The Colts Mailbag is back! Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for the next Colts Mailbag by clicking here. I'll also be checking the comments on our Official Colts Podcast YouTube page and will answer some listener questions in here, too.
Let's get after this week's questions:
James Edgeman, Hamilton, Mich. In the first three games of the season, Anthony Richardson has performed "better than expected" for a rookie. What are some key metrics/milestones to look for in his continued growth?
JJ Stankevitz: Let's start with yards per pass attempt, which head coach Shane Steichen said he likes as a stat more than completion percentage. Richardson is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt (21st) but his 8.0 yards per attempt was ninth among Week 4 starting quarterbacks – which balanced out his completion percentage of 44 percent, which was the lowest last week. That's how Richardson still had a passer rating of 98.8 (13th out of 32).
Here's another: Richardson has been sacked six times, but only one came while he was in the pocket. Because of that, Richardson has only lost the Colts 12 yards on sacks, the lowest total among regular starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Richardson's ability to feel and side-step pressure in the pocket was all over his college tape at Florida, and it's showed up as he's transitioned to navigating NFL pass rushes.
Matthew Stuthers, Houston, Texas: Hey JJ,
Love my Colts, but I've got a gripe and I need presented with a solid alternative perspective. Maybe you could do that for me?
The Colts needed Three TDs and Three 2pt Conversions to win. After the first TD resulting in 6 + 2, the Colts maintained the ability to win, as long as they repeated that two more times.
Confusingly, 8+7+8 was the route they decided to go. That necessarily means they planned for a game winning FG. With that plan in mind, why not just go for 24, while that result was still possible?
JJ Stankevitz: Good question here, Matthew. A best guess here: The Colts had first-and-goal on the four-yard line, and head coach Shane Steichen called what looked like veer option runs on first and second down. Richardson handed off to running back Zack Moss on both plays, with Moss gaining two yards on the first and one yard on the second.
On third and goal, Steichen broke out a designer-y goal line play, with tight ends Kylen Granson and Drew Ogletree lined up on each side of Richardson and running back Trey Sermon in the backfield. All three players in the backfield went in motion prior to the snap and lined up in different spots, then Sermon motioned out wide at the snap. Left guard Quenton Nelson pulled and delivered a punishing block, while Granson went through the hole first and cleared space for Richardson to jog into the end zone untouched.
So here's the guess: That third-and-goal play might've been what the Colts would've ran for a two-point conversion in that spot. But they needed to get in the end zone first, necessitating it being called on third down. If that wasn't the case, calling four straight goal-to-go plays might not've been the best idea, especially since the Colts would still have another opportunity to go for two later in the game.
Joey Steinert, New Albany, Ind.: Have the Colts had any thought about trading for a veteran defensive back? I know the team wants to develop the younger players, but, would a experienced safety or cornerback would help this team out. Especially giving up big yards to Stroud and Stafford.
JJ Stankevitz: It doesn't sound like it right now, Joey, with about four weeks until the NFL trade deadline. The Colts knew they'd be young in the secondary coming into the season but weren't fazed by the inexperience of Dallis Flowers/Darrell Baker Jr./JuJu Brents/Jaylon Jones at cornerback. Flowers was playing well prior to sustaining a season-ending Achilles injury against the Rams; with him out for the season, the Colts will look to Baker and/or Jones to fill his role.
"We've always felt pretty good about the youth at that spot," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "Now, it's just the experience where we felt like we had to bank knowledge. We're going to take a look at DJ and Jaylon both this week. With DJ, DJ is a true pro. It's hard, right? You start for a couple of games and then you're out. His mentality – I don't think there was anybody more excited for JuJu when he made the play in Baltimore than DJ. He's very mature and he knows, just like everybody who is a backup, that you could be – with injuries that take place during the season, that you could be up in no time. You've just got to always be ready. He's in a great mindset. We're just going to take a good look at Jaylon too and just see this week what plays out."
Harold Miller, Bedford, Ind.: How do see the growth in Anthony Richardson as far as being able to read a defense?
JJ Stankevitz: Considering he's 21 years old and only has started three NFL regular season games, I'd say it's been pretty impressive. Richardson's only thrown one interception in 85 passing dropbacks and generally hasn't put the ball into harm's way much, even though he's facing several coverages and fronts for the first time over the early part of the season.
Also: I asked Steichen this week about how Richardson has digested his film after games, and got an encouraging response.
"Just watching the tape with him and hearing his thoughts and what he sees has been great," Steichen said. "You can see just the little things. He sees them too, you know what I mean, before we even say it. Like, shoot that little thing was off by a little bit. Just the growth from him as a player has been great seeing those things."
Ben Bruhschwein, Fargo, N.D.: Do you think with JT's return looming we'll see less designed runs for AR?
JJ Stankevitz: We'll see when Jonathan Taylor is activated off the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list – Thursday was his first full practice since last December. When he does get back on the field, though, the Colts expect he'll add an explosive element to their offense.
As for how Taylor's return impacts Richardson, it probably won't decrease the amount of designed runs he has. There's a difference between a read option play – where Richardson chooses to keep the ball or hand off to the running back – and a designed run. Richardson has carried the ball on six designed runs this year, per Pro Football Focus, four of which have gone for touchdowns.
View the best photos from the Colts' matchup with the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium during Week 4 of the 2023 season.