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NFL analyst predicts Colts will have top offense in 2024

NFL analyst predicts Colts will have top offense in 2024

The Indianapolis Colts approach the 2024 season with a renewed sense of excitement in Shane Steichen’s second year as head coach. Explosive quarterback Anthony Richardson has also completed his rehab from a season-ending shoulder injury and appears poised to improve after a promising rookie performance despite playing in just four games.

In a recent article by NFL.comGennaro Felice predicts which offenses will finish in the top 10 in scoring in 2024. Felice also names a “signature strength” and a “worrisome weakness.” Felice’s topic for both when discussing Indy is the obvious choice, the future of the Colts franchise. He starts with the strength, namely Richardson’s incredible upside in a Steichen-led offensive scheme.

Yes, I’m putting some heat on No. 10. Or not? Steichen’s offense scored the 13th-most points in the league during his debut season with the Colts — and that was with backup QB Gardner Minshew playing 85 percent of the snaps! Now his hand-picked signal-caller is back. Given the immense growth Jalen Hurts experienced with Steichen as his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, it’s impossible not to be swept up in Richardson’s potential under the wily coach.

Gennaro Felice | Deputy Editor – NFL.com

Steichen and Richardson are inseparable in a way. Given Steichen’s acumen for exploiting defensive weaknesses, having a quarterback of Richardson’s talents is a dream come true. If Steichen could punish the opposition with Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles, there’s no reason he can’t continue that (or do better) with a healthy Richardson leading an offense loaded with young talent.

With weapons to utilize in the passing game like Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs, Richardson could help Indy’s offense fly. Also, Quenton Nelson leads a vastly improved offensive line to protect Richardson in the pocket and help open up running lanes for superstar Jonathan Taylor. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest Indy could surprise the NFL and finish in the top 10 in offensive scoring.

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But as Felice points out on the other side of this argument, Richardson needs to stay healthy. As annoying as it is right now, without Richardson on the field, Steichen’s plan becomes much less impressive.

There’s no doubt that Richarson is one of the most impressive physical specimens we’ve ever seen at quarterback, but I wish AR himself didn’t know that. He plays with such reckless abandon at times, and it takes its toll. It’s why his rookie season lasted a total of 173 snaps before he was placed on IR, with injuries sidelining three of the four games he played in and a concussion causing him to miss a fifth game entirely. Unfortunately, this is nothing new: Richardson missed significant chunks of time with injuries in college and high school.

Gennaro Felice | Deputy Editor – NFL.com

Richardson has played just four games in 2023 and has suffered multiple injuries in that span. The problem for Richardson is that his physicality and insane athleticism make him a scary prospect to play against defensively. If he scales back or focuses too much on avoiding injuries, it could hinder his playing style and the overall mechanics of Steichen’s scheme.

The good news for Richardson is that he has a year under his belt and enough experience to know that he needs to adjust. The offense is built around the rushing attack and running back Taylor, so if Richardson is out of shape and Joe Flacco is under center, defenses know that Flacco isn’t running the ball. This will force Steichen to be more creative, even if Flacco can hit the deep ball in an instant. It also lowers the success rate of the aforementioned receivers and could make life harder for the offensive line, since Flacco can’t easily escape the pocket when a pass rush comes through.

Richardson knows he has to play more cautiously. After watching his team miss the 2023 playoffs from the sidelines, Richardson is ready to prove those who doubt his health wrong. With a new wind in the air and high expectations for Indianapolis, it will be exciting to see what Richardson has learned from his short career heading into the 2024 season.

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