Colts explain why Jelani Woods had limited snaps against Cowboys and it’s not an acceptable answer
After a breakout game in Week 12, Jelani Woods had limited snaps in Week 13 as the Indianapolis Colts fell to the Dallas Cowboys.
In Week 12, everyone finally got to see the Jelani Woods that got the football world excited during the draft process. It was his 10th game of the season but the first game where he really looked like the 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end that can run well and dominate the NFL. Although the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans were still excited about Woods’ eight receptions for 98 yards. Obviously, he and the Colts would build off this performance and make Woods more of a focal point in the offense.
This expectation led to fans scanning the injury report daily as Woods dealt with a shoulder and quad injury. Everyone wanted to see that he was practicing so that he could be on the field against the Dallas Cowboys for a follow-up performance. Well, Woods did return to practice on Friday and was active for the game, however, he wasn’t on the field, not a lot at least.
After the best performance of his young career, Jelani only played 15 snaps on Sunday night in Dallas. He was targeted just four times and had two receptions for 28 yards. This obviously made a lot of people upset. The Colts have a young, physically imposing talent and they aren’t even using him. That’s maddening, especially since Indianapolis is struggling to win games.
Interim head coach, Jeff Saturday, was asked on Monday about Woods’ lack of snaps and Saturday gave an honest and transparent answer, and although it was an understandable explanation, it’s not an acceptable reason to not have a talented player on the field. Saturday essentially said that Woods kind of got forgotten about in the flow of the game, especially since it was a competitive contest entering the fourth quarter.
Colts can’t afford to forget about Jelani Woods
Saturday is right that Indianapolis was in a close game, but that doesn’t mean that Woods couldn’t have made a difference. Adding another talented player into the mix would’ve just given Indy a better chance at controlling a tight game instead of letting it get away. Additionally, there were some very obvious moments where Woods could’ve made a difference, and Saturday even alluded to one unintentionally.
When Stephon Gilmore intercepted Dak Prescott and set Indianapolis up in the red zone, that would’ve been the perfect time to make Jelani Woods the focal point of the game plan. After all, Woods is 6-foot-7, so he’s blessed with a natural advantage in the red zone that not many have. That was clear early in his rookie season when he caught two touchdown passes in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Colts target Woods that series, they probably get seven points and go up on Dallas 17-14. Instead, Indy settled for three and still trailed.
It’ll be easy to pin this on Saturday and say he forgot about Woods in the flow of the game because of his lack of coaching experience but that’s just a lazy take and also not the real problem. The blame for this failure has to be shared by all the offensive coaches. Woods wasn’t even actively involved when Frank Reich was coach. Obviously, Woods is a rookie and is still growing and developing, but he should be on the field, especially after what he did against the Steelers. One of Indy’s coaches should’ve stepped up during the game against Dallas and made the wise suggestion to get Woods more involved.