Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson notched his first career win on Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Houston Texans in a momentous divisional matchup. Adding on, Colts head coach Shane Steichen grabbed his first win as a head coach against Houston's DeMeco Ryans.
Richardson left the game early in the second quarter with a concussion, yet still managed to account for two rushing touchdowns in the start of a dominant team performance by Indianapolis. Backups won the game for Indianapolis as second-string quarterback Gardner Minshew II and running back Zack Moss combined for over 250 yards of offense.
Defensively, the rushers looked to be in midseason form as they brought down C.J. Stroud six times in a commanding performance. Every sack was from a different player, demonstrating the depth of the Colts front seven. Adding onto the sacks, defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo forced an early fumble from Stroud that led to Richardson's second touchdown of the day.
Colts currently rank fifth in NFL in sacks through two weeks
The Colts defense showed why they're the fifth-highest paid unit in the league as they dominated the ground game against Houston, allowing only 52 rushing yards on the day. Indianapolis has eight total sacks on the year while adding on nine tackles for a loss in two tough divisional games.
Rising star linebacker Zaire Franklin is leading the NFL in total tackles with 30 through Week 2, demonstrating his value next to All-Pro Shaquille Leonard. Rounding out the linebacker group is E.J. Speed who signed a two-year extension this past spring. Speed is tied for fourth place in the league in tackles for loss, showing just how dominant the Colts linebackers are.
On the line, defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart have proven their veteran value to a young Colts roster. The two have combined for 21 total tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble heading into Week 3.
On the ends, a combination of 2021 picks Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo along with offseason signing Samson Ebukam have established themselves as proven pass rushers after two games. Ebukam, who last played for an elite defensive line in San Francisco, decided to take his incredible athleticism to Indianapolis where general manager Chris Ballard values players who bring speed and strength.
Can the front seven win the game for Indianapolis against the Ravens?
Heading into Baltimore, the Colts face their biggest challenge of the season so far as they go head-to-head with the 2019 MVP in Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have started off the season hot and are coming off a road win against the Cincinnati Bengals. With 415 total yards last weekend, the Ravens proved how efficient they can be offensively.
Indianapolis will need to contain Lamar Jackson, which they have struggled with in the past. In the Colts vs. Ravens 2021 matchup, Jackson accounted for over 500 yards of offense and four touchdowns as he tore apart the Indianapolis defense. While this year's unit is mostly revamped from years prior, the Colts still face a big threat in the backfield.
This Ravens' offense is in new hands this year after former offensive coordinator Greg Roman resigned during the offseason. Their new play-caller is former University of Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships. Baltimore currently ranks sixth in rushing yards this season despite the loss of starting running back J.K. Dobbins in Week 1.
Indianapolis' star playmakers will need to limit Jackson's impact on the game and keep him contained in the pocket. Letting a quarterback with that much speed have the freedom to scramble is a losing strategy, so Paye and Odeyingbo collapsing the pocket early will limit Jackson's playmaking ability in the open field.