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What was Shane Steichen thinking on the Colts’ last offensive play?

Shane Steichen has been great for the most part in his first season as the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach, but it’s tough not to wonder what Steichen, who’s the Colts’ offensive shot-caller as well, was thinking on what turned out to be his team’s final offensive play of the 2023 NFL season.

With 1:06 left in the game, and the Colts down 23-17, Indianapolis had the ball on the Houston 15-yard line on fourth-and-1. Quarterback Gardner Minshew tried to drive the defense offside before calling a time out, and then, THIS happened. A bad throw from Minshew, and a bad catch attempt from undrafted rookie running back Tyler Goodson, and the Colts’ postseason hopes went right down the drain.

Having Taylor off the field in that instance was certainly… interesting. The star back had left the field earlier in the game with a heel injury, but on the drive that led to that last failed play, he carried the ball nine times for 23 yards. Maybe Steichen thought Taylor needed a breather, or perhaps Taylor re-aggravated his injury, but that put the Colts at a personnel disadvantage. Taylor had run 30 times for 188 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Secondly, while the Colts throw the ball frequently on fourth down — Minshew had 20 fourth-down attempts coming into this game — and while 17 of those passes came out of shotgun, by rolling with shotgun and taking Taylor out of the game, the Colts were telegraphing their intent to Houston’s defense. Maybe the play call would have worked had Goodson caught the ball, and we’d prefer to deal with process over outcome, but when the outcome takes you out of the playoffs, that’s a tough one.

Third, Minshew had completed 13 of 24 passes for 141 yards in this game, and he was inaccurate more than he was accurate. So again, the play call was fine. But the circumstances surrounding it will draw questions through a long offseason for the Colts.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire