The Indianapolis Colts left Frankfurt, Germany with a win and a .500 record at 5-5, but the team is also going into its bye week with quite a few concerns. One of the biggest concerns following the Week 10 win is linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who didn’t have a great game against the New England Patriots.
Leonard has had a lot of eyes on him all season. After missing nearly all of last year with multiple back surgeries, everyone was excited to see how one of the league’s best players would return. The amount of eyes on Leonard grew in recent weeks as the linebacker consistently told the media that he wasn’t happy with his playing time.
After making it a story for three weeks, fans and media members were locked in on Leonard during Sunday’s game to see how he was playing during the snaps he was on the field. Unfortunately, Leonard didn’t put on the kind of show he was hoping for. Instead, he may have had his worst game of the season.
Shaquille Leonard struggles after asking for more playing time
Leonard finished with nine total tackles, which was the second most for the Colts on Sunday. However, only two of those tackles were solo tackles, and the real story is about the tackles he didn’t make. Leonard’s two worst plays on Sunday came on back-to-back snaps. The first play was a screen pass to Ezekiel Elliott, which Leonard read perfectly. However, he ran right pass Elliot and missed the tackle.
A play later, Elliot ran the ball and accelerated right past Leonard. The sequence led to Colts fans jumping on social media and criticizing Shaq Leonard. Some fans argued that Leonard can’t miss opportunities like that after complaining about playing time, others explained that he’s just not all the way back yet, and some fans went as far saying that Indianapolis needs to move on from Leonard in the offseason.
To be fair to Leonard, this season has been a roller coaster for him, but Sunday was especially bad; it wasn’t an accurate representation of how he’s been playing all season. While he hasn’t been near his best version yet, he hasn’t consistently struggled like he did against the Patriots. In fact, Leonard played arguably his best game in Week 9. Regardless, with his contract situation, it’s certainly a possibility that he could be cut in the offseason if he doesn’t improve his play.
While that’s a discussion for Indy’s front office, Leonard will have the bye week to clear his mind, rejuvenate his body, and prepare to have a much better second half of the season. Strong performances in the final seven games will wash everything else away.
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