2 Key Takeaways from Indianapolis Colts OTAs and Minicamp

It was a small sample size, but Colts QBs are already turning heads after OTAs and minicamp.
Indianapolis Colts Mandatory Minicamp
Indianapolis Colts Mandatory Minicamp / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Indianapolis Colts officially tied a bow on their pre-training camp portion of the offseason last week. As the team heads into the rest of June and most of July before reporting to Grand Park, there are several key takeaways from this portion of the offseason that could help the team navigate success in 2024.

Admittedly, time wasn't on anyone's side when it comes forming any concrete takeaways from minicamp. OTAs and minicamp don't usually give us a whole lot to chew on (that's a positive, Colts fans), but let's not brush these sessions off the shoulder just yet. Even though the action was limited, there's still a very important question to beg: Who on this roster is turning heads already?

The start of the regular season is still months away, but Colts fans already have some things to feel really great -- and hopeful -- about moving forward.

Anthony Richardson is taking some important steps forward as QB1

It seems that head coach Shane Steichen, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, and Anthony Richardson are setting the foundation for something special next year. After OTAs, Richardson spoke to the media and highlighted how having a full offseason of digesting the playbook is already helping him take some steps forward.

"Last year around this time of year, we were not where we are now. I'm definitely grateful they put all of that on us. It's only going to make us better, so I definitely appreciate it," Richardson said.

To many, this may seem like a run-of-the-mill soundbite, but there are exciting layers to this. Yes, the natural progression and development of Richardson as an NFL QB was always the goal, hence being the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, the growth between the first and second year may be the most critical first step for a quarterback developing in the NFL.

Richardson is speaking with confidence, despite not having played much, and he's at a point where the Colts coaching brass are comfortable enough to let him be tested. On top of that, the academic nature he has seemingly embraced in his preparation with the playbook is astounding for someone as young as Richardson is in his career. Injuries are the elephant in the room, as Richardson has already missed time as a rookie, but his progress outside of the field of play seems to be pretty undeniable.

All of this is talk until he proves it on the field, but it's hard to not feel good about the vibes Richardson is giving off even if we still need to see him back it up.

Joe Flacco looks every bit like a veteran leader the Colts need

One offseason move that seems a bit underrated from the Colts' offseason and minicamp is the performance of backup quarterback and 2023 AP Comeback Player of the Year, Joe Flacco.

Last year, the league saw a ton of backup quarterbacks step up for injured starters. One of them was Gardner Minshew, who took over in Week 5 after the Colts lost Anthony Richardson to injury. Minshew brought the Colts within one drive of a playoff berth, but there was a noticeable lack of explosive plays and experience that close to the postseason. Minshew would go on and join the Las Vegas Raiders as a free agent in March.

To replace Minshew and garner veteran stability in the quarterback room, Indianapolis signed Joe Flacco in late March. With minimal movement in free agency, bringing in Flacco is a critical acquisition and an important insurance policy as he is fresh off of leading the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs in 2023. Flacco was thrust into the starting role in 2023 also after several injuries riddled the Browns quarterback room.

Although not a complete 17-game sample size, Flacco finished as a top passer in Average Completed Air Yards (CAY) rating of 7.5 yards in 2023, just in front of Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud. This NFL NextGen Stat captures the average amount of air yards that a passer throws on completed catches, which is a complicated way of saying Flacco doing well in that category is very good. It speaks to the effectiveness of Flacco's aggressive mentality with the ball in his hands and pushing it down the field successfully. More importantly, these plays result in completions.

Even if Flacco doesn't help the Colts with that on the field, the idea of having that sort of mentorship for Richardson is a good thing.

Ideally, Richardson plays the entire season healthy, but if he runs into any issues, Flacco provides a capable option to keep the team competitive. Flacco's experience, poise, and determination to get the ball down the field made the trip with Joe to Indy from Cleveland, as was seen further in Colts minicamp.

The caveat on these takeaways from minicamp and OTAs is very much so subject to what we see in camp. Although it can be difficult, even unfair, to draw hardline conclusions merely from offseason activities there's plenty to remain optimistic about with this entire roster.