Indianapolis Colts Tap Rookie Anthony Richardson as Starting QB
The Indianapolis Colts named rookie Anthony Richardson their starting quarterback when the regular season opens against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.
The Colts selected Richardson with the fourth-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Richardson, who played his collegiate ball with the Florida Gators, saw his draft stock dramatically rise during predraft workouts.
Richardson impressed scouts with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and 40.5-inch vertical leap. He drew comparisons to Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
Richardson didn’t become a starter at Florida until his junior season, and the Gators went 6-6 last season. He started one game as a sophomore and logged just 13 total starts in college. Despite his lack of experience at the quarterback position, the Colts believe Richardson was the most athletic prospect in the draft.
The Carolina Panthers traded up in the draft to secure the #1 pick from the Chicago Bears. The Colts were initially the favorite to trade up in the draft to snag the Bears’ top pick, but the Panthers outbid them.
The Panthers drafted Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first pick, and the Houston Texans selected Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud with the second pick. The Colts were content with the fourth-overall pick because they were still going to add one of the top three quarterbacks in this year’s draft with Richardson.
Richardson: Shocked Starter
Richardson, 21, thought he would begin the season backing up veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew. It made sense if Minshew was under center in the first month of the season before Richardson was promoted to the starter after he became familiar with the offense. When rookie head coach Shane Steichen made the surprising announcement, even Richardson was caught off guard at the news.
“Anthony comes out with great energy every single day,” said Steichen. “Teammates have been really good for him. Obviously, he’s been becoming a leader as a young guy, taking that leadership role.”
Honestly, I was shocked,” said Richardson. “Still got to work for it despite being granted the opportunity. Still got to work for it because nothing’s handed to you. Got to earn everything.”
Minshew was disappointed that he won’t begin the season as a starter, but he’s been one of Richardson’s biggest supporters.
“He’s a good kid and a good caddie,” Minshew said quoting the cult movie classic Caddyshack. “This is his franchise. That’s the reason they picked him where he is. And he’s going to be really special.”
Minshew began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars before they traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021. He spent the last two seasons as a backup quarterback in Philadelphia. In 24 career starts, Minshew posted an 8-16 record. He went 6-6 as a starter with the Jaguars during his rookie season in 2019.
Colts Unlucky Since Luck’s Retirement
The Colts have struggled to find a franchise quarterback since Andrew Luck prematurely retired before the 2019 season. The Colts cobbled together two winning seasons and one postseason appearance since Luck retired.
Between 2015 and 2022, the Colts qualified for the playoffs only twice and won only one playoff game in 2018.
When Luck stepped down, Jacoby Brissett took over as the starting quarterback in 2019 and the Colts went 7-9. After the Brissett experiment failed to yield winning results, the Colts turned to one-season rentals with veteran quarterbacks like Philip Rivers in 2020, Carson Wentz in 2021, and Matt Ryan in 2022.
Rivers led the Colts to 11 wins and a playoff berth during his only season in Indianapolis, but they lost in the AFC wild-card round. Rivers retired and the Colts brought in Wentz for the 2021 season. The Colts bubbled the playoffs in 2021 despite a 9-8 record.
Ryan struggled last season and started only 12 games in 2022. The Colts benched Ryan, but his backups didn’t fare any better. Sam Ehlinger started three games and Nick Foles started twice.
The Colts fired head coach Frank Reich midway through the season after a 3-5-1 start. Jeff Saturday, a former Pro Bowl center with the Colts, was named as the interim head coach. As a rookie head coach, Saturday went 1-7 for the remainder of the season. The Colts finished the 2022 season with a disappointing 4-12-1 record.
Colts Gamble on Rookie Head Coach Shane Steichen
Steichen, a former quarterback at UNLV, was regarded as one of the NFL’s top young offensive minds. Steichen, who turned 38 in May, spent the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. His playbook was essential to helping the Eagles secure a trip to Super Bowl LVII, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Steichen has experience working with young quarterbacks, including Jalen Hurts from the Eagles during the last two years. He was also the OC with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020 when first-round draft pick Justin Herbert took over as the starting quarterback early in the season.
Steichen spent several years with the Chargers organization dating back to their time in San Diego before the franchise relocated to Los Angeles. Some of his best work as a coach happened when he teamed up with an aging gunslinger entering the back nine of his career. After Steichen was named the quarterbacks coach in 2016, Philip Rivers made three-straight Pro Bowl appearances. Rivers and Steichen developed a tight friendship during their time together with the Chargers. When the Colts were interviewing head coach candidates, Rivers lobbied the Colts to hire Steichen as their next head coach.
Betting the Colts in 2023
The Colts only won four games last season, but enter this season with a win total of 6.5 over/under. The Colts didn’t see their win totals change after they named Richardson the starting quarterback.
According to a “make the playoffs” prop bet by DraftKings, the Colts are a long shot to secure a trip to the postseason at +350 odds. They’re a favorite at -425 odds to miss the playoffs for a third-straight season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the consensus favorite to win the AFC South at -155 odds, and they’re ahead of the Tennessee Titans (+350), Indianapolis Colts (+600), and Houston Texans (+800).
The Colts last won a division title in 2014. They won the AFC South nine times in a 12-year span between 2003 and 2014.
The Colts are a long shot to win the AFC championship at +7000 odds. The Houston Texans are the only team to have worse odds than the Colts to win a conference title.
The Colts are near the bottom of DraftKings’ NFL futures board. They are a long shot at +15000 odds to win Super Bowl LVIII, and the Texans and Arizona Cardinals are the only teams with higher odds.
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