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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Stampede Blue

Some information given to us courtesy of Stampede Blue’s Chris Shepherd

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In preparing for Sunday’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts, Stampede Blue’s Chris Shepherd and I sat down for a small Q&A for one another’s publications.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your sports betting needs this season.

1. Two games into the season the Indianapolis Colts sit at 1-1 with their new head coach and rookie quarterback. Is this about where you had the team expectations? What have been the surprises?

1-1 isn’t that surprising but the way we got to 1-1 sort of is. Anthony Richardson’s play has been (though abbreviated) more developed than most expected. Had you been in the Stampede Blue writers discord and seen the talks we had leading up to the draft you would have seen me be willing to die on several hills that all sort of built to Richardson-isn’t-a-project-mountain. So in that regard, no, it hasn’t been surprising. A relief? Yes. I appreciate that he looks good for several reasons, one of them being all of those discussions that currently make me look smart-ha but it’s early.

But the way we got to 1-1. Indy played the Jaguars tough for 3.5 quarters before the wheels fell off. It happens. But then they went out and dominated the Texans. And this isn’t me trying to dunk on a division rival. I get that it ended up being a two score game but it was 28-10 at halftime. The Colts scored 3 points in the second half and Houston scored 10 in the fourth quarter. The game was never close.

And honestly, that was surprising.

2. Anthony Richardson did not practice on Wednesday due to suffering a concussion on Sunday and he remains in concussion protocol. What’s the confidence in backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II?

Did you just ask about the confidence of Minshew-Mania? I’m kidding. But if we look back to last season when he was with the Eagles he went 0-2 filling in as a starter but just looking at the Cowboys game, he went toe to toe down to the very end of the game. Ultimately the Eagles turned the ball over four times (2 fumbles lost, 2 interceptions) to the Cowboys one turnover and that’s what made the difference. Even still the game ended 40-34 in favor of the Cowboys but had Gardner cleaned up his game (responsible for three of those turnovers) the Eagles had a good chance to steal one on the road against a good divisional opponent.

At the end of the day there’s a reason Minshew signed a one year $3.5 million contract. But that said, with Minshew in Steichen’s system it’s tough to find a better backup. I’m not saying Indy is going to win the thing, but I think Minshew can keep it competitive.

3. If you were the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, where would you attack the Colts’ defense? Where could the Ravens offense find success? Which players/groups/things should they avoid?

This one’s easy. Find cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. and whoever he’s covering, gets the ball. Every play. Don’t dial up anything deep, because the defensive line is really good. The linebackers, also good. If for some reason you can’t find DB Jr. find Dallis Flowers and throw it his way. It’s almost like general manager Chris Ballard built the 2023 Colts roster like he wanted his rookie quarterback to build a lot of confidence during practice by throwing to his receivers because these cornerbacks are rough.

Avoid throwing at Kenny Moore, not because I think he’s great. He actually struggles some in man coverage. But he’s an above average to average defensive back and you could be throwing it at two guys who might have trouble making some other team’s practice squads. So just do that instead. Don’t overthink it, you don’t have to scheme anybody open. Slants, curls, digs, your worst route runners will get open against these guys.

Also, unless it’s Lamar scrambling, I wouldn’t count on having a lot of success rushing the ball. The Jags broke out late with a long rush after the game had been decided but outside of that one run, nobody’s had any success trying to move that front seven.

4. Who are two Colts players (one offense/one defense) Ravens fans should pay specific attention to in this game that aren’t household names?

On offense it’s tough because like you mentioned, we’re probably getting a heavy dose of Minshew. So I’m not sure who his go to’s will be. That said, one guy that has taken a big leap in year three is tight end Kylen Granson. Granson is undersized but is a high effort blocker, has sure hands and creates plenty of yards after the catch. He won’t remind you of Todd Heap but I expect him to finish the season with solid tight end production.

On defense the choice is obvious and I’m glad I’m talking directly to Ravens fans because if there’s a fanbase that can appreciate a good 1-tech defensive tackle, it’s you folks. Grover Stewart is peaking. He’s unblockable one on one and the problem with that is, you can’t double him because the guy next to him is DeForrest Buckner. Grove is going to wreck the interior of your offensive line, all day. This isn’t some sort of weird “our nose-tackle is elite” trash talk. The sky is blue. The grass is green. Grover Stewart is a problem.

5. The line for this game, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, is Ravens -8. What are your thoughts on this line?

That line is probably pretty good.

I see this one going a lot like week one did for the Colts. The Indy offensive and defensive lines are going to keep them in the game until well into the second half and the Ravens playmakers will eventually break the game open. I think this one is going to feel uncomfortable for Ravens fans for longer than they expect but they’ll be happy in the end. This Colts team is better than anyone expected them to be, but it feels like they’re a couple years away from being where the Ravens are right now.