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Colts Mailbag: Zack Moss' workload with Jonathan Taylor out, is it too early to talk NFL playoffs?

The Colts mailbag is back for Week 13 with questions on the Colts' run game in the wake of Jonathan Taylor's thumb injury and if we should pump the brakes on talking playoffs as the calendar flips to December. 


The Colts Mailbag is back! 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:

Brock Easley, Indianapolis: Now that JT is out for 2-3 weeks, should Moss do about 20 or more carries?

JJ Stankevitz: Baseline that's probably not far off. In his first four starts this season, Moss carried 18, 30, 18 and 23 times, with Taylor available only for that last game – in which Moss ripped off a career-high 165 yards against the Tennessee Titans.

In eight games as a starter since the Colts acquired him in a midseason trade with the Buffalo Bills last year, Moss has 141 carries (17.6 attempts/game) for 719 yards (89.8 yards/game, 5.1 yards/attempt) with five rushing touchdowns, as well as 18 receptions for 122 yards and one receiving touchdown (0.75 total touchdowns/game).

"When JT wasn't with us early in the season, Zack carried the load," head coach Shane Steichen said. "And that's what we expect going forward with him until we get JT back."

Dylan Durnal, Lebanon, Ind.: Colts have a real chance to make it to the playoffs. Do you think the injury to Jonathan Taylor will change the way they have been playing their offense?

JJ Stankevitz: Probably not, Dylan, since the Colts have plenty of trust in Moss – and, after all, this offense started to come together with Moss the team's primary running back. 

Stay with me on this stat: Moss' average of 5.099 yards per carry in games he's started is the highest in Colts history among running backs with at least 100 carries as a starter, just edging out Taylor's average of 5.063 yards/carry (both are rounded up to 5.1, so they're essentially tied). 

The short version: No starting running back has been more efficient running the ball than Moss in Colts franchise history. Consider it good news not only for the Colts, but for your fantasy team – if you have Moss on your roster, like the Colts' starting quarterback does. 

"He's been on my fantasy team all year – it's been great, so happy for me," Gardner Minshew II said. "Love Zack, excited to get him really rolling again."

Jordan Kennerknecht, Roanoke, Va.: With JT going to be out for a while how much do you think we will see Trey Sermon being involved in the offense?

JJ Stankevitz: Good question here, Jordan. Trey Sermon indeed is the next man up on the Colts' depth chart, and is a player Steichen trusts dating back to their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022.

"Trey is a good runner, he's got good vision, he's a strong back," Steichen said. "Spent some time with him obviously in Philly, had him there when I was there. But a good, strong runner. He's got good vision, good patience and he's able to break tackles."

Sermon carried five times in the Colts' Week 3 win over the Baltimore Ravens and three times in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams, but hasn't had a rushing attempt since Taylor was activated off PUP before Week 5. The Colts trust Moss to take a heavy workload – he played at least 75 percent of the Colts' snaps every game in Weeks 2-5 – but also trust Sermon to step in here and there to give Moss a breather.

Colt Myers, Amboy, Ind.: Why did the Colts drop Shaquille Leonard and not trade him?

JJ Stankevitz: The NFL trade deadline was Oct. 31, and the Colts didn't decide to move on from Leonard until last week. Notably Leonard was not claimed on waivers – any team trading for him or claiming him would've taken on his full contract – and he's now an unrestricted free agent.

Comments from Tuesday's Official Colts Podcast episode on YouTube:

@anthonychurch726: In 2020 the Colts went 11-5 but still had to rely on some other teams losing just to make the playoffs.

@Flaminodad: Personally, I think we ease up on playoff talk til at least mid December We're 6-5.

@iGoldenWax: We're 6-5 (should be 7-4 but the browns paid the refs) with one of the easiest schedules and your direct completion for a wildcard on the schedule. Why should they not talk playoffs? It's 7 games away. Less fortunate teams are looking at the draft already…

JJ Stankevitz: I wanted to hit these comments, since I think they're worth digging into as the Colts sit seventh in the AFC entering Week 13. The general thought here is 10 wins should be enough to get the Colts to the playoffs.

First up, on the 2020 Colts: Yes, the Colts needed some help to make the playoffs that year – but that's hardly the norm. Since 1994, 97 teams have won exactly 10 games. Of them:

  • 87 made the playoffs (89.7 percent)
  • 10 missed the playoffs (10.3 percent)

The 2020 Miami Dolphins – who were in contention with the Colts – went 10-6 and missed the playoffs. They're the only 10-win team since 2016 to not make the playoffs; only one of 71 11-win teams (the 2008 New England Patriots) missed the playoffs since 1994.

The point being: If you win 10 games and miss the playoffs, chalk it up to an extremely unlucky season.

As for if it's too early to start talking playoffs – hey, it beats the alternative, right? A year ago, the Colts were 4-7-1 entering Week 13, and fans were in the mode of looking toward the NFL Draft. It's way more fun to talk through playoff scenarios and have each game carry playoff implications than the alternative.

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