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11/15/2022
<p>Colts quarterback Matt Ryan winds up for a throw during a 2022 preseason game. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)</p>
Colts quarterback Matt Ryan winds up for a throw during a 2022 preseason game. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)

With a 25-20 Colts victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday felt more like a Saturday

After a 'whirlwind' week, the Colts picked up an improbable win with Jeff Saturday serving as head coach

It was in contention for the wildest week the Colts franchise had ever seen.

The only real contender would be the week of Aug. 24, 2019 when the franchise's star QB retired in his prime at the ripe age of 29. But even in the craziness of that instance the Colts had 15 days to prepare a backup to step into the starting role.

This week Jim Irsay and company had fewer than six days to work a Super Bowl-winning center and now-ESPN analyst into the head coach of a crumbling 3-5-1 football team.

“It was a whirlwind of a week,” now-starting quarterback Matt Ryan said.

Just for reference of the unprecedented previous week for the Colts the team: Lost 26-3 to New England Patriots while compiling 121 yards, fired head coach Frank Reich, shocked the NFL community when hiring Jeff Saturday who had no previous NFL or college coaching experience, promoted assistant QB coach Parks Frazier to the offensive coordinator/player caller at the age of 30, had a press conference that would be understated as peculiar, and lastly just won 25-20, accumulating 415 yards with 15-year veteran Matt Ryan, who was benched two weeks prior for second-year QB Sam Ehlinger, back under center.

The largest problem facing interim coach Jeff Saturday was the impropriety of the highest paid offensive line in the NFL. This unit came into Sunday allowing a league-leading 35 sacks and the eighth-lowest yards per carry with 4.1.

Saturday, one of the greatest offensive lineman in Colts history, anchored the front five for 13 years which included a Super Bowl victory as well as another appearance in the championship. It’s understandable that the Colts’ line showed improvement.

The Colts line took the call to action and delivered, allowing Ryan to be taken down just one time and bursting out for 6.9 rush yards per carry.

The singular consistent aspect of this team so far has been the defense led by coordinator Gus Bradley.

The defense ranks ninth in yards per game allowed, 14th in touchdowns allowed, and 14th in sacks, all without all-pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

Interior defensive linemen Deforest Buckner and Grover Stewart are playing at a pro bowl level while linebackers Zaire Franklin and Bobby Okereke are contributing the most either has in their careers.

Then there is Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, has been steady all season for this Colts defense. He had two separate game-winning plays against the Broncos week five, and Sunday he deflected the pass in the endzone intended for Davante Adams.

The Colts have upcoming matchups with the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles, 3-6 Pittsburgh Steelers and 6-3 Dallas Cowboys.

Predicting week to week with this team is similar to guessing Indiana weather, but some things we do know: Saturday is a leader. It is too early to tell on his ability as an NFL coach, but he will stop at nothing to turn this franchise around. Parks Frazier has plenty of potential as a play caller, and Gus Bradley has this defense playing as one of the best units in the league.

Oh, and Matt Ryan had his longest career rush of 38 yards at the prime age of 37.

“I’m not used to being in the open field that long…and maybe if I was a little faster I could’ve scored,” Ryan said.

Welcome to the Jeff Saturday (1-0) era in Indianapolis.


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