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In the history of the NFL, Anthony Richardson is expected to rank third among the youngest starting quarterbacks

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    Sixty-eight years have passed since the last time a rookie quarterback led the Colts to a victory in the season opener.

    At Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Anthony Richardson will be awarded the opportunity to rewrite the history books as the third-youngest starting QB in NFL history (Tommy Maddox at 21 years, 81 days and Sam Darnold at 21 years, 97 days old). Richardson grew up in Gainesville, FL., 80 miles southwest of Jacksonville, and will make the NFL’s most anticipated debut against the reigning AFC South champion Jaguars.

    Colts first-year head coach Shane Steichen and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter watched Richardson progress and bounce back from mistakes throughout the summer, all while putting more on the plate of the 21-year old. Steichen acknowledged the coaching staff researched Richardson’s college tape at Florida to get a better understanding on how to tailor the offense.

    “Sometimes you look up and there is a play that maybe a quarterback has a lot of comfort with and they ran it quite a bit in college and it’s a play that is a good offensive play but maybe you don’t use it a ton within your previous offense and you’re like, ‘You know what, I think we can get this thing going,” Jim Bob Cooter said during Tuesday’s coordinator zoom meeting. “I think this quarterback likes this play, I think we’re pretty good at it. I think this guy can run this route and that guy can run that route. Those things kind of naturally happen when you’re doing that sort of research behind the scenes. I think it’s a good, sort of off-season policy when you got a young quarterback to dive into their past and know what they’re comfortable with.”

    Cooter was the passing game coordinator for Jacksonville last season and is well aware of any possible “permutation” of coverages or stunts the Jaguars’ defense will use to attack his rookie quarterback.

    “It’s a tough defense,” Cooter said. “Being around those guys last year, getting to know the guys and watching them compete week in and week out. They are long, they are fast and they are athletic. They are an aggressive-minded defense – They’re not afraid to blitz you from any direction at any time with any of their guys.”

    The Colts coaching staff is continually challenging the offense by adding new checks and adjusting on the fly to ensure Richardson understands the concept of the play design and what the coaches are trying to accomplish on each play. Cooter is open-minded to new concepts and play designs that can help excel the development of Richardson.

    “I would say day in, day out as we go through training camp – we try to continually challenge our guys mentally,” Cooter said. “Obviously, they are going through what they are physically going through practice – how many reps they get and all that stuff. Mentally, we’re trying to keep things fresh for them, give them new ideas. Sometimes, make them work a little bit more day in, day out to sort of stay on top of things mentally. Maybe give them a new check, give them a new adjustment, give them a new defensive look that we’re preparing for. We’ve been working through that for the entire off-season and training camp, that’s a little bit of a part of our process and he’s handled that stuff well.”

    2021 All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor will miss the first four weeks of the season amid his contractual ‘hold-in’ with Indianapolis and was thus kept on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list last Tuesday. Steichen mentioned the Colts ground game will take a running-back-by-committee approach early in the season, but will opt to ride the hot-hand if a player catches fire.

    Zack Moss returned to the practice field and is listed as RB1 on the Colts unofficial depth chart ahead of Sunday’s season opener, but his game status remains questionable as he recovers from a broken right arm sustained during training camp on the first practice in pads.

    “I mean, I’ve been staying up on the plays and things like that, but you can’t really get into that until you start doing them 100 percent and getting that contact and getting the feel for everybody,” Moss said. “The offense is really good and the guys make my job a little bit easier. I just have to work off of them. I think it’ll be something that I can get back accustomed to pretty decently.”

    Backup RB Deon Jackson took first-team reps throughout the majority of training camp and will carry some of the workload during Taylor’s absence. Jackson is coming off a 2022 campaign where he played in 16 games and took 68 carries for 236 yards and one touchdown.

    The intricate details when creating dynamic play designs on a script aim to highlight the capabilities of the intended receiver or ball carrier. To combat the underlying issue of rookie QBs transitioning from a college-style playbook to a pro-style offense, Steichen adjusted the offense to fit Richardson and implemented the slide run-pass-option.

    “We are going to try to make sure we have the best plan to utilize our guys and give ourselves a chance to have success offensively,” Cooter said. “We like the group we got, the guys have been practicing hard, working hard. Like I said, part of what we’re doing in some of these meetings here behind the scenes today is making sure we use our personnel the right way. How much are we playing each guy? Do we want to put this guy on that player or do we want to sort of let one guy take them all? We’re talking through all that stuff, trying to do our best to figure out the best policy for our guys this year.”

    The Colts hold a 17-5 all-time record when hosting the Jaguars, emerging victorious in each of the last five meetings in Indianapolis. A new era of Colts football will officially be underway in four days, revealing a brand new offense the coaching staff has arduously worked on for months.


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