Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss on the field at the same time, locker room vibes heading into Week 7

The Colts mailbag is back for Week 7 with questions on how the Colts can use Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss on the field at the same time and what the mood is at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center heading into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. 


The Colts Mailbag is back! readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.

Missed out this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for the next Colts Mailbag by clicking here. I'll also be checking the comments on our Official Colts Podcast YouTube page and will answer some listener questions in here, too.

Let's get after this week's questions:

Charles Ryder, Indianapolis: Why don't the Colts have plays where both Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss are in the backfield at the same time? It seems to me that that would bring a certain amount of uncertainty to the defense as far as not knowing who's going to get the ball, or the screen pass.

JJ Stankevitz: I wrote about this a bit in last week's mailbag – essentially, teams around the NFL rarely have two running backs on the field at the same time – but since the Colts ran two plays with Taylor and Moss on the field at the same time last week against the Jaguars, let's look at it a bit further.

The first of those two plays had Taylor lined up to quarterback Gardner Minshew's left, with Moss to the quarterback's right in shotgun. At the snap, Moss ran to his right while Minshew faked a handoff to Taylor, who was also going to the right (field) side. The fakes froze linebacker Foyesade Oluokun for a split second, allowing left guard Quenton Nelson to climb to the second level and deliver a block on a screen pass to the boundary to wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. The play gained seven yards on second and nine.

The Colts kept Taylor and Moss on the field for the ensuing third and two with the same setup: Moss to the right of Minshew and Taylor to the left. At the snap, Moss came across the formation to the boundary while Minshew handed off to Taylor. Jaguars linebacker Devlin Lloyd's first step was toward the boundary – where Moss was running – and he was sealed off the play by Nelson. The right side of the Colts' offensive line got some good push and Taylor plunged forward for a first down.

"Sometimes to get both of those guys on the field at the same time may be a little bit of a different look for a defense," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. "Meanwhile, we're just getting two good football players out there and letting them do maybe some different things as they go. So yeah, it's something that as the year goes – we'll keep an eye on. Some weeks, that's a good idea. Some weeks, that's not the best idea. It's a little bit opponent-dependent with that stuff. I think the running back position, that group, is doing a nice job – really playing good ball and as things continue to develop, we'll certainly look for ways to best utilize our guys to go out there and have success and help us win."

But again: These plays are relatively rare around the NFL. Entering Week 7, teams on average have run eight plays with two halfbacks on the field at the same time; the Colts only have two, but have also only had Taylor and Moss available for two games. More teams (nine) have run zero two-halfback plays than have double-digit two-halfback plays (seven). Think of plays with Taylor and Moss on the field more as a changeup than a fastball: Some weeks it'll be used more than others, and other weeks it'll be used sporadically.

Cayden Burroe, Poughkeepsie, Ark.: Hey JJ, out here in Arkansas, curious as to how the locker room situation is. I'm sure the Colts and the coaching staff are frustrated and concerned with Anthony's injury, Grover's suspension, and the loss to Jacksonville. I'm just checking how our morale is at the moment.

JJ Stankevitz: You're right, Cayden, this hasn't been the most ideal week in terms of losing the team's starting quarterback for the season and its dynamic run-stuffer for the next six games, all while coming off the Colts' second loss to the Jaguars in 2023. But this is where the culture head coach Shane Steichen has worked to build over the last eight months matters: The vibe around the locker room has been good, with the focus on a physical matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and a general feeling of "everything's ahead of us" with 11 games to go.

Landen Suman, St. George, Utah: I am becoming a BIG Grant Stuard fan. The dude just flies around the field and had a very nice shoe lace tackle against Henry last week. Is there any chance the colts bring him in every now and then even when Shaq Leonard gets back or is he just a special teams ace/backup LB?

JJ Stankevitz: I love watching Stuard play – that dude is an absolute missile on the field, especially on special teams. But the trio of Leonard-Zaire Franklin-EJ Speed are pretty well-established, and Leonard is coming off a strong game in Jacksonville.

"I thought Shaq, his movement and change of direction – more involved in making plays," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "We saw a good step on his part. He's back to being that emotional player for us, and on the sidelines. Like I told you before, I think we're looking at this big picture for him so it was a good step for him in the right direction."

If the Colts need a linebacker in a pinch, though, Stuard's physical, attack-oriented style of play has plenty of value. Not bad for the guy who was Mr. Irrelevant in 2021.

Jim Price, Wabash, Ind.: Please explain why it takes someone longer to get out of Concussion Protocol than someone else?

JJ Stankevitz: It's pretty simple, even if the answer is kind of vague: Every concussion is different, and every person – football player or not – responds to a concussion differently. The NFL's concussion protocol is methodical and intentional, and it's been rare to see a player sustain a concussion and clear protocol within a week, although Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox did between Weeks 5 and 6. But that doesn't mean Alie-Cox is tougher than other players around the league who've taken a week or two to clear protocol. He just cleared faster. That's about what it is.

Michael Allendorfer, Noblesville, Ind.: Which uniform number has only one player wear it? Answer: Arthur Donovan #70

JJ Stankevitz: This was fun, and led me to the Colts' uniform number history this week. There are two other numbers worn by only one player in Colts history: No. 22 (Buddy Young) and No. 89 (Gino Marchetti).

Also, the three most common numbers Colts history, per Pro Football Reference, are 26, 31 and 86, which have been worn by 29 players each.

View the top photos as the Colts return to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center practice fields Wednesday preparing to face the Cleveland Browns.

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