Colts naughty or nice list: Who deserves a gift on Christmas and who’s getting coal?

Some Indianapolis Colts players and staff have excelled in 2023, while others have unfortunately fallen short of expectations.

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Naughty No. 2: Darrell Baker Jr.

It's been a rough season for cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. The 2022 UDFA began the year as a starter and, despite early difficulties, has continued to play often due to persistent health issues in the Colts’ secondary. Unfortunately, Baker’s performance has not improved over time. QBs throwing at Baker this year complete 66% of their attempts and average a passer rating of 113.2 to the tune of 15.3 yards per completion.

What’s worse is how many different ways Baker has struggled. He is often burned down the field or beaten on contested catches. Baker also makes way too many errors whether it's unnecessary fouls or missed tackles. With JuJu Brents healthy again, we’ll likely see Baker’s role diminish but the damage from his poor play throughout the season has already been felt.

Nice No. 2: Julian Blackmon

The Indianapolis secondary was widely viewed as a weakness coming into this season and that was before a slew of injuries depleted the defensive backfield. The Colts have had to rely on rookie and free-agent DBs all season and the results have been mixed at best. However, veteran safety Julian Blackmon has been a bright spot in an inconsistent and vulnerable secondary.

Blackmon has been as reliable and solid as ever. He has been playing at a high level and statistically, he’s been one of the best safeties in the league. Beyond the numbers, Blackmon has been a much-needed leader for a very inexperienced unit. Most important of all, he has been available all year and has started every game so far.