NFL analyst explains what Colts must do to exceed expectations and contend in 2023

The Indianapolis Colts are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, but an analyst believes there’s a path for Indy to be contenders in 2023.
Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles
Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Last season, the Indianapolis Colts were one of the worst teams in the league. Finishing with a 4-12-1 record, Indy had a terrible offense and several embarrassing moments in the 2022 season. That’s why the Colts hired Shane Steichen as head coach, and drafted quarterback Anthony Richardson this offseason. The hope is that they’ll lead a turnaround for Indy.

However, that turnaround isn’t expected to be immediate. With the 2023 NFL season kicking off on Thursday, expectations are pretty low for the Colts. People are excited about the team’s future, but not many people are betting that Indy wins a lot in 2023. This season is expected to be a year of growing pains for Indy.

However, it’s the NFL, and anything can happen. Every year, some teams underwhelm and others exceed expectations. Could the Colts exceed expectations this year? Only the future knows the answer, but, there is a path for Indy to be successful in 2023.

Bill Barnwell, in a recent piece for ESPN, recently listed out how every team could win Super Bowl 58. While trying his best to complete the exercise, Barnwell was honest that it seemed simply impossible for some teams to win the Super Bowl. The Colts were one of those teams. However, Barnwell did explain that Indy could exceed expectations and possibly win the AFC South with “a run-heavy attack” and a strong defense.

Colts could exceed expectations with strong run game and elite defense

Barnwell argued that for Indianapolis to make a deep playoff run, Richardson would need to be a prodigy. A more realistic expectation would be Richardson developing similarly to Jalen Hurts. Barnwell said if that happens, “Indy could make major strides.”

Even still, Barnwell expects the Colts to need help, saying, “It would take the Jaguars and Titans coming up greatly short of expectations.” Indianapolis can’t control what other teams do, but Barnwell does highlight the 2023 path to success for the Colts that many have expressed: run the ball and play good defense.

Not having Jonathan Taylor for at least four games will certainly hurt the team’s run game, but if Steichen can design a productive offense that plays off the run, and the defense is a solid unit that takes the ball away, Indy will certainly be better than people expect.