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Grading Steichen: Week 17 vs. Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Offense

It may not be pretty, there might not be a lot of splash plays, and sometimes the stubborn commitment to the passing game makes me a bit mad, but Steichen continues keeping the offense rolling, and having Braden Smith back certainly helped with everything. The running game carried the load against a very toughh Raiders’ defense that had allowed just 14 points and scored 14 themselves against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Colts’ offense had almost 350 yards of total offense, no turnovers, and 23 points scored. The unit relied a lot on Jonathan Taylor and the offensive line, while some individual mistakes by Minshew or drops by the receivers prevented what very well could have been another thirty point outing.

The offense has cooled off a bit over the past five weeks, and they don’t really give a ton of confidence in their ability to score, move the ball consistently, or avoid turnovers, but it somehow keeps working, and the main reason I can think for that is Steichen’s coaching.

Defense / Special Teams

The defense was not on their best, but they did do enough for the Colts to get the win, and considering their limitations and injuries I cannot fault them too much for that. Jaylon Jones and JuJu Brents were good enough, even despite some understandable struggles covering a receiver with the pedigree of Davante Adams. Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed look like they are suffering the toll the long season left on their bodies, and they are missing tackles and not making plays they used to make before, also the injuries on an already thin secondary just keep piling up.

I don’t give them much credit because they were facing an offense led by a head-coach that took on during the season, a backup quarterback, and a backup running back, not holding them under 21 points would have been a dramatic failure. The big test for the unit will come next week against the Houston Texans.

As for the special teams’ unit led by Brian Mason, I am really worried for the recent tendency of unforced mistakes with killer results.

  • Bengals: Missed short field goal, missed extra point, muffed punt
  • Steelers: Blocked punt against, missed short field goal
  • Falcons: Defensive offsides on a Falcons’ missed goal.
  • Raiders: Free first down on roughing the punter.

That is four consecutive games with terrible mistakes that hurt the team a lot. Another week of mistakes against the Houston Texans would be simply inexcusable, and would have me calling for Mason’s firing.

Overall: B

The coaching staff gets a pass because the team did enough to win, and winning against the Raiders was all that mattered to remain in the playoff race. Still there were too many mistakes, and the game ended up way too close for comfort. Still, this is not the week to pass judgement, as we move to an all-important matchup against the Texans next week, which will most likely end up deciding the favourite for COTY.