The Indianapolis Colts had a wild ride in the 2022 season, ending with a disappointing 4-12-1 record. But as we gear up for the 2023-2024 season, the Colts have been putting in work and making some big changes and adjustments across the board. General Manager Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay wasted no time addressing their issues, setting the stage for a brighter future. Let’s dive into some key developments from the off season that will shape the upcoming season.
Figuring out the cornerback situation
The dismissal of Isaiah Rodgers cast a shadow over the Colts’ cornerback unit. While the return of veteran Kenny Moore II brings some stability, there were concerns about the overall experience in the group heading into training camp. Kenny Moore II, a cornerstone of the Colts’ defense, set the standard during the Colts’ training camp, pushing himself and his teammates to improve as the regular season approached.
Several players, including Julius Brents, a promising second-round rookie, and Jaylon Jones, who has earned confidence within the organization with his stellar performance, are still finding their footing. The Colts even took a calculated risk by exposing high-upside player Darius Rush to waivers, resulting in Rush being claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs.
To compensate for the relative inexperience in the secondary, a quick and explosive pass rush will be crucial in disrupting opposing offenses and supporting the young cornerback group. This could be an opportunity for Kenny Moore II to emerge as a leader and playmaker in the secondary.
Anthony Richardson: A game-changer for the offense
The Colts’ offense is set to receive a significant boost with the addition of Anthony Richardson. His dual-threat abilities as a quarterback introduce a dynamic element that the team has lacked in recent years. Richardson’s running ability opens exciting possibilities for offensive coordinator Shane Steichen to craft innovative plays and make the Colts’ offense more explosive.
During preseason action, fans got a taste of Richardson’s potential, particularly in a read option play in the red zone. This simple yet effective play represents a shift in offensive strategy, highlighting Richardson’s potential to redefine the Colts’ attack.
Despite some concerns about accuracy during the preseason, Richardson’s prowess in throwing deep passes remains one of his standout traits. His ability to launch deep throws will expand the playbook and lead to more explosive plays in the passing game.
Richardson’s mobility also benefits the running back group, as his dual-threat capability forces defenses to account for his running ability, creating opportunities for running backs like Zack Moss, Deon Jackson and Evan Hull to excel.
Throughout training camp, the Colts dedicated considerable time to refining the running game and run-pass options (RPOs) with Richardson. Although they did not unveil the entire playbook during the preseason, the emphasis on these aspects of the game promises exciting prospects for the regular season.
Jonathan Taylor’s absence provides opportunities
Jonathan Taylor’s absence from training camp was a lingering storyline, but it opened the door for other running backs to shine. Zack Moss has taken the lead among the running backs, with rookie Evan Hull and others showing promise.
Taylor’s placement on the reserve/PUP list created a window of opportunity for players like Deon Jackson, who could complement Richardson in the run game. While Moss’s availability is uncertain due to a recent arm injury, Jackson, a former UDFA, could play a pivotal role.
Shaq Leonard’s return to top form
Linebacker Shaquille Leonard’s return to the field is a welcome sight for the Colts. After a season marked by injuries, Leonard passed his physical and is eager to reclaim his peak form. He has actively participated in practice, even working extensively with the first-team defense during team drills.
Based on Leonard’s performance in training camp, there is reason for optimism that he will continue progressing toward the defensive prowess that earned him a 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, three Pro Bowl selections, a second-team All-Pro nomination and three first-team All-Pro honors.
Leonard’s resurgence provides a much-needed boost to the Colts’ defense and could be a game-changer for the team’s performance this season.
Bolstering the Indianapolis Colts wide receiver corps
Parting ways with talented players is never easy, as was the case with wide receiver Parris Campbell, who found a new home with the New York Giants.
However, Isaiah McKenzie could be one of Chris Ballard’s most under-the-radar acquisitions this offseason. The agile slot receiver brings six years of NFL experience to the table, making him a veteran leader for a youthful Colts receiving corps. McKenzie’s versatility as a speedy slot receiver and his ability to contribute in various ways will be a valuable asset to the Colts’ offense.
McKenzie will face stiff competition from 2023 third-round pick Josh Downs, who had an impressive college career at North Carolina. The battle for the wide receiver position promises to be intense, with both players vying for significant roles.
Downs’ chemistry with fellow rookie Anthony Richardson has been pivotal. The two reportedly roomed together during training camp, and their growing bond off the field bodes well for building chemistry on it.
Michael Pittman Jr. will continue to shine this season, showcasing leadership both on and off the field. His proactive approach in organizing team activities during the offseason reflects his dedication to the team’s success in 2023.
The Indianapolis Colts have undergone substantial changes and faced challenges during the offseason, but they are determined to turn the page on a disappointing 2022 season. With promising additions, the return of key players and opportunities for young talent to shine, the Colts are set to make the 2023-2024 season a year of redemption and success. For a fan base hungry for positive results, the upcoming season offers hope and excitement for what lies ahead.
This story was composed by Bailey Jackson. For more coverage from Bailey similar to the Indianapolis Colts 2023-24 season preview, click here.