Indianapolis Colts Week 17 Stock Report
Of course, that doesn't mean that everybody else's sights have to be set on one Week 17 game.
Even if the Colts beat Tennessee, they need eight other games outside of their control to go their way in order to make the playoffs. The Colts have not earned a playoff spot, and they have not played like a team that will do anything noteworthy in the playoffs.
The players and coaches have to focus on that final game, certainly. Any chance at a playoff spot has to be taken seriously. The rest of us? We'll look to both Week 17 and the future for this week's stock report, a future that holds much more promise than the rest of 2015 does.
Stock Down: Colts Quarterbacks
Once in possession of one of the league's best quarterback situations, Indianapolis has seen injuries take their toll in 2015.
From Andrew Luck to Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst to Stephen Morris, the Colts have had quite the journey in the quarterback department. Now, with Whitehurst and Hasselbeck both going on the injured reserve list this week, the Colts are down to the league's leftovers.
Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley split most of the practice reps Wednesday, according to the Herald Bulletin's George Bremer, and one of the pair will likely start Sunday.
Those who have watched the Colts quarterbacks over the last four or five weeks will think that it can't get much worse, but having to go to the depths of signing players like Freeman and Lindley shows that it can always get worse.
Stock Up: Frank Gore
Much like last season, Frank Gore saved his best performances for the final weeks.
Gore ran for 85 yards on just 15 carries Sunday, including two tough touchdown runs, aiding the Colts in their few marches up the field in the first half. It was the first time since Week 6 that Gore averaged more than five yards per carry, and it was the most total rushing yards for him since Week 5.
Looking like his old self, Gore managed to break a few big runs in the first half despite his lack of speed, with his vision and tackle-breaking abilities doing the heavy lifting.
The Colts did struggle to run the ball in the second half, however, as Gore ran for just 13 yards on nine carries.
In the end, defenses have been too quick to stack the box against Indianapolis, daring the team to throw the ball downfield and rarely getting punished for it. Gore has played well this season, but his stats won't reflect that because of the situation.
Against Miami's porous defense, Gore's final numbers still look good, however, and he may have a chance to do something similar this week. The Titans are ranked 21st in Football Outsiders' rushing defense DVOA.
Stock Down: Injured Reserve Victims
The injured reserve list claims players every year, and the Colts are no stranger to its wrath.
However, they managed to avoid those big season-ending injuries for most of the season. The injury bug cannot be outrun, though, and it was always going to catch up eventually.
For Indianapolis, that was Week 17, although the team shutting down key players for next season could be more of a sign of foresight.
Over the last two weeks, here is a list of the players the Colts have placed on injured reserve:
- OG Hugh Thornton
- TE Dwayne Allen
- QB Charlie Whitehurst
- ILB Josh McNary
- CB D'Joun Smith
- WR Griff Whalen
- DT Billy Winn
That's a variety of players, from offense to defense, third-string to starting. The injury bug does not choose favorites. The rash of injuries has left the Colts bruised and battered as they head into the final week of the season.
It's all just another reason why the team is poised for a first-round playoff exit even if it manages to beat the odds next week.
Stock Up: T.Y. McGill
One of the improved elements of the 2015 Colts has been the depth on the defensive line.
No, the unit isn't anything to write home about just yet, but with Henry Anderson and Arthur Jones returning next season, the unit has a chance to be a real strength.
With players such as Billy Winn and Zach Kerr making plays from the interior, the Colts have already seen that depth come into play earlier this season. But on Sunday, it was undrafted rookie T.Y. McGill who made plays, adding another interior lineman to the Colts' repertoire.
McGill finished with just two tackles, but both were sacks, including a safety on the Dolphins' first series. The rookie did a nice job of looping around the outside of the line on a stunt and closing quickly onto Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. McGill also finished with a third hit on the quarterback and was stout in the run game, although he didn't get any tackles.
This is the time of year when those depth players make the plays that earn them a spot for next season, and McGill took advantage of that Sunday.
Stock Down: Greg Toler
It's been a rough year for Greg Toler.
The veteran cornerback has never been more than a decent starter in Indianapolis, but he's gone through periods of terrible play, and those periods have been more frequent this season.
On Sunday, Toler allowed 93 passing yards in his coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, most of it to rookie DeVante Parker. Of those yards, 49 of them came early in the game, as Toler tripped over his own feet and couldn't play the ball deep down the left sideline.
If it was just Sunday's game, which the Colts won with relatively strong defensive play, it wouldn't be an issue, but it's been a trend for some time now.
In his nine games played this year, Toler has allowed at least 90 yards in seven games, per Pro Football Focus. His passer rating allowed is 118.6. He's allowed three touchdowns in his last three games.
What does Indianapolis do with him? Fortunately, his contract is up after this season, and there doesn't seem any reason to re-sign him. But who will the Colts start opposite Vontae Davis then? Rookie D'Joun Smith was supposed to be the leading candidate, but he barely got on the field at all this year before being put on injured reserve last week. Darius Butler is a decent slot cornerback but struggles on the outside.
That will be one of the key problems for the general manager—whether it's Ryan Grigson or somebody else—to solve next season.