Bleacher Report Believes Colts a 'Boom or Bust' Team for 2024

The Indianapolis Colts have an exciting roster that could finish 2024 with a wide range of outcomes.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, during a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, during a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston / Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY
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The Indianapolis Colts are approaching the 2024 regular season with sky-high potential. While the expectations are relatively low given the overall youth of Indy's squad, Shane Steichen likely wants the team to be playoff-bound this year and build off the nine wins from 2023.

In Brad Gagnon's recent Bleacher Report article detailing the eight 'boom or bust' teams for 2024, Indianapolis makes the list. Gagnon goes into further detail for each entry, discussing the best, worst, and realistic scenarios for each franchise. In order are the entries from Gagnon's slot for the Colts.

Best-Case Scenario:

Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson looks to throw the football behind two linemen (blue jersey with white pants/numbers)
Oct 8, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) draws back to pass during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Scheer-USA TODAY Sports / Bob Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

After a year of mostly observing and learning, Anthony Richardson takes off in Year 2 and a Colts team that managed to win nine games without him in 2023 takes the AFC South in '24.

Brad Gagnon | Bleacher Report

Referring to the 2023 campaign, Steichen helped a Gardner Minshew-led Colts team nearly make the playoffs and win the AFC South championship. While they fell short, a 9-8 finish is commendable given the number of injuries and inexperience on the roster.

If Anthony Richardson can level up in year two and continue developing with a coaching staff constructed to build a quarterback, then the AFC South could be in the clutches of Indianapolis in 2024. However, it all depends on Richardson's health and ability to stay on the field. It may sound redundant, but Indy probably doesn't want to run back another year with a backup signal-caller, even if it is Joe Flacco.

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Worst Case Scenario:

Two Colts players (all-white jerseys with blue trim) walk off the football field following a tough loss.
Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (56) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) leave the field after losing to the Bengals on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, after Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. The Colts lost, 14-34. / Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Richardson either again can't stay healthy or is rusty in his first full NFL campaign, and an Indianapolis team that didn't do much to address a poor defense in the offseason actually takes a step backward in the win column.

Brad Gagnon | Bleacher Report

This is a possibility given Richardson didn't play any football after week five of the 2023 season. With such a long hiatus and not a big sample of starting experience before the shoulder injury, could it hamper Richardson in 2024?

My vote is, probably not. However, Richardson still has a mere 17 starts between his short college career at Florida (13 starts) and four games in the NFL. While he has incredible potential, he may have enough tape for NFL defenses to at least gameplan for his dynamic running and strong arm. This could force Richardson to throw more than Steichen may want.

The health of running back Jonathan Taylor also factors into this argument. If Taylor has to miss any time, the duties fall more than before on Richardson's arm, feet, and ability to dissect defenses. He showed high-level glimpses last year, but also had moments with true rookie mistakes. We'll see if Richardson can avoid a pitfall in 2024 and if this worst-case scenario is just a topic for this article.

Realistic Scenario:

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (blue jersey with white trim/helmet/pants) runs away from a defender with the football.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) rushes the ball Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, during a game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. / Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Regardless of what happens with Richardson, the Colts might still be a year away. They'll win eight or nine games but miss out on the playoffs.

Brad Gagnon | Bleacher Report

While it's enticing to think about Adonai Mitchell as a big-time threat at receiver, he's still 21 years old and must grow into the offense with the other three pass-catchers (Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, and Alec Pierce.) Also, while Downs was great in his rookie campaign as a slot-receiving option, Pierce is yet to establish himself as a consistent option to pass to.

There is also the matter of Indy's tight end situation. Currently, it is a mystery with Jelani Woods not playing a single snap in 2023. While Kylen Granson played well in his steed, Indianapolis doesn't have a clear leader of that position group. It remains to be seen what happens with such a crowded and competitive spot in Steichen's offense.

While the defense boasts talented youngsters like JuJu Brents (cornerback), Jaylon Jones (cornerback), and rookie Laiatu Latu (defensive end), they are still growing into starters. Last year Brents only played nine games due to multiple injuries and Jones had moments where he struggled in coverage to conclude 2023. For Latu, he could be a generational pass-rusher, but it's far too soon to tell yet and no team can rely on a rookie before the season starts.

The Bottom Line

Indianapolis has a boom-or-bust type of roster, but that's not a bad thing. To have this designation means either an NFL team is all-in for a Super Bowl run or young and developing, and Indianapolis qualifies as the latter.

Richardson could be in line for a massive season if he can continue progressing. Last year in his limited exposure many were surprised by how NFL-ready he looked in the pocket, as well as operating an offense. To reiterate, Richardson has to remain on the field this time to have any kind of impact. We'll see how everything plays out for a Colts team that looks exciting, determined, and ready to compete with the rest of a talented AFC South division.  

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Drake Wally


Drake Wally covers the Indianapolis Colts at Horseshoe Huddle and co-hosts the Horseshoe Huddle Podcast.