clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steelers vs. Colts: 5 Questions with the Enemy, Stampede Blue

Five questions with Chris Shepherd of Stampede Blue

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts IndyStar Staff-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers haven’t lost to the Indianapolis Colts since George W. Bush was in the White House in 2008, and they’ve never lost inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Pittsburgh’s last loss in Indianapolis came inside the RCA Dome in 2005 when they lost 26-7 on Monday Night Football.

The Steelers will need to continue that streak to keep any realistic playoff hopes alive, and we sat down with Chris Shepherd of Stampede Blue to get insight on the Colts ahead of Week 15.

1. The Colts have a playoff spot despite losing Anthony Richardson. It feels like Shane Steichen was the right hire, is that fair?

Yes. Steichen has done a good job game planning and running the offense week in and week out. The offense with Richardson was the most explosive unit in the NFL during the short time the inexperienced rookie was healthy, so Colts fans are obviously bullish on the future with this head coach and quarterback pairing.

2. The Colts are allowing the fourth most points per game in the NFL. What is their biggest weakness defensively?

Defensively it’s been a weird year in Indianapolis. Some weeks they look like a better than average defense that can rush the passer and stop the run. Some weeks they give up 34 points to Jake Browning. Some of their high point totals came, in no small part, due to Gardner Minshew’s run of insane turnovers. In weeks 6 and 7 Minshew turned the ball over 4 times in each game and the Defense gave up 37 and 39 points respectively. So it isn’t like they’ve always been put in position to have success. Although, in week 8 they gave up 38 points to a terrible Saints offense, so there is absolutely blame to go around.

Their biggest weakness would have to be the secondary. They’ve started a 7th round rookie and a former UDFA at cornerback for most of the season and while Jaylon Jones and Darrell Baker have done admirably given the circumstances, they’re a liability. You can turn on the tape and watch the coverage they played against the Bengals and you can easily understand why Indy lost the game. Gus Bradley was terrified that his corners would get burned if they weren’t playing 10 yards off the line on most snaps. Gus was right to be worried. I think both Jones and Baker have a place in a rotation at Corner but neither should be starting.

3. The Colts offense doesn’t have a lot of elite playmakers. Who should Steelers fans be most aware of?

Michael Pittman Jr. is 5 catches away from 100 and 16 yards away from rolling over 1000 on the season, I would be very surprised if he didn’t eclipse both milestones (and probably in the first half). Josh Downs is very difficult to cover in one on one situations. He wins quick against man coverage with great routes and sure hands. Downs is going to be a good player for a long time.

The past couple of games Minshew has decided to finally throw the ball down field (honestly didn’t know he could) and Alec Pierce has been given more chances to make plays on deep balls than he did in the entire first half of the season. Pierce often excels in those deep, contested catch situations but the young receiver has been inconsistent finishing those plays. He wins with very good straight line speed and between his 6’3” frame and his 40.5” vertical, not many cornerbacks can jump with the kid. He might not pull any deep shots in, but I expect them to throw a couple shots his way.

4. The Colts are scoring 24.2 points per game, while the Steelers are allowing 19.2 points per game. Do you see Indy scoring a lot of points?

Absolutely not. For a big chunk of the season the Colts offense could be almost completely shut down by loading the box and daring Gardner Minshew to throw into advantageous passing situations. Minshew couldn’t pass his way out of a bear front against the Carolina Panthers and they needed 2 pick-sixes to score 27 points. The next week the Patriots did the same thing and Indy scored 10 points. Coming out of the bye against the Buccaneers, Shane Steichen had a fantastic plan and to his credit, Minshew executed very well.

In week 13 against a bad Titans team the Colts were losing 16-17 with 0:19 to play in the third quarter. Indy blocked a punt and scored on the play. Minshew then threw an interception on the 2-point attempt and the Titans returned it for a rare pick-2. Then, on the next possession, the defense forced another Titans punt and the Indy special teams unit blocked their second punt of the game (scored as a fumble and recovery). The Colts took possession at the Titans 7 yard line and they kicked a field goal. They needed a missed Titans PAT to send them to overtime where Mishew put together a very good drive- glad he had it in him.

I told you all of that to tell you this- the Colts have scored a lot of points this year and while some of them have come from very good coaching and solid execution, a great many of them have come from wild scenarios like the one above. The team is scoring points but I assure you it is not a good offense.

5. DraftKings has the over/under set at 42.5. Where are you leaning?

If I have to bet the over/under on this one I’m taking the under. I expect Mike Tomlin and that Steelers defense to force Gardner Minshew into having a very rough day. On the other side of the ball, Grover Stewart returned from suspension last week and the Indy defense stopped the run better than they had since week 6. If Indy forces Mitch Trubisky to throw the ball a lot, I don’t see either team scoring that many points.