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Know your Foe: Indianapolis Colts | Week 2


That statement, in and of itself, conjures up images of some of the greatest wins in franchise history and some of the most hideous gut punches since 2002. That's the horror, and joy, that comes with playing the team with the horseshoe on the other sideline. But, it's that much better to face this Colts squad this weekend at NRG Stadium, especially in DeMeco Ryans' first home game as the head coach for the Houston Texans. Both teams come into this game after some bright moments in losses to 2022 playoff teams.. The Colts played at home last week and lost to the defending AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars 31-21. However, rookie QB Anthony Richardson had the Colts BATTLING until the final gun sounded. As we all know the Texans lost on the road to the Baltimore Ravens 25-9. So, two teams sitting at 0-1, desperately trying to get a W for their new head coach and get win number one, which would be division win number one in 2023, will take the field on Sunday at noon. The Colts welcome back one of the best defensive players in the NFL and return a large majority of their talented roster. But, the big change is at QB and head coach where new leader Shane Steichen is leading the way with his rookie star QB Richardson. As such, it's going to be stressful, chaotic and a whole lot of fun on Sunday at noon at NRG. Let's get to know our week two foe, a team we know well - the 2023 Indianapolis Colts.

2023 Colts Schedule (0-1)

Week 1 - L Jacksonville Jaguars 31-21

Week 2 - @ Houston Texans

Week 3 - @ Baltimore Ravens

Week 4 - Los Angeles Rams

Week 5 - Tennessee Titans

Week 6 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 7 - Cleveland Browns

Week 8 - New Orleans Saints

Week 9 - @ Carolina Panthers

Week 10 - @ New England Patriots

Week 11 - BYE

Week 12 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 13 - @ Tennessee Titans

Week 14 - @ Cincinnati Bengals

Week 15 - Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 16 - @ Atlanta Falcons

Week 17 - Las Vegas Raiders

Week 18 - Houston Texans

Colts OFFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Per game - 65.0 ypg (29th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Per game - 215.0 ypg (11th)

Total offense per game - 280.0 ypg (18th)

Turnovers lost - 3 (2 Fumbles lost,1 INT)

Expected Colts starting offense for Week 2


RB - Deon Jackson or Zack Moss (missed week one with injury)

TE - Kylen Granson or Drew Ogletree (concussion protocol currently)

WR - Michael Pittman Jr.


WR - Alec Pierce

LT - Bernhard Raimann

LG - Quenton Nelson

C - Ryan Kelly

RG - Will Fries

RT - Braden Smith

Key Offensive Non-Starters

TE - Mo Alie-Cox



OC - Wesley French



Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Colts Offense

  1. Same is Different - There's been so much talk about how facing Baltimore's star QB Lamar Jackson is the exact same as facing Colts QB Anthony Richardson. They're about as similar as applesauce and apple cider. Both come from apples, but those couldn't be two different products. Same with the two QBs the Texans face to start the season. Lamar is slippery, quick as a hiccup and is a change of direction champion with excellent touch down the seam in the passing game. Richardson is HUGE, doesn't avoid hits and throws the ball 100 mph on nearly every throw. They're different QBs but what is slightly similar is the offensive package each has been handed. Both run a little zone read, use RPO concepts and put each defense on notice when the ball is snapped to them. So, the Texans have some experience with some of the scheme stuff but that's about all that's the same with these two QBs.
  2. Same is Different, part two - Along a similar vein, last week's opponent and this week's opponent have a similar, yet different, whippet quick, dynamic rookie receiving option. Baltimore's Zay Flowers was a one man wrecking crew out in space in the opener against the Texans. Lamar got him the ball and the fun began, well, not so much on the Texans side but you get the point. The Colts have their version of Zay Flowers in rookie Josh Downs. Again, like Richardson and Jackson, the two have some similar traits but are extremely different in the ways they can hurt the Texans defense. Flowers was a stud with catch and run opportunities, whereas Downs is going to rely on route running and glue sticks for hands to make an impact. Downs is going to be more competitive at the catch point, more so than he is a catch and run superstar like Flowers. Again, similar makeup, but slightly different approaches…yet 100000% dangerous.
  3. Stand up, by being low - The Texans DL was dealt another blow when Hassan Ridgeway was put on IR this week after an injury suffered in the loss to the Ravens. Ridgeway is the biggest of the Texans interior defenders, so his size will be missed against Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Will Fries. Those three Colts interior blockers want to swap paint in the phone booth to get the run game kickstarted but the Texans interior must stand tall against the Colts heavies inside. MUST. The best success the Texans have had in the last five to seven years against the Colts was when the interior went toe-to-toe with Nelson and company and didn't yield an inch. This has to be one of those same situations - grab the hard hat, stand up to the bullies and play low.

