New York Giants fans are all too familiar with the way the 2022-23 season is ending for the 4-10-1 Indianapolis Colts. Can the Colts summon the will to wreck what the Giants and their fans hope will be a playoff-clinching celebration Sunday at MetLife Stadium? We ask that and more in this week’s ‘5 questions’ segment.
Chris Shepherd of SB Nation’s Stampede Blue answers our questions.
Ed: The Colts have used three quarterbacks, which basically means they have no quarterback. Is there any doubt in your mind the team has to use its first pick in the draft on on a QB?
Chris: Absolutely no doubt. Some Colts fans are still against drafting a QB in the first round because they don’t see anyone they like. While I understand you don’t want to take a guy just to take him, at some point you have to take a swing. Chris Ballard and his staff have kicked the can down the road long enough, now they have to make a decision.
Ed: What are your feelings on the Jeff Saturday experiment as head coach?
Chris: I’m still dumbfounded by the decision. I can’t believe he’s the head coach (interim or not) of the Indianapolis Colts. I blasted the decision when it happened and then as we all predicted the Colts have gotten worse. Frank Reich is a good coach who took the fall for an awful offensive roster. In a lot of ways it isn’t Jeff Saturday’s fault. I don’t hold any ill will towards him, my problem with the whole thing is with owner Jim Irsay. The worst part of it is that I truly believe that Jim Irsay believed hiring Jeff Saturday would result in the Colts winning more games. And it seems like Irsay is meddling more than he ever has in the past. After what he’s done this season I have no faith at all in his decision making ability.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him in the Colts’ lineup, who would it be? Why?
Chris: I think the obvious answer is Andrew Thomas. The Colts biggest problem this year has come up front, the offensive line has gone from an abject disaster to now only below average. Colts third-round rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann has been fine all things considered and he has improved as the season has gone on but I would trade him in a second for Andrew Thomas. Any time you have a chance to land a premier left tackle, especially one who is only 23 years old, you do it. Thomas would instantly improve the 2022 Colts but he would allow the 2023 Colts an opportunity to get back into the mix with a solid draft class.
Ed: In what has been a miserable season, can you give me a couple of players who have been pleasant surprises this season?
Chris: Jelani Woods, tight end. The Colts drafted the rookie out of Virginia in the third round. Rookie tight ends usually have a really tough time transitioning to the NFL but Woods has hit the ground running. If you look at the stat sheet it doesn’t tell the whole story, you have to consider the fact that in the middle of the Colts season there were a lot of dumb and awful things happening and for one reason or another the Colts QB just didn’t throw his way. But every time Woods gets the ball it seems to be a big play. He’s caught 21 passes for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns, hardly game breaking numbers but my expectations were low coming into the season and given the way things have gone he has done very well considering.
On the defensive side of the ball rookie safety Rodney Thomas II has been a huge surprise. The Colts drafted Thomas in the seventh round out of Yale. Fans didn’t expect anything from a seventh round former Ivy League player, instead he’s started 8 games and has five pass break ups and three interceptions. He might never become a superstar but he looks like he’ll be a solid starter for years to come and finding a guy like that in the seventh round of the draft is pretty surprising.
Ed: DraftKings currently has the Giants as 5.5-point favorites. Can you find any reason to be optimistic that the Colts can go into MetLife Stadium and ruin what the Giants and their fans hope will be a playoff-clinching celebration?
Chris: Any reason? Sure, the Colts defense was really, really good for the first half of the season. But I think those days are gone. The young guys have checked out of a terrible season and there’s no more pride to play for when you give up a 33-point lead to the Vikings. So while I think the defense has the ability to play well and give the Giants offense a hard time, I don’t think they have the will to do it. So outside of that, no there’s no reason the Colts would win this game. The head coach led a low-level high school team to a 20-16 all time record. The players are checked out. The quarterbacks are bad. The lights are on for this Colts team but nobody’s home.