pass options (RPO’s) that were designed to exploit one of just a couple defenders and when you simplify the game to that degree and force the quarterback to make a quick decision based on the reaction of a single defender, Minshew shines. And I will make a judgement here and tell you that Minshew is really good when forced to make these near instant decisions. The Colts were able to make use of his ability in the RPO game and both the run and pass game were efficient, in no small part, because they played to Minshew’s strengths and the Buccaneers didn’t have many answers.
This week the question will be “Can Shane Steichen, Gardner Minshew, and the Colts offense make similar use of those quick hitting passing concepts against a good Titans defense?”. The reason that is the question is because on defense the Colts are giving up 148.2 rushing yards per game without Grover Stewart in the lineup. Week 12 was their best week against the run, giving up only 125 yards. But had the Bucs not been trailing multiple scores for the majority of the second half that number would have been far higher. Last week was their lowest rushing total without Grove and they still allowed 6.58 yards per rush to a Bucs team that’s averaging 3.3 yards per carry on the season, which is dead last in the NFL.
Derrick Henry and the Titans offense is struggling in every possible way but there’s a real chance he has a vintage Derrick Henry day against a porous Colts run defense. And if Derrick Henry gets going, the defense will be on it’s heels and Will Levis (who by my estimation only excels at throwing the deep ball) will have all day to throw- something he desperately needs in order to make plays.
So this game could turn into an unexpected, down to the wire, shootout.
Or the Colts could prove last week wasn’t an anomaly and roll over a bad Titans team.
This team, is as unpredictable of a Colts team as I can remember. Either way this season has been much more fun to watch than a season ago and I know Thanksgiving is over, but I’m still in the spirit. I’m thankful for the 2023 Colts.
This is your week thirteen open thread so hang out here, chat, celebrate, commiserate, and argue in the comments! Go wild (within reason)!