The New England Patriots last faced off with the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 18, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts defended home turf well and got a 27-17 win.
Let’s see what has changed since then.
The following 32 players were on New England’s game-day roster for that 2021 meeting and are still on the active roster in 2022:
QB Mac Jones, RB Damien Harris, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Nelson Agholor, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith, OT Trent Brown, OT Isaiah Wynn, G Michael Onwenu, C David Andrews, OL James Ferentz, DL Daniel Ekuale, DL Lawrence Guy, DE Dietrich Wise Jr., DT Davon Godchaux, DT Carl Davis, DL Christian Barmore, OLB Matthew Judon, OLB Josh Uche, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB Jahlani Tavai, CB Shaun Wade, CB Jalen Mills, CB Myles Bryant, S Kyle Dugger, S Adrian Phillips, S Devin McCourty, K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, LS Joe Cardona, ST Matthew Slater
Offense: The quarterback room is pretty much the same as last year with the addition of one Bailey Zappe. Mac Jones seems to have ended any sort of quarterback controversy with a win over the Jets last week.
Some continuity can also be found in the backfield, even though Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson are now both in Las Vegas. Rhamondre Stevenson will likely be the feature back with Damien Harris — who was inactive last year against the Colts — still continuing to see work. Pierre Strong Jr. or Kevin Harris will be the third active back in this game.
The receiving corps still features the likes of Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. DeVante Parker was added but a knee injury might force him to miss the game. Rookie Tyquan Thornton might therefore play a major role in this game, especially if Parker is forced to sit with injury. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are still the two tight ends and figure to rotate in and out.
The offensive line retains four players who are starters this year, but some shifting has been done. Trent Brown is manning the left side with rookie Cole Strange taking over at left guard. Strange, however, was benched last week so it will be interesting to see how that situation plays out.
David Andrews remains as the center and is a vocal leader on the offense but he remains in concussion protocol, meaning that James Ferentz might be called upon again. Michael Onwenu is now the starting right guard and either Marcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn or Yodny Cajuste will be at right tackle. Whoever is the No. 2 out of the three will likely see reps as a sixth offensive lineman.
No longer with the team are Ted Karras and Shaq Mason, who started at left and right guard, respectively, the last time these teams met.
Defense: The defense retains a lot of the same players it had last year versus Indianapolis, especially in the trenches. Deatrich Wise Jr., Christian Barmore, Lawrence Guy and Davon Godchaux all continue to play prominent roles. Daniel Ekuale and Carl Davis could see expanded roles if Barmore is again unavailable due to his knee injury. Rookie Sam Roberts is also in the mix and could see limited work.
The most significant change has come at linebacker, where the likes of Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are no longer with the team. For comparison, Matthew Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley still are and continue seeing a ton of work. Jahlani Tavai has turned into a player who is on the field a lot defensively, while Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan have also been added to the group and see different roles depending on the week. Like McMillan, Anfernee Jennings was not on the active roster last year as he was on IR but will be in action on Sunday as a rotational pass rusher along with Josh Uche.
Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade all remain at cornerback with Jonathan Jones returning after he did not play in the game against the Colts last year while on injured reserve. Rookies Jack and Marcus Jones join this group and figure to have an impact on this game. They will help fill the void created by the departure of last year’s starting CB, J.C. Jackson.
The same three safeties will see a ton of playing time in Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips; Dugger however, missed last week’s game with an injury and his status for this one is up in the air. If this is the case again offseason acquisition Jabrill Peppers will see an extended role and possibly more game action for Joshuah Bledsoe, who was inactive versus the Colts last year.
Special Teams: The special teams unit is almost identical to last season with Nick Folk and Jake Bailey handling the kicking and punting duties. Joe Cardona continues to be a reliable long snapper, while Matthew Slater is a mainstay on the coverage units.
New additions to the group are undrafted rookies Brenden Schooler, DaMarcus Mitchell and Raleigh Webb who have been menaces on the coverage teams and are helping replace the since-released Justin Bethel as well as the injured Cody Davis. The new kick returner is Marcus Jones, taking over for Gunner Olszewski.
Coaching: Bill Belichick remains as the head coach, but he has a new signal caller on offense in Matt Patricia. He essentially replaced Josh McDaniels who left to coach the Las Vegas Raiders. Joe Judge returned as the quarterbacks coach and as an offensive assistant. Ivan Fears retired and Vinnie Sunseri took over as the running backs coach.
The defensive side of things stays the same with the likes of Jerod Mayo, Steve and Brian Belichick and Demarcus Covington. Cameron Achord is the special teams coordinator with Joe Houston as an assistant.
The following 29 players were on the Colts game-day roster for that 2021 meeting and are still on the active roster in 2022:
QB Sam Ehlinger, RB Jonathan Taylor, RB Deon Jackson, WR Michael Pittman Jr., WR Parris Campbell, WR Keke Coutee, WR Mike Stratchan, TE Mo Alie-Cox, TE Kylen Granson, OL Danny Pinter, OL Will Fries, OT Matt Pryor, OG Braden Smith, OG Quenton Nelson, C Ryan Kelly, DE Dayo Odeyingbo, DE Kwity Paye, EDGE Ben Banogu, DT Chris Williams, DT Grover Stewart, DT DeForest Buckner, LB EJ Speed, LB Bobby Okereke, LB Shaquille Leonard, LB Zaire Franklin, CB Kenny Moore, CB Isaiah Rodgers, S Julian Blackmon, LS Luke Rhodes
Offense: The quarterback position has undergone some drastic changes since last December. Matt Ryan was brought in to be the starter. That did not work out at all, thoughh, and the Colts are now starting second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He replaces Carson Wentz as last year's starter who led the Colts to a win over the Patriots.
The running back is still Jonathan Taylor, who dominated last season against the Patriots but is dealing with an ankle injury. Deon Jackson is officially the pass catching back as the Colts just sent Nyheim Hines to the Bills via trade. Hines had a touchdown in last year's contest against New England.
Michael Pittman Jr. is the clear-cut number one receiver still and Parris Campbell is back with an expanded role. Rookie Alec Pierce will also get a lot of playing time on the outside this time around opposed to T.Y. Hilton. Keke Coutee and Mike Strachan may also rotate in for reps — the former was not with the Colts last season, the latter inactive.
The tight end room consists of returning players Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson. Indianapolis’ third tight end is rookie Jelani Woods, who was added in the third round of this year’s draft.
Indianapolis has seen some changes along its offensive line. Only two members of last year’s starting group resume their roles this season as well: All-Pro Quenton Nelson at left guard and Braden Smith at right tackle. Left tackle Eric Fisher and right guard Mark Glowinski have both left the team; center Danny Pinter is now a backup with Ryan Kelly returning to man his usual position. Fisher and Glowsinski have been replaced by Dennis Kelly and Matt Pryor, respectively.
Defense: The starting defensive line is pretty much the exact same for the Colts. Kwity Paye returns at defensive end, and they brought in Yannick Ngakoue to line up opposite of him. Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner are still the dominant defensive tackles inside. No longer with Indianpolis are Al-Quadin Muhammad and Isaac Rochell, though.
The starting linebackers are the exact same, which makes sense because they are all very solid players. Bobby Okereke, Shaquille Leonard and Zaire Franklin are all mainstays on this defense. Leonard has been banged up and if he misses any time, E.J. Speed will likely get more playing time.
The Colts’ secondary, on the other hand, saw some major changes over the last 11 months. Kenny Moore returns as the slot corner, but they brought in old friend Stephon Gilmore to be their number one guy. Brandon Facyson now lines up across from the former Defensive Player of the Year, while neither Xavier Rhodes nor Rock Ya-Sin are still with the club.
At safety, meanwhile, last year’s starters Andrew Sandejo and Khari Willis are both gone. Julian Blackmon, who was on IR last December, will start at safety, while they also brought in Rodney McLeod Jr.
Special Teams: The special teams unit is almost completely different other than long snapper Luke Rhodes. The new kicker is Chase McLaughlin who has had numerous stints in Indianapolis. The punter is Matt Haack who the Patriots have seen a lot of from his time in the AFC East. They are replacing Michael Badgley and Rigoberto Sanchez.
Keke Coutee will be handling the punt return duties, while Isaiah Rodgers Sr. will be returning kickoff now that Nyheim Hines is gone. Core special teamers George Odum, Matthew Adams and Jordan Glasgow are also no longer with the club.
Coaching: The coaching staff has had some shakeup as recently as this week. Frank Reich is the head coach still and has seemingly had a different quarterback every year. Marcus Brady was formerly the Colts’ offense coordinator, but he was relieved of his duties this week. It is unclear who exactly will be calling the plays, but it is safe to say Reich will be involved.
The new defensive coordinator is Gus Bradley, who replaces Matt Eberflus after he left to coach the Chicago Bears. John Fox is a senior defensive assistant on this staff as well. The special teams coordinator is Raymond Ventrone who has eight years of experience. Bill Belichick had very high praise of Ventrone’s unit this week leading up to the game.