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Grading Steichen: Week 13 @Titans

Sweeping the Titans in his first year as a Colts’ head-coach is a good way to win over the fanbase.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

The offense struggled once again on Sunday, and the number I find especially concerning is that they are 10 of 38 on third downs the last three games. Now without Jonathan Taylor, the offense struggled even more against a Titans’ defense that has been unspectacular this season. The uneducated eye might look at the 31 points and think it was a good game, but keep in mind seven of those came from a blocked punt returned to he house, and special teams gave the Colts the ball back in the Titans’ 4-yard line and they failed to pound it in.

The Colts offense with Minshew is mostly either a fluid drive where everything clicks, a three and out, or a mind boggling turnover. There is the occasional deep play, or some sort of trickery like the play to Kylen Granson, but the ball is mostly thrown behind the sticks. There is only so much Steichen is able to do with Minshew, and he probably was expecting to be running an offense with a 6’5’’ quarterback with a rocket for an arm that runs a 4.4, but I don’t really like how the Colts are still a passing team. I have heard the argument that “Teams force the Colts to beat them through the air” countless times, and I still believe they should run the ball more.

It is still worth mentioning the wizarding that Steichen is doing with a limited supported cast and an offense missing two of their most important players. It still feels like the Colts will just find a way to put up more than 20 points on offense every single game, and that is a big step up from where we were last season, and I can’t wait for next year to see what he has prepared for Anthony Richardson.

Defense / Special Teams

Speaking of handicapped and losing players, the work that Gus Bradley has done with this defense is also nothing short of impressive. Lost his top three cornerbacks, his run-stopping defensive tackle was suspended six games, the All-Pro linebacker and vocal leader of the unit was not playing well and ended up releases, and still, the Colts put together a viable defense on the field.
I say viable because the defense is not impressive by any means, but they are keeping things together, and considering how thin they were at certain positions and the amount of injuries sustained I think that is worth some credit. There is also a favorable remaining schedule coming up for the defense, and Grover Stewart and Julius Brents should be back by next week, which would be huge boosts for the defense.

The special teams unit stole the day on Sunday, and they deserve plenty of recognition. Everything was perfect, not only the two blocked punts, one even returned for a touchdown, but punter Rigoberto Sanchez had his best game of the season, Matt Gay was perfect on the day, kickoff coverage was impeccable, and Isaiah McKenzie had a good game returning a kickoff 36-yards and solid overall in punt returning.

Overall: B +

This was a wild game, and one that is very difficult to judge. I am still digesting the rollercoaster of emotions it was, and it is always nice beating the Titans. Another solid game called by Steichen, who continues to be limited by poor quarterback play, Bradley did the best with what he had, and it was special teams who stole the day.