What did the Colts learn from the Week Two game in Jacksonville? Where should there be concern?
Hats off to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a great game! With formalities out of the way, the Colts have some issues that need addressing immediately. There are five key takeaways that point to what is hurting the team and what may help the team.
Takeaway One: Colts Need Wide Receiver Depth Urgently
There’s no secret that the Colts have one of the most inexperienced wide receiver rooms in the league. With Michael Pittman, Jr. and Alec Pierce both being injured for Sunday’s game, the Colts were bare bones at receiver. Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin were Week Two’s main targets. Despite Campbell being the most tenured receiver on the team, he came up short, with zero catches on only two targets. Similar to last week, running back Nyheim Hines was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. That is just unacceptable.
There were chances during the offseason when General Manager Chris Ballard could make a push for a veteran (Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., etc.) but chose not to. The Colts can’t rely on just one target. This season will get worse each week for the offense if there is no attempt to bring in proven talent. Is there Pro Bowl talent left in the free agent pool at wide receiver? (No, not really, but some veterans could help this team turn the corner on offense.) The Colts need help urgently.
Takeaway Two: Colts’ Defensive Line Pressure Is Lacking
Led by an All-Pro defensive tackle Deforest Buckner, the Colts defensive line has not performed up to expectations yet. With just three total sacks on the season (two from Kwity Paye, one from E.J. Speed), pressure has been a missing piece of the recipe. Bringing in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley seemed to be exciting and hopeful. Returning three of the starting defensive lineman was also a huge plus. (Continuity was one of the major upsides that separated this line from others in the league.)
As Bradley came over, he brought defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who was with Bradley in Las Vegas last season. Already knowing the scheme should have made this an easier transition for Yannick ,but he has yet to show up. The younger talent of the starting four defensive linemen (Grover Stewart and Kwity Paye) have created mild hope. Combining for 20 tackles, two sacks, and five tackles for loss, they both have not only put in work on the field, but in the stat books.
Whether it’s a game plan by the opposition or the effort of the Colts’ defensive lineman, getting embarrassed two weeks in a row is cause for concern. As the season progresses, the hope should be that the group will make the necessary adjustments to become top ten in the league.
Takeaway Three: Colts’ Coaching Mistakes
Frank Reich has been the subject of some criticism lately. Questionable play calling, time management, personal choices, and the list goes on. Certainly, his seat is getting warm. Wildcat formation on fourth and goal, running the team’s All-Pro running back only nine total times in a crucial game, and offensive tempo, have made fans question Reich’s play calling. Simply put: Coach Reich, it’s getting ugly out there for you, for the team, and for the fans.
The trust is slowly slipping away. Do what you do best on offense. Run the damn ball. As seen in the season opener, especially in the fourth quarter, the team has the talent to stage a comeback with the running game leading the way.
Be assertive on defense and stop letting the plays trickle in and hit opponents in the mouth. As a team, it seems like the Colts have been way too relaxed, and there has not been enough sense of urgency. For the nine quarters of football played by Indy thus far, only one was filled with passion, aggression, and heart! Switch some things up. Make the best play call, not the off-script ones, and play to the team’s strengths!
Takeaway Four: Colts Offensive Line Issues
Arguably, the most important positions in football are offensive linemen. They are what makes the “motor” of the team go or they can simultaneously stall an entire game plan if not developed properly. The difference between having a good offensive line and a bad one is whether your team is in the playoffs or is picking in the top ten picks of the next draft.
Matt Pryor is not the left tackle that the Colts need or deserve. Inconsistent play from a position of importance should be not only a red flag, but an area that needs addressing today. Pryor is good enough to be in the NFL ,but he is not starter material. The team should look to play rookie Bernhard Raimann so that he can show why he is a better fit for the role. (Truthfully, left tackle has been an area of concern since Ryan Diem left the team.)
After two weeks of good competition against young and hungry defensive fronts, the Colts need to search for the permanent left tackle of the future. If that position group can keep Matt Ryan healthy, they can be one of the biggest keys to getting the Colts into the postseason.
Switching gears, the league knows about Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson and even Braden Smith, but after that, does anyone strike fear into opponents’ eyes? Absolutely not. (Speaking of Braden Smith, he