Week one is in the books and our Indianapolis Colts have played their first game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though things didn’t go the way we hoped it was great to have Colts football back and there were absolutely positives from the days activities. It’s important to remember teams that start rookie quarterbacks almost never win a lot of games and well, we might be on our way join the lot of teams who finish that way. But let’s take a look at the highs (and some of the lows) of the week and then it will be on to the Houston Texans in week two.
1 for 1
We’ll just get it out of the way Anthony Richardson finished 24-37 for 223 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also had 10 carries for 40 yards and another touchdown. He played as well as any rookie did this afternoon. In fact all three teams that took quarterbacks with top five picks, lost. The Colts were the only team of the three to score more than 10 points. But Richardson played like a rookie. He looked good, he looked bad, he looked young. It’s going to take time but there’s plenty to be excited about.
This Colts defense is a gift for a young QB
This was a consistent sight for much of the game. That said there’s only so much either side of the ball can do without help from the offense, eventually the dam will break and we’ll get to that later.
Josh Downs looked very promising.
Richardson and Downs connected early and often. Downs finished the game with just three catches for 30 yards but it seems like the foundation is there for the two to continue to produce for the rest of the season.
On the first play of the second quarter of his first NFL game, Anthony Richardson scored his first career touchdown. Nice play.
The defense really came to play
The Colts defensive line was in the backfield all day long and seemingly every positive play that happened could be directly attributed to them. As the offense comes along, this Colts team is going to be formidable over the second half of the season.
Kwity Paye with a sack
Paye made a couple of nice plays in this one and this was the first sack of the 2023 season for the Indianapolis Colts.
Richardson’s First Career TD Pass:
Haters are going to look at this and point out that his first touchdown came on a screen pass and his receiver did most of the work. And to that I say: yeah, so?
Sometimes it happens like that. Peyton Manning’s first touchdown was a six yard pass with less than 10 seconds left on the clock in a blowout. How and when it happened, really doesn’t matter. It happened. He threw a pass, he did his job and his teammates did their jobs, and when it was all said and done, it scored six points.
This has to be the craziest play of the day
So DeForest Buckner gets a strip sack, Jags running back Cartavious Bigsby picks up what everyone seemed to believe was a dead ball. Zaire Franklin, being one of like three players with a functioning brain on the field at that moment realized there was no whistle, came up and forced a second fumble on the same play by punching the ball out, then Buckner the guy who started this madness picks up the ball and decides if no one else is going to do it, he’ll just score a touchdown himself.
And just like that, the Colts were winning the game.
Of everything that happened today, this is the singular play that could be most blamed for the loss
A few plays later the Jags punched in a touchdown to take back a lead they wouldn’t give up.
Yes, this sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.
You hate to see it but in a way, it's good that he got his first one out of the way. First interception of Anthony Richardson's career.#Colts#Jags#INDvsJAX#ForTheShoe#DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/c5fPL4foCn— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 10, 2023
Anthony Richardson was given the ball, down by three with just over five minutes to go in the fourth quarter of his very first NFL game. We all would have liked this to have a storybook ending. We all had that thought, I know I did; “this kid’s going to march down the field and go get a win in his first NFL game”. But then reality set in.
The reality is, he just turned 21 years old. He only started 13 games in college. He had every excuse to go out and look completely lost and yet he made most of the plays he needed to make, most of the day. He looked like he belonged. He played as well as the other rookie quarterbacks, the same guys who were billed as “more ready to play” than him (don’t look now but Bryce Young went 20-38 for 146 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions).
The reality is, this isn’t a storybook. Anthony Richardson is further along than most people seemed to think (not me, but that’s not the point). He played well, he made mistakes, he did exactly what we all should have expected him to do. I get it, the game itself ended in a frustrating way, but in context, it went better than we should have expected.
If you apply pressure long enough, eventually the dam will break and it finally happened late in the fourth quarter. This touchdown put this one on ice for the Colts.
Final Thoughts on Week One
I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how conservative Shane Steichen’s offense was this week. A lot of people have pointed out that it was likely because he was protecting Richardson. While that might be true to an extent, the other part of it is the fact that the Jags defense lives with two safeties deep. They force opposing quarterbacks to take underneath throws. The coverages they use don’t just force rookie quarterbacks to take underneath routes, it’s the same type of coverage shell that Patrick Mahomes had so much trouble with (because he just didn’t want to take his check downs).
So the game plan was probably somewhat conservative but the Jags defense lives to limit the deep ball. They do some different things in other places but their overall philosophy to the deep ball is similar to the Matt Eberflus Colts defense- they just don’t want it to happen, ever.
Anthony Richardson missed some throws today. We knew he was going to. But he made the layups and played within the offense. He needs time. We need to be patient. The deep ball will come. So will the wins. There will be better days ahead and there will be far, far worse days too. Today was just the first day. The future looks bright, as long as we can convince Anthony to stop taking big shots. He’s big, he can take some but nobody’s invincible.
Get ready for Houston. The Colts can win it. They should win it.