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New Orleans Saints defense preparing to face confident Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew

'One of his biggest traits is  not even physical. I think it's his mental fortitude and his mental toughness'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7 of the 2023 NFL season.

Call it moxie. Call it swagger. Call it extreme confidence.

Whatever the preferred term, it applies to Indianapolis quarterback Gardner Minshew, who has taken over the position for the Colts now that rookie Anthony Richardson has had shoulder surgery and is ruled out for the rest of the season.

The Colts, 3-4 entering Sunday's game against New Orleans (3-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, are 1-2 in Minshew's starts, with him completing 75 of 122 passes for 861 yards and four touchdowns, with four interceptions, in those games. Minshew also has been sacked 12 times and lost four fumbles in his starts.

But in the Colts' last game, a 39-38, last-second loss to Cleveland, Minshew completed 15 of 23 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. He was sacked four times, lost three fumbles and ran for 29 yards on three carries.

"I think he plays with a swagger, I think he has tremendous confidence," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said. "I think he's got good mobility to get himself out of difficult situations. He generally throws the ball with good timing and accuracy.

"More than anything else, I just think he's got some moxie about him and you can see that his team believes in him and they play at a high emotional level when he's in the game."

Indianapolis enters averaging 25.4 points (tied for sixth) and 361.1 yards (10th) per game, the most potent offense New Orleans has faced defensively. But the Saints, at least in two past encounters, have had success against Minshew.

In 2019 with Jacksonville and '22 with Philadelphia, Minshew completed 32 of 61 passes for 437 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, in losses to the Saints. He was sacked eight times – six times last season – and fumbled twice, recovering both.

But those games were with different teams.

With the Colts, he has a familiarity with Coach Shane Steichen's offensive system – Steichen was Minshew's offensive coordinator last season in Philadelphia. And with running back Jonathan Taylor rounding into form (75 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, three catches for 45 yards against Cleveland in his third game this season), Zack Moss (114 carries for 523 yards and two touchdowns) having ably handled rushing duties in Taylor's absence, and receivers Michael Pittman (42 catches for 489 yards and two scores) and Josh Downs (33-401-2) helping balance the offense, Minshew has an array of teammates to help against the Saints.

But it begins with the quarterback.

"Those guys have been able to win a few games with him under center," Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "He's been in this league for a few years, and he's seen a lot and he's played a bunch for a guy who's considered a backup.

"But obviously, he's a talented player that can make every throw. He's like an annoying scrambler, too, something that's really been kind of nagging us. We've got to do a good job of bottling him up in the pocket."

"I think the main thing he does is, extreme confidence," defensive tackle Khalen Saunderssaid. "I feel like every guy in the league, and almost every quarterback in the league, is here because they're premier athletes and they're top-of-the-line guys. When you have that in mind, and you have the confidence in mind to kind of move around and play like more of a vet – that's one thing I think Gardner does a good job of.

"No matter where he's at, every time you hear about him doing something really good with that team. That's nothing but respect for him, going to a new team and taking the right approach and working hard at it. One of his biggest traits is not even anything physical, I think it's his mental fortitude and his mental toughness. He's a great quarterback but that mental part of it – you can ask any quarterback around, any good quarterback has had to have a strong mental side and extreme confidence as well. And he has that."

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