After abysmal 2022 season, Colts are significantly better at protecting quarterback

In 2022, the Indianapolis Colts were one of the worst teams in the NFL at protecting the quarterback. A season later, that has changed dramatically.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The 2022 season was so bad for the Indianapolis Colts that it resulted in a ton of change for the franchise. Winning just four games, Indianapolis fired head coach Frank Reich and released quarterback Matt Ryan. Those two key spots were filled by Shane Steichen and Anthony Richardson (and Gardner Minshew). While those were definitely the right moves, the Colts didn’t really make a change to the position that was their biggest problem last season.

While a lot was bad for Indianapolis in 2022, all the problems started with Indy’s offensive line. Despite being a highly-paid unit that the Colts had committed to building for years, the offensive line was abysmal last season. They struggled to run block and were even worse at pass protection. That was evident in the 60 sacks Indy allowed last season— the second-most in the league by just three.

Fortunately, the offensive line has completely turned things around. Entering Week 16 of the 2023 season, Indianapolis has only given up 33 sacks— just over half of what Indy alllowed last season. 18 teams have given up more sacks than the Colts this year. Unless Indy has a historic collapse in the final three games of the season, it won’t be near the amount of sacks it allowed a year ago.

Colts have been really good at pass protection in 2023

As stated earlier, Indianapolis didn’t make many lineups to the offensive line group. The biggest change was bringing in a new offensive line coach in Tony Sparano Jr., and he simply challenged the group to be better, while also focusing on all the small things that improve technique. Under his leadership, guys like Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith have got back to their best forms, and young guys like Will Fries and Bernhard Raimann have made significant leaps in their development. Additionally, the unit has been able to handle various injuries.

All of this has led to a promising season for the Colts. Indy is currently 8-6 with a good chance to get into the postseason and the offense has been really good throughout the year. Indianapolis is currently averaging 24.6 points a game, which is eighth-highest in the league. As long as the offensive line continues to play like it has been all season, the offense should remain productive.