Team Capsules: Indianapolis Colts

August 22, 2023

A look at every NFL franchise heading into the 2023 season

© Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

At one point last year, the Colts were 3-2-1. In mid-October, they certainly looked like they’d be in the AFC South race all season. Then, the wheels came off.

Indianapolis went 1-10 the rest of the way. Frank Reich was fired. He was replaced by former Colts center Jeff Saturday. It was a disaster, as most people predicted given his complete lack of head coaching experience.

A 4-12-1 record landed Indy the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. With that selection, they took Anthony Richardson, trying to find a long-term solution at quarterback.

He’ll have plenty of talent around him. Just two years ago, the Colts had the most Pro Bowl selections in the NFL. Things could be trending up in Indianapolis.

What to like about the Colts…

  • Michael Pittman Jr. has blossomed into a legit No. 1 wide receiver. Despite playing with a revolving door of washed-up quarterbacks, he’s improved in each of his three seasons. Last year, the former USC star had a career-high 99 receptions. He’ll provide Richardson with a primary target that should truly help the rookie quarterback.
  • Quenton Nelson is arguably the best guard in the league, anchoring an offensive line that is an extremely solid group. During his five pro seasons, he’s been selected to five Pro Bowls, while also being named All-Pro on three occasions. With Nelson up front, the Colts are able to run the ball as well as most teams in the league, whether that’s with Jonathan Taylor or whoever steps in to fill that void in 2023.
  • Shane Steichen will stabilize things on the coaching front after the experiment with Saturday turned into such a mess. Last season with the Eagles, Steichen guided an offense than finished ranked No. 3 in the NFL, while also scoring the second-most points in the league. He helped turn Jalen Hurts into a franchise quarterback, something everyone in Indy is hoping he can do again with Richardson.

What not to like about the Colts…

  • Taylor is a training camp holdout, with Indianapolis giving him permission to find a trade partner. In other words, there could be a huge hole in the team’s backfield. Two seasons ago, Taylor led the NFL in rushing, racking up 1,811 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns. His presence would go a long way towards helping Richardson settle in, so his absence will certainly be felt.
  • Richardson has all the physical tools necessary to be a great quarterback. It’s part of the reason he wowed so many people at the Combine. But he’s going to have to grow into the job, more than most rookie quarterbacks. Last year was his first as the full-time starter at Florida. He threw less than 400 total passes during his time in Gainesville. His career completion percentage of 54.7 will have to improve greatly, as will his 24-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
  • It’ll take some time for the culture to change in Indianapolis. Steichen has a tall task in front of him, as last season left a mark on the Colts. Not only did they go 1-10 down the stretch, but they also had some heartbreaking losses along that path. Blowing a 33-point lead to the Vikings had to be at the top of the list, as that record-setting performance will stick with everyone involved for quite some time.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Colts under 6.5 wins in 2023 (+100)

The schedule sets up nicely. Playing in the AFC South helps, with two games against both the Texans and Titans. Although, that’s what those teams are saying about the Colts. Indianapolis also faces the Browns, Buccaneers, Panthers, Raiders, Rams and Saints, so there are plenty of winnable games on the docket. That said, it’s hard to see a team with a first-time head coach and a rookie quarterback going 7-10 or better. Take the under.