Is Gardner Minshew the most important player on the Colts roster?

How important is veteran backup quarterback Gardner Minshew to the young 2023 Indianapolis Colts team?
Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

After the Indianapolis Colts’ 31-20 Week 2 victory over the Houston Texans, there was one underlying issue that has come to the forefront of all Colts fans minds as the season will continue to progress. That issue is the health of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, as we have completed two games and Richardson has not finished either one of them.

He left the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 on the last drive with a bruised knee. In Week 2, Richardson looked great in two drives but took a bruising hit on his second touchdown run and later self-reported concussion symptoms and then failed the testing and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Backup veteran QB Gardner Minshew stepped in both times and was particularly great against Houston.

Colts must keep Anthony Richardson healthy

The Colts are not accustomed to having a quarterback that can move like Anthony Richardson. When Andrew Luck was drafted as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning in 2012, we did see a glimpse of what that type of quarterback might be. But even Luck wasn’t as mobile as Richardson is. Recent Colts quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan were both statues in the pocket, and while Carson Wentz could use his legs in a pinch, he was more accustomed to pocket passing.

While the mobility aspect is great with these new age quarterbacks, it brings more fear of injury to the position. Richardson has taken some hits this season and it’s something that needs to be corrected going forward. The offensive line has held up well this season but it’s the designed runs and scrambles where Richardson has taken the hits. He must learn to slide or get out of bounds more to protect not only the Colts investment but himself as well for years to come.

While Minshew brings experience to an otherwise young QB room, the most important aspect he brings is his knowledge of Shane Steichen’s offensive scheme. He learned it as the backup in Philadelphia behind current starter Jalen Hurts. While Steichen has shown an affinity for having multiple schemes for different quarterbacks, Hurts and Richardson share many of the same traits. Having the veteran leadership for Richardson with not only the scheme but overall knowledge of these new NFL defenses that Richardson will experience, is a great resource. With Richardson being a raw candidate coming out of Florida, having Minshew’s voice in the room will continue to be a helping hand towards his development.

How important is Gardner Minshew?

Currently, Richardson has not cleared concussion protocol so Minshew Mania could return again this week. At Wednesday’s press conference Shane Steichen mentioned that Minshew’s best characteristic he has as the team’s backup is his ability to come in and play with limited reps. He credits his preparation and work ethic with not only himself but with the room to his continued success.

With Minshew under center, you cannot count Indianapolis out of any game, as he showed in Houston. Minshew didn’t miss a beat from the first fill-in snap to the final whistle, as he finished completing 19-of-23 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. The coaching staff and players never panicked and a slight change in play calling away from Richardson, but it was credit to his preparation. Since it now appears that the Colts are looking to win games this season and not tank, having Gardner Minshew as the backup and the tutor for Anthony Richardson makes him the most important player on this Colts roster this season.