Colts DEFENSE (in 2023 regular season)

Rushing Yards Allowed Per game - 105.0 ypg (12th in the NFL)

Passing Yards Allowed Per game - 237 ypg (26th)

Total offense Allowed per game - 342.0 ypg (23rd)

Turnovers generated - 2 (1 INT, 1 Fumble recoveries - Colts are -1 in TO margin in 2023)

Expected Colts starting defense for Week 2

DE - Kwity Paye

DT - DeForest Buckner

DT - Grover Stewart


LB - Zaire Franklin

LB - Shaq Leonard

Nickel - Kenny Moore II

CB - Dallis Flowers

S - Rodney Thomas II

S - Julian Blackmon

CB - Darrell Baker Jr.

Key Defensive Non-Starters

DT - Eric Johnson II


DE - Dayo Odeyingbo


S - Nick Cross

LB - E.J. Speed

ST - Grant Stuard

Italics - Rookie

ALL CAPS - New to team in 2023

Keys to winning v. the Colts Defense

  1. King Zaire - Without Shaq Leonard in 2022, Bobby Okereke and Zaire Franklin were left with the task of replacing the Pro Bowl LB. They both shined and it got Okereke a nice, fat contract with the New York Giants. Franklin earned a spot next to Leonard in 2023 but it's turned out that Franklin won more than that, so to speak. He's become as much an Alpha in this defense as Leonard. Against Jacksonville, Franklin was all over the place, snatching up Jaguars ball carriers, forcing fumbles and playing like, dare I say, Leonard. The former Pro Bowler Leonard isn't quite back to himself after missing all of 2022 and Franklin might even be better than Leonard is now. Franklin's seemingly stepped into the role of being The Man alongside Leonard. The Texans' key is to get hats on Franklin and Leonard consistently because neither one can have 16 tackles like Baltimore's Roquan Smith did last week if the Texans want to win. And, the Texans didn't get hats on Smith at all. That can't happen again.
  2. Grove and Buck - To get to that pair of linebackers, the Texans interior MUST handle one of the best DL duos in the NFL - Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner. Those two have spent the last three years lighting up the Texans interior offensive linemen regularly. Strength. Size. Power. Quickness. Agility. Those two have those assets in spades. Stewart is often overshadowed, but I've seen him destroy any, and every single, rush plan the Texans have thrown at him. Buckner? Same result. So, if the Texans' interior can't effectively block that duo, then the LBs will run free BEHIND a duo let loose in the Texans backfield. Suffice to say, the Texans run game will end up in neutral, or worse, go in reverse if that happens.
  3. Attack the Corners - The Texans threw the ball 44 times last week against Baltmore and I hope that number comes way down this week against Indianapolis. But, BUT when the Texans DO throw the ball, they'll do so against a pair of cornerbacks that have a combined three starts in the NFL. Dallis Flowers has two starts and Darrell Baker Jr started on Sunday for the first time in his NFL career. Now, let me be clear, inexperience isn't a GUARANTEE for success, but the more pressure the Texans' passing game can put on them, the closer it could be to a reality. That means the Texans' OL has to protect against those two stars up front to give rookie QB C.J. Stroud time to throw the rock. If that unit gives Stroud time, then the Texans WR must exploit these talented, yet green, cover corners.

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