Dopey Report Card (Colts-Texans)
In the end, the better quarterback won. But it wasn't for a lack of trying by Jonathan Taylor, who looked like his 2021 vintage self. Lots of thoughts, lots of grades. And a look at the future.
The final Dopey Report Card will cast an eye toward the future because the recent past…too painful. Speaking of which…how much fun will it be to watch Anthony Richardson running Shane Steichen’s offense with Jonathan Taylor in the backfield? Steichen and Jim Bob Cooter had to amend the playbook this season to accommodate Gardner Minshew, and they did a marvelous job. I mean, 9-8 with Minshew starting the last 12 games? Pretty impressive. But the Colts figure to be loaded in the offensive backfield. I’ll be honest: I don’t quite get where JT is coming from sometimes – he’s got a weird Russell Wilson vibe to him -- but he’s an absolute baller, and forced his way back onto the field late in Saturday’s game. He earned his money against Houston, merely the third-best rushing defense in the league, going for 188 yards on 30 carries, including a season-high 49-yard touchdown run. Still haven’t figured out why JT wasn’t on the field for that final offensive play – he’s a modern-day Roy Hibbert – but I get it from an X’s and O’s sense. The play was open. Just brutal execution, especially from Minshew.
Houston went nowhere fast in the running game; frankly, I thought the Texans did the Colts a favor every time they eschewed the pass and kept it on the ground. They ran 28 times for 60 yards, a 2.1 average. The big off-season question there is whether the Colts will retain run-stopper extraordinaire Grover Stewart. Tyquan Lewis, a rotational defensive lineman, is also a free agent. But the Stewart decision is a big one. When he was out of the lineup due to a PED suspension, the Colts allowed a full yard more per carry on the ground than they did when he was playing. In other words, he’s a difference maker. Another massive year for Zaire Franklin (nine tackles Saturday while leading the league in tackles), a typically high-level season for DeForest Buckner (six tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack) and E.J. Speed was all over the field against Houston with 13 tackles, 10 of them solo.