The Indianapolis Colts are one of the NFL’s most surprising teams this season. Most fans and pundits expected them to have another lousy year. However, they’re currently 7-5 and are the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
That’s not bad at all for a team that’s dealt with constant adversity this season. The Colts have been without several key players due to injuries and suspensions. Yet, they continue to win.
Indianapolis pulled off a wild 31-28 overtime victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 13. The team has won four straight games for the first time since 2018. That was back when Andrew Luck was running the show for the blue and white.
Head coach Shane Steichen is doing a remarkable job during his first year with the Colts. No doubt about it, he has to be considered a candidate for NFL Coach of the Year honors.
2023 Indianapolis Colts: The Epitome of Overachievers
No Franchise Quarterback, No Problem
A season ago, the Colts started a trio of quarterbacks: Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger, and Nick Foles. They all struggled, which played a role in the team finishing with a 4-12-1 record.
Indianapolis later selected Anthony Richardson with the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The former Florida Gators quarterback was having a great rookie year this season, looking like the next Michael Vick/Lamar Jackson.
Unfortunately, Richardson suffered a Grade 3 AC joint sprain during a Week 5 win over the Titans. As a result, the duo-threat QB had season-ending shoulder surgery.
Veteran Gardner Minshew has taken over for Richardson. The former sixth-round pick isn’t an elite quarterback by any stretch of the imagination. But, he’s arguably the best backup in the league right now. Minshew led the game-winning touchdown drive during the Colts’ most recent win. He threw a 55-yarder to Alec Pierce followed by a four-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman Jr. So far, he is proving that you can have a winning season without a franchise signal-caller.
Other Key Injuries and Suspensions for the Indianapolis Colts
Nursing an ankle injury, Jonathan Taylor missed the first four games of the season while on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The running back would play seven games before injuring his thumb in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Taylor is expected to miss multiple weeks. His injury opens the door for backup Zack Moss, who leads the team in rushing with 723 yards (11th most in the league).
Other Colts injuries include Dallis Flowers, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles during Week 4. Rookie Julius Brents has missed seven games and promising tight end Jelani Woods is yet to play this season.
In terms of suspensions, Isaiah Rodgers Sr. was suspended indefinitely in June after violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Grover Stewart was suspended in October for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Stewart, one of the top nose tackles in all of football, will return for the Colts’ Sunday matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite injuries and suspensions, the Colts are still finding ways to win ball games. They play gritty football every week and are the ultimate overachievers. Don’t be surprised if they wind up making the playoffs when it’s all said and done.
Main Photo: [Denny Simmons/The Tennessean] – USA Today Sports