How challenging has not having Grover Stewart been for the Colts?

The Indianapolis Colts have been without defensive tackle Grover Stewart for two games, and will be for four more games. How have they played without him?
Sep 24, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart (90)
Sep 24, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart (90) / Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive tackle Grover Stewart has been one of the most consistently dominant players for the Indianapolis Colts in recent years. He’s also a phenomenal personality that’s loved by everybody. That’s why it was such a tough hit for the Colts when it was announced that Stewart was being suspended six games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Stewart apologized and expressed that he would never violate the rules intentionally, calling this situation a mistake that he’ll learn from. Still, the Colts will be without one of their best defenders for six games. Stewart has already been sidelined for two, and Indianapolis lost them both, struggling really bad defensively. With Stewart out for at least four more games, let’s take a look a how Indy’s defense has performed with and without him this season.

Colts defensive stats with and without Grover Stewart

Stewart played in Indy’s first six games of the season; the team was 3-3 during that stretch. In those six games, the Colts defense gave up 357.16 yards a game, 113.5 rushing yards a game, and 25.3 points a game. Grover Stewart contributed 20 tackles, two for a loss, and five quarterback hits.

In the two games Stewart has been suspended, Indianapolis has allowed 413.5 total yards a game, 155.5 rushing yards a game, and 38.5 points a game. It’s a small sample size, but it definitely seems like Stewart is missed on the interior defensive line.

The rushing yards per game is the most telling stat, because stopping the run is Stewart’s best attribute. It’s a 42-yard difference without him on the field. But, to be fair, Indianapolis did give up 186 and 164 rushing yards against the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams, respectively, with Stewart playing. That means there’s no guarantee that Stewart would’ve helped Indy stop the run in the last two games, but you’d like to think he’d make some sort of a difference.

It’ll be interesting to see if the defense can pull things together while Stewart is sidelined for these next four games. Regardless of how the Colts perform, the team will be excited to welcome him back in Week 14.