Chris Shepherd of Stampede Blue was nice enough to answer 5 questions about the Indianapolis Colts for us ahead of this weekend’s game with the Tennessee Titans. You can head over to Stampede Blue to his questions with my answers.
1. The Colts find themselves right in the thick of the race despite some important injuries. How are fans feeling about this season so far?
In a lot of ways this season feels like a vintage Frank Reich coached team (Colts fans would hate that statement, but it’s true). The team is overachieving despite most people projecting the Colts to be entering week 13, far outside of any sort of playoff race, yet that’s where they find themselves. And they’re doing so with a top 10 scoring offense led by a below average starting quarterback whose head coach is getting more out of him as a player than maybe anyone else would. Most fans would point to flaws in this comparison but the overarching themes are remarkably similar.
Colts fans are excited and rightfully so. The one thing Frank Reich never had in Indianapolis was the hope of a young, longterm, starting quarterback and Shane Steichen has that hope in Anthony Richardson. For people who haven’t spent much time watching the Colts this season, they might look at Minshew and Richardson’s passing stats and believe they are of similar quality. But to everyone who has watched both play every game they’ve played this season, it is exciting that the team is doing this with Minshew. Because there is little doubt the team would be even better with a healthy Anthony Richardson.
2. Josh Downs is having a really nice season. What is his ceiling as an NFL receiver?
Downs doesn’t have the long speed or size to win consistently on the outside- at least not conventionally. But put someone (anyone) in man coverage against Josh Downs in the slot and good luck. He wins at the line with great routes and equally impressive quickness. He pulls in everything close to him, showing great hands. He has been very impressive so far this season and while his ceiling is in the slot, he might end up being an elite slot receiver for a long time to come.
3. The Titans offensive line is terrible, but the Colts only managed one sack in the first meeting. Do you expect them to get more pressure this time around?
I wish I could say that I was confident that they would but the Titans had a really good gameplan in week five. They kept the Colts off balance with a lot of quick hitters and screens early and then their patented play action as the game wore on and it all worked together in slowing down the rush. Not only that but when Tannehill did drop straight back the Titans pass pro plan was good all day long. Having bad players on the offensive line is one thing but most bad offensive lines blow a couple protection schemes at some point and I don’t believe the Titans did the first time these two teams played. Having said all of that, I’ll also point out that Tannehill did a great job passing out of sacks, getting rid of the ball with Colts defensive linemen draped all over him 3-4 times.
Week five seemed like almost everything went right for the Titans pass pro. It would be easy for me to expect regression from a unit that hasn’t been good in the Titans offensive line, that said week five didn’t feel like a fluke. The Titans knew what to expect from the Colts front seven and their plan was good. I’m not sure that will change this week. The most interesting thing will be seeing how Will Levis handles the same front.
4. Give us a player we have never heard of that will make an impact on this game.
Seventh round rookie cornerback Jaylon Jones has outplayed his draft position all season long. He’s yet to log an interception but he is consistently in good position and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before he takes a ball away from an opponent. With Juju Brents missing his fourth straight game with an injured quad, I expect Jones to have his hands full with DeAndre Hopkins early and often. Jones has been much better than expected but he might be limited as a player and he is a rookie so this isn’t a matchup that I feel great about for the Colts, but one way or another, Jaylon Jones is going to have an impact on this game.
5. The Colts are 1-point favorites and the total is at 42.5 over at DraftKings Sportsbook. What is your favorite bet in this game?
My favorite bet in this game is one that I hope doesn’t hit. Right now DraftKings is giving Derrick Henry Anytime Touchdown +105 odds. The Colts are once again without their star 1-tech DT, Grover Stewart and the run defense has been porous without big Grove. Anytime someone gives you plus odds on Derrick Henry to score a touchdown, you almost have to take the bet and just the fact that Henry is who he is, combined with how bad the Colts rush defense has been as of late and, well, I won’t make the bet (I’d rather not make money by betting on something bad happening to the Colts) I would almost be surprised if that one didn’t hit this week.
Thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer the questions.