According to NFL.com’s Adam Rank in his ‘state of the 2023 Indianapolis Colts’, among other highlights, he believes that the franchise must develop rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson for the upcoming season to be considered successful:
For 2023 to be a success, the Colts MUST:
Develop Anthony Richardson. Don’t get me wrong: If you’re a fan of the Colts, you want to make the playoffs. Go crazy! You want to make a little run like the 2022 Jaguars did. That is the goal for this season, sure. As I’ve alluded to, the AFC South isn’t exactly loaded these days, so nothing’s out of the question. But in the bigger picture — and in a QUARTERBACK LEAGUE — Richardson’s long-term development is everything. Colts fans look at how Shane Steichen developed Jalen Hurts — who just finished second in the MVP race and nearly outdueled Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl — and think big. Which is fine. But that didn’t happen overnight. This is Year 1 of the Steichen-Richardson era in Indy. Growing pains will come, but establishing a steady upward trend would be a major achievement after the 2022 debacle.
He’s not exactly wrong either.
The long-term success of the Colts franchise depends on the continued growth and development of top rookie quarterback prospect, Anthony Richardson, who was selected with the fourth overall pick in this year’s recent NFL Draft. Richardson has the high-end physical tools, athleticism, and makeup to eventually be an elite starting quarterback in the NFL, if it all truly clicks.
New Colts head coach Shane Steichen’s primary task will be ensuring that Richardson is placed in a position to succeed, properly coached, and allowed to mature at his own pace—with consistent improvement but having initial patience for mistakes and growing pains.
He’s had past experience coaching both the Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert and the Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts—which is some valuable experience to draw upon, now mentoring Richardson with the Colts offensively.
Make no mistake about it though.
The success of Richardson is of the utmost importance, not just for the results on the football field, because the Colts will be drafting early again in the draft a handful of years from now, looking for a quarterback if this pick doesn’t actually hit, but because jobs will ultimately be on the line from general manager Chris Ballard and his front office staff to maybe even Shane Steichen and his new coaching staff—if Richardson proves to be a flop.
Rank does bring up a solid point about the Colts though, trying to be this year’s plucky Jacksonville Jaguars with a young quarterback and new head coaching staff—and making a surprise AFC playoff push. The AFC South isn’t exactly a strong division collectively, and the Colts narrowly lost six games last season by one score or less (*and even tied another).
With improved head coaching (i.e., Colts fans won’t forget the Jeff Saturday era anytime soon), as well as starting quarterback and offensive line play, not to mention, getting some of their stars back to formidable form such as: Jonathan Taylor, Shaquille Leonard, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Kenny Moore II, etc., and it’s not impossible that the Colts could be something of an AFC darkhorse this upcoming season.
At the very least, this horse shouldn’t be quite written off for dead—and ensuring Richardson’s growth and development goes hand-in-hand with a successful season.