Who’s the offensive X-factor for the Colts in 2023?

June 14, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) gives a
June 14, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) gives a / IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

As the Indianapolis Colts try to turn things around, they’ll need the offense to be much more productive. Which offensive player could be an X-factor?

Last season, the Indianapolis Colts lost a lot of games, and were tough to watch, because the offense was abysmal. Indy averaged 311.6 yards per game, 27th in the NFL, and 17 points per game, tied for 30th in the NFL. The offense simply couldn’t get going, and that’s a big reason why the Colts now have a new head coach and quarterback.

Now, Indianapolis will try to turn things around in 2023. Despite how bad last season was, there’s some promise surrounding Indy’s offense. With Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., and Alec Pierce returning, along with newcomers like Anthony Richardson, Josh Downs, and Shane Steichen, there’s a chance the offense could be much more exciting and productive.

It could also be another disappointing year. Everything, of course, all depends on the performance of certain people. So who could be considered as an X-factor? Is it Jonathan Taylor and his health? Could it be a second-year Alec Pierce? Maybe it’s the the rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson?

Jared Dubin of CBS Sports made his pick in a recent piece where Dubin named an offensive X-factor for all 32 teams. For the Colts, Dubin chose Anthony Richardson as the offense’s X-factor.

Anthony Richardson named Colts offensive X-factor

Dubin called Richardson a “one-of-a-kind athlete,” and argued that Indy’s season could be determined by how well, and how quickly, that athleticism translates to the NFL.

"How he’s (Richardson) able to make the transition to the NFL, and how immediately he’s able to translate that athleticism into production -- whether on the ground or through the air -- is the single-most important factor for the Colts’ offense this season."

Jared Dubin (CBS Sports)

That’s certainly a fair point by Dubin; a lot of hopes and expectations are being placed on Richardson’s shoulders. However, he’s not the offense’s X-factor, the offensive line is.

Last season, the offensive line was the biggest problem for the Colts. The unit couldn’t consistently run block, and the group was really bad in pass protection, giving up 60 sacks— the second-most in the NFL in 2022. If that’s the case in 2023, the Colts will likely have another bad season.

The offensive line will largely determine how quickly Richardson’s athleticism can be productive in the league. If he’s under constant duress, sure, he’ll be able to make a couple of defenders miss, but he won’t be able to develop and adequately produce. So while his transition is certainly important for the Colts, it hinges on the quality of the offensive line. That makes the line the real X-factor for Indy’s offense in 2023.