The Indianapolis Colts preseason came to a close on Thursday Night Football in Philadelphia against the NFC Champion Eagles. Colts delivered a 27-13 victory. Head coach Shane Steichen chose to play most starters the entire first half and it was a great time for this young team to continue to get more game reps as we head to the opener in two weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are some of my observations from the preseason finale.
Anthony Richardson’s talent
This was the longest playing time we have seen from Richardson this preseason, after playing just three series in the opener and sitting out the second game. We finally saw why the Colts drafted him with the No. 4 pick. His ability to extend plays and speed were on full display. Compared to last season when we had a statue in Matt Ryan, Richardson was able to elude sacks with his speed and awareness and turn broken plays into positive yardage. He also was not afraid to go through his reads and not force a bad throw. His stats were not pretty but you can see the impact his talent is making so far for this offense.
Colts running backs without Jonathan Taylor
We got to see another game without Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss and the remaining running backs continue to impress. Deon Jackson and rookie Evan Hull saw time in the first half with Kenyan Drake, Jake Funk and Jason Huntley finishing the game. All indications point to Indianapolis keeping Moss, Jackson and Hull regardless of what happens by Tuesday's JT trade deadline and roster cuts.
Both showed that they can handle the load with Hull showing off his blocking abilities and got into the endzone as well. Jackson can be that change of pace back. Primary backup Zack Moss is expected back by the opener as he recovers from a broken arm suffered in training camp.
Improvement in all three phases
After watching two very sloppy preseason games, Indianapolis looked more polished in the finale. Anthony Richardson looked more comfortable in the pocket and seems to have a better grasp of the system Steichen is trying to run week in and week out. On defense, they cleaned up the mistakes from the past games and seemed to ramp up the intensity a bit as well.
On special teams, outside of the opening kickoff where they missed a tackle that setup a short field touchdown, everything seemed buttoned up. With Ashton Dulin out for the season, cornerbacks Tony Brown and Jaylon Jones appear to have stepped in at the gunner position on special teams which Dulin excelled at.
53-man roster starting to take shape
The final preseason game can show you a lot when it comes to the construction of the opening week roster. The Colts have a plethora of decisions to make in certain key positions. Those include running back, wide receiver, tight end and cornerback. You could add offensive line if the Danny Pinter injury sustained tonight ends up being serious.
Obviously, Taylor is the major domino on the running back position. With wide receiver, how large will special teams loom for the final spot in that room? Will Indy go with a youth movement in the tight end room and release the veteran Mo Alie-Cox? And finally, with JuJu Brents missing another preseason game, will we see Jaylon Jones be the best CB from the draft class? It appears that Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. will open up as starters on either side, with veteran Kenny Moore II returning in the nickel corner spot. Final rosters are due at 4pm on Tuesday.