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For the first time in a long time, it’s been a quiet offseason in Indianapolis. Most of the talk has been about Anthony Richardson, Michael Pittman Jr., Laiatu Latu, and Adonai Mitchell. And rightfully so, because if the Colts want to accomplish any of the goals they have for themselves, all of those guys will have to make a major impact.

However, every season there are players that seemingly pop out of nowhere that weren’t on anyone’s radar. They might not explode onto the season, like Puka Nucua, but they give you quality production. For example, Will Fries and Samson Ebukam were key contributors last season and nobody really thought to mention them a year ago around this time.

It’s worth mentioning… this is NOT a prediction-type film room. I’m not forecasting who I think is going to “have a breakout season”. I try and stay away from that sort of content, because philosophically, I don’t think it’s quality analysis. There’s so much that goes into player development, much of it behind the scenes, that you’re really just throwing darts at a dartboard to see what sticks.  This is simply an opportunity to highlight under-the-radar players whose impact often goes unnoticed, so that the casual fan can keep an eye out for these guys moving forward. Ok, now to the article…


Segun Olubi


Segun Olubi, signed to a future/reserve contract by way of San Francisco, had a really impressive 2023. Richard Smith, the Colts linebackers coach/run game coordinator, is one of the better developers of talent on the staff. I think we’ve seen that from the defenses he coached in his 46 years, but also in his 2 years with the Colts. However, all credit for player development should go to the player 10 times out of 10. Segun absolutely deserves his flowers. After Zaire Franklin couldn’t go vs. Carolina, Segun served as the new MIKE LB and green dot guy for the defense. That’s an incredibly difficult ask for a practice squad LB in his second year, but that’s the NFL.

Despite the INT and some nice tackles near the LOS, the start wasn’t perfect (which is to be expected). For a defense predicated on stopping the run, Olubi and the front 7 struggled more than you’d hope.




Here’s an example of miscommunication after a fly motion insert on a Duo run from Carolina; a common play that was run by teams who game-planned for Indy last year, because it presents a lot of issues the Colts’ wide 9 nickel fronts. By motioning Mingo into the core, he’s created an extra gap in the run game that the defense has to account for at the snap of the ball. It becomes a lot easier to do this as an offense when you’re facing a front that has wide DEs because you have so much extra space to work with.

Quick tangent, but when the Colts face 3×1 formations they will almost always set their 3-technique to the 3 WR side. This allows Olubi to be what they call an “Apex” player. An Apex player lines up in between the #3 and the EMOL (end man of the line of scrimmage) and is not in the run fit. This allows the Colts to defend RPOs better from 3×1 because if they had their 3-technique away from the receiving threats, Olubi is now becomes a conflict defender, since he would have B-gap and zone coverage responsibilities..

Anyway, the motion turns Olubi from that Apex player to a Stack B player. Because the Colts are rarely outnumbered in the box, due to their reliance on MOFC calls, they run a gap control system. One man for every gap. It is a part of Gus Bradley’s philosophy of letting players think less and play faster. Olubi should have the B gap here, but for whatever reason shoots the A-gap. Maybe it was something he saw in his film study. Maybe he got confused with the motion. Maybe he thought Dayo was gonna stunt in that gap and Kenny Moore would be a force player. It’s tough to tell. But either way, Shaq was not happy after the snap, nor should he.

But, Segun learned a lot from those mistakes.

He saw some action late in the season as a Sam backer against Las Vegas and Houston, who are heavy in 21, 12, and 13 personnel.




Here’s an awesome play from Week 18 vs. Houston that probably goes for a TD if not for Olubi. The run is away from Olubi so his job is to be a cutback player. That becomes very important on these outside zone runs since most explosive plays happen when the ball bends back inside.

The biggest threat to the outside zone plays (especially with an uncovered center) are the backside LBs chasing. It’s hard for the backside guard and tackle to pass off a 2i and seal off the backside LB, so the pressure is on Olubi to take advantage.

EJ Speed does a great job hammering the block (outside control and forcing the ball back inside) and letting Olubi make the tackle. The way this plays out, the margin for error here is slim and Olubi makes a great open-field tackle.




