Here’s why the playoff hopes of the Colts are in the hands of Gardner Minshew

The Indianapolis Colts have a solid team, but their playoff fate may all come down to what quarterback Gardner Minshew does or doesn’t do.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

When the 2023 NFL season started, the Indianapolis Colts weren’t planning for Gardner Minshew to see the field. Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson quickly proved in training camp that it was time for his era to start in Indianapolis. Once Richardson played in actual game, it became evident that was the case. Unfortunately, a season-ending injury to the throwing shoulder of Richardson led to the Colts hitting pause on the Anthony Richardson era.

The good news, though, is that Indianapolis had Gardner Minshew to lean on, one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. With Minshew under center, the Colts are entering Week 16 as an 8-6 team with a pretty good chance to have an appearance in the playoffs. With just three games remaining in the season, Indy still has a chance to win the AFC South, as the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans are all tied with 8-6 records.

The reason Indianapolis is currently in this position is partly because Minshew has provided the team with some solid play. The biggest reason, though, is because the entire team has been playing really well under first-year head coach Shane Steichen. The offensive line is playing great and Indy is running the ball well, and the defense is taking the ball away consistently and getting after the quarterback. All together, the Colts are a solid, resilient team that finds ways to win games.

Despite that being the case, whether or not Indy makes the playoffs still could ultimately come down to Minshew. Indy’s playoff hopes aren’t hinging on whether Minshew can go out and pass for 300 yards or not; it’s something much simpler. It will all likely come down to Minshew’s ability to protect the football.

Gardner Minshew protecting the ball is the biggest question mark for the Colts

If there is one critique for Minshew during his time as Indy’s QB1, it’s that he can be careless with the football. On the season, Minshew has thrown eight interceptions and also fumbled eight times. As everyone knows, it’s really hard to overcome turning the ball over.

Minshew has thrown at least one interception in six games this season. In those games, the Colts are 2-4. Minshew has had six games without throwing an interception. The Colts are a perfect 6-0 in those games. Simply put, if Minshew doesn’t throw an interception, Indianapolis will win. That’s what the final three games will probably come down to. All three are winable games for Indy. As long as Minshew doesn’t give the ball, and the game, away, the Colts should win out and be in the playoffs.