Is this Zaire Franklin’s defense? Can Gardner Minshew keep winning for the Colts?

Is this Zaire Franklin’s defense? Can Gardner Minshew keep winning for the Colts?

 

Before the Indianapolis Colts hosted the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Zaire Franklin wasn’t interested in learning about the Titans’ five-game winning streak or the Colts’ lack of success at home since last October.
The best linebacker for Indianapolis was adamant that his team wasn’t focusing on the past.

Since last October, “a lot has changed,” said Franklin

“We’re a team that’s growing.

The Colts defeated the Titans to back up Franklin’s position, but now they must overcome another challenging challenge: defeating the defending AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars on the road for the first time since 2014.
Both teams have records of 3-2, and the winner will own the AFC South division title outright.

Franklin can still hear the chitchat from the beginning of the year.

The exterior conveys a lot of information, Franklin said.
“They warned us ahead of time that we might not win a game.
Everyone now thinks that you might win the division.

“Narratives shift.

Likewise, the Colts.
Here are five pressing questions for a team that has exceeded expectations through the first five games of the season as they get ready to live without rookie QB Anthony Richardson, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and will be out for at least four games.

Can Gardner Minshew continue to triumph?

Richardson participated in practice on Wednesday with his right arm in a sling because he sprained his throwing shoulder’s AC joint during the victory over the Titans.
When newly signed practice squad quarterback Kellen Mond was taking the snaps, the rookie imitated a few dropbacks at one point.
While Minshew was taking all of the first-team reps during another stretch, Richardson sat next to coach Shane Steichen and observed. Richardson has impressively scored seven touchdowns in his first four starts, but only one of those games was completed without an injury, and the other was missed due to a concussion.

Minshew has carried the team’s load in his absence.
The Colts are 3-0 in games he has entered, with the season opener being the lone exception when the seasoned backup filled in for three snaps in the fourth quarter.
However, it’s crucial to consider the context of those three triumphs.
Before leaving the game with a concussion in Week 2’s victory at Houston, Richardson scored twice in the first quarter to give the Colts a 14-0 lead.
In Week 3, Matt Gay defeated the Ravens by kicking four field goals of at least 50 yards, setting an NFL record.
In the win over the Titans in Week 5, Zack Moss rushed for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns.

To his credit, Minshew has been steady, completing 57 of 83 passes (68.7 percent) for 553 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions this year.
However, what happens if he doesn’t receive the same level of support in Jacksonville on Sunday or in the weeks that follow?
What happens if he has to be the Colts’ best player for them to win?
Although he won’t be able to intimidate opponents with his arm or legs like Richardson can, his judgment and accuracy may be enough to keep the Colts’ offense running smoothly. The veteran’s snap-to-throw time of 2 points and 62 seconds ranks him tied for seventh in the NFL.

According to Steichen, “He’s an elite processor of the game.”.
“He’s accurate, he knows where to go with the football at the right time and place, and he’s been great for us.

What is there to anticipate from Jonathan Taylor?

Many issues can be resolved with money, and Taylor’s issues were definitely resolved.
One day after signing a three-year extension with the Colts worth $42 million, including $26.5 million guaranteed, the All-Pro running back, who asked for a trade in July, made his season debut against the Titans.

When asked if his extension was good for the struggling running back market, Taylor responded, “I definitely think it is.”.
“Anytime a running back can go out there and perform while also having some security, it just shows that running backs are essential.
You all witnessed it when Zack Moss was relied upon solely to help the team win.

The irony in Taylor’s claim is that many in the league believe that paying a running back top dollar is unnecessary precisely because of Moss’ performance against the Titans, which ended Tennessee’s 20-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher.
Despite missing the season opener due to a broken right forearm, Moss, who is making $1.2 million in the final year of his rookie deal, is second in the NFL with 196 rushing yards after contact this year, according to Pro Football Reference.

After the season, Moss’ salary will probably come from outside of Indianapolis, but for the time being, he and Taylor will share a backfield that has the potential to be among the best in the league.
Following a week in which he was only able to take 10 snaps, Taylor is anticipated to play more this week.
With Moss already on the field, Taylor thinks things could “get really scary” for the opposition.

 

How much praise is due the offensive line?

 

The Colts’ offensive line has performed admirably this season, regardless of who starts at quarterback or running back. The Colts have established their dominance in the trenches, with their final possession against the Titans last week serving as a shining example.
In order to prevent a Tennessee comeback, the Colts put together a 14-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a field goal. The Titans anticipated the Colts’ intention to run the ball, but the Colts still outran them physically thanks to Moss’ 37 yards of rushing during the drive.

Right guard Will Fries remarked that “(our chemistry) wasn’t just created in a single day.”.
Coach Tony Sparano Jr. of the offensive line is where it all begins.
) talking to us on our very first day about how crucial it is to work as a team way back in the spring.
We had many dinners together. We spent a lot of time playing games and hanging out at the homes of guys.

The Colts’ offensive line, in Fries’ opinion, has grown stronger on the field as a result of those team-building activities.
According to Next Gen Stats, Indianapolis has the fourth-highest run block win rate in the NFL (73 percent). The Colts’ pass protection has also improved after they allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL last season (60).
With only 12 sacks allowed through the first five games this season, they are tied for eighth place.

The Colts’ best rookie, Josh Downs, is he?

 

Downs is vying to be the top rookie for the Colts after Richardson was excluded due to his injuries.
Against the Titans, the wide receiver showed he can be more than just a slot receiver by recording six catches for a career-high 97 yards.
The 38-yard pass from Richardson down the left sideline was the one that Downs caught most impressively, high-pointing the ball in between two defenders.

According to Jim Bob Cooter, the offensive coordinator for the Colts, “It was really good to see Josh show that versatility just to the defense.”.
The more routes Josh Downs can record where he is getting open, the better.
“If you’re a defense, you’re trying to figure out who this Josh Downs guy is and how we defend him.

The rookie is currently doing this better than any other Colts player, according to a joke made by Minshew during training camp about Downs’ best skill being getting open.
According to Next Gen Stats, Downs has the joint-seventh-best NFL wide receiver separation of 3 point 5 yards when he is targeted.

Is Zaire Franklin defending himself here?

 

Due to a groin injury, Shaq Leonard, a fellow linebacker, was unable to play last week.
In years past, this would have been a notable absence.
The Colts defense hasn’t faltered without Leonard on the field, though, thanks to Franklin, as Leonard tries to recapture his All-Pro form. The Colts’ single-season tackle record was broken by the seventh-round pick from 2018 last season, and he has continued on that path this year with 69 tackles in five games, which ranks first in the league.
The only NFL player this season with at least 10 tackles in each game is Franklin.

 

Since I was probably in eighth grade, my mentor—who is essentially my dad—has been telling me I can’t tackle, Franklin said, grinning.
“I would advise dropping him where he is, I believe. I want the person I strike to fall exactly where I struck them.
I also enjoy throwing running backs backwards.
Getting up after falling backwards is something that a running back should not have to do all the time, in my opinion.
“.

Last week, Franklin and company dominated Titans All-Pro Derrick Henry, culminating in a huge fourth-down stop late in the game.
Travis Etienne, a running back for the Jaguars who is coming off a 136-yard and two touchdown performance against the Buffalo Bills, will present them with a new challenge.

 

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