This is another really cool play from Olubi. The Texans are running counter from 21 personnel. Without getting too much into the weeds, Olubi does a nice job overlapping and making another key tackle. Overall you could really see an impressive jump in his decisiveness when fitting the run. He also probably benefitted from playing SAM as opposed to the MIKE, but either way, you could see him grow as a LB.

Bottom line: Segun is a guy that kinda flies under the radar, but someone who made some nice strides as the year went on. At this stage, everything is a competition, but he gives you some upside as the third LB in base defense, and some confidence in your backup Mike should Zaire Franklin ever be unavailable.


Anthony Gould


Anthony Gould has never taken an NFL snap, though I think it’s likely what his role may be in Indianapolis: the Isaiah McKenzie of 2024. I’ve talked about this earlier in the offseason, but the offensive staff had a clear vision for Isaiah McKenzie. For reasons neither you nor I are privy to, his tenure in Indy was very short-lived. However, the role in this offense will likely not be.

Anthony Gould has all the traits Isaiah McKenzie had, and all the traits you want in a fourth receiver. First and foremost, you have to be able to play on teams. When you get deep down the depth chart, you better be able to play special teams… or what’s the advantage for a team to roster you? Second, in this scheme, he has the playmaking speed, quickness, and threat with the ball in his hands to be a factor on screens, sweeps, etc. This becomes important when you talk about how Steichen utilizes this player in the run game.




Whether it’s simply to make defenses communicate, or manufacture better leverage for combo blocks, Steichen uses purposeful motion to make life easier on the back and the OL. Theoretically, you could draw these up on a chalkboard and they would be effective, but it was Isaiah McKenzie’s ability to be a “gadget” player that makes this difficult to defend. You have to be able to key in on guys like this when they pose that threat. Even if they might not always get the ball, if you don’t run with these motions, you’re gifting the offense free yards. Essentially it’s a decoy, but it’s important to this offense.





Here’s a rep that really puts that theory into motion. The Colts are running a misdirection HB toss. This has WingT elements written all over it. Notice how the fake to McKenzie takes not just the LB (who has him in man) out of the run fit, but also keeps Demario Davis from fitting the toss to JT. The Saints don’t have a spill or overlap player on the second level. It’s not very often that you whiff on your crack blocks on a toss and still get a 13-yard gain on 3rd and 2.

Nonetheless, this is a great example of how having a guy like McKenzie is used as a mechanism to create conflict and confusion for a defense in the run game.

The Colts realized that Josh Downs had the speed to make defenses chase him around the field, so he took over some of this role, but having Gould on the team can produce identical results while giving Downs a breather on run downs.

And then there’s Gould’s ability with the new kickoff rules. I think I’ll save that for a future film room. But from watching some XFL reps, NFL special teams are poised to have the largest role it’s ever had in terms of factoring into the outcome of a game. For that reason alone, we probably aren’t talking about Anthony Gould enough.


Raekwon Davis


A classic buy-low-develop-high move from Chris Ballard. Raekwon Davis was a productive player at Alabama, who maybe hasn’t put it all together, judging from his stint in Miami. But I think he has some upside for one reason and one reason only: scheme fit. 

There’s definitely some projection here. In the NFL he’s played as a true nose guard in “read-and-react systems”, typically from four-point stances that better help him control blocks and read the play. He’s now transitioning into a polar opposite scheme in Gus Bradley’s attacking wide 9 front, which is predicated on get-off, motor, and making plays in the backfield. Fundamentally, they are different roles. But because Davis is an impressive athlete and is an overall massive human, I think you can feel good about his ability to transition to a 2i and make life tougher on centers and guards that are trying to combo to the second level.




You can see the power he brings on tape, and it’s much needed on this Indy DL. It’d be nice to see Grover and Davis take steps in their pass rush and give Indy some more interior pass rush production.

Grover Stewart has the most thankless job in all of football. He has to take on 600 lb blocks to keep guys like Zaire and Speed clean to make plays. If he does it, nobody notices because he didn’t get the tackle. If he doesn’t, or even worse isn’t on the field, then people start to get frustrated when the DL is getting gashed up front. Having Raekwon is an important depth piece because god forbid Grover can’t go? Well, you have another massive human coming down the pike ready to play.


More from The Blue Stable:


Film Room: Josh Downs

Film Room: The Tight Ends

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