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5 questions with Stampede Blue: What to expect from the Colts’ new-look offense?

Related: 5 Questions with Pats Pulpit: Can Frank Reich Outcoach Bill Belichick?

Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After winning their Week 8 contest in New York, the New England Patriots will return home with a chance to improve to 5-4 on the year: they will welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Gillette Stadium for a 1 p.m. ET game on Sunday, Nov. 6.

In order to get a better understanding of New England’s upcoming opponent, we exchanged questions with Chris Shepherd of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Stampede Blue — the SB Nation community for all things Colts.

Here are our answers to his questions, and here is how Chris answered ours.

1. How has Sam Ehlinger looked as a passer? What has he provided that Matt Ryan didn’t, and have there been speed bumps due to the veteran’s benching?

Ehlinger looked better than anyone could have expected. With that said we have a really small sample size to go off of but in his lone game he completed almost 74 percent for 201 yards but the most telling stat was that he put up 8.74 yards per attempt. Ehlinger challenged all three levels of the field, he made good decisions and was a pleasant surprise. Again, I can’t overstate how much it was just one game and there’s still a lot we don’t know about the kid.

Late in the game last week when the Colts had a chance to close out the Commanders, I found myself thinking “I wish we had Matt Ryan for this drive” because Ryan would have led a four minute drive and the Colts would have won. With that said, I’m not sure the Colts would have been in that position had Ryan played the rest of the game. Ehlinger took two sacks but he escaped probably 5-6 others with his mobility. Ehlinger’s pocket awareness and mobility are head and shoulders above Ryan and the Colts offensive line is so bad, that’s probably more important than any benefit the veteran could give.

As far as other speed bumps go, yeah the veteran Colts locker room seems to have been pretty upset with Ryan’s benching. They’ve all said the right things but reports from inside the building suggest that a lot of people are upset. And I get it. When you build a really good roster around a revolving door at QB and you finally think you’ve found the right guy but then in the middle of the season it’s announced that a second-year former sixth-round pick is going to be the starter for the rest of the season... Yeah, it probably feels like the rug is getting pulled out from under you a bit. There weren’t any signs that the team wasn’t playing hard or waving any white flags against the Commies but if losses keep piling, it could get pretty ugly.

2. Is the Colts’ offensive line enough to keep the run game afloat with Jonathan Taylor unable to play?

The line has been improving, especially opening holes on the ground. They’re still not playing anywhere near the level they were last season and pass blocking is still rough. But Deon Jackson is probably a better pure runner than Nyheim Hines — and I’m happy that Hines got out and to a contender. But as far as purely replacing with Taylor can give you, Jackson has looked good when given the opportunity. But JT is a special back and I’m just not sure they’re going to be able to run the ball that effectively without him. I’ll just say I won’t be betting on Jackson to rush for a ton of yards, even though I think the kid is a good backup.

3. Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore are two of the league’s stickier cornerbacks. Where are the vulnerabilities in the Colts’ pass defense?

Actually Kenny Moore in man coverage. Moore is really good when used in different underneath zones. Matt Eberflus used him really well in a hybrid role where he could use his football IQ and instincts to make plays. Gus Bradley hasn’t done much of that and we’ve seen Moore on his island, feet stuck in the sand, with his man on a speedboat three yards in front of him. Gilmore has been good but he is older so he’ll give up the occasional catch here or there but he has been pretty good. The weakest link by far has been Brandon Facyson. If he’s on the field, throw at him. If he doesn’t break up the pass (he won’t) you won’t have to worry about him making the tackle as I can’t find evidence that he actually knows how to do it. Facyson is bad.

4. Who are some lesser-known Colts defenders that Patriots fans should look out for on Sunday?

Well the guy that Colts fans are excited to see will be defensive end Kwity Paye who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Broncos, in what was maybe the most boring primetime game in NFL history. Prior to that Paye had been playing well. I’m not sure you can qualify a former first round pick as lesser-known so I’ll also tell you about Grover Stewart. Big Grove plays 1-tech DT. He doesn’t get much love but he should. He has been dominant inside this season. He’s constantly playing behind the line of scrimmage, moving the pocket and disrupting rushing lanes. Stewart has been the best defender Indy has had this season and the Colts defense is actually decent. So if you don’t know about Grover Stewart, you should and you’ll hear his name called a lot on Sunday.

5. The Colts are currently 5.5-point underdogs according to DraftKings. How can the Colts pull off an upset in Gillette?

It all starts on defense for the Colts. The defense is the reason the Colts have been in all but one game this year and it’s the reason they were able to upset the Chiefs. If the defense keeps it close, there’s always a chance. But the offense... man this offense has been awful and it has been awful because the system requires the line to play well and it hasn’t. So on offense, if the line can improve and Sam Ehlinger continues to grow as a player, maybe they score enough to get it done. I’ve said it before and I feel comfortable saying it again- first team to 20 will win the game on Sunday.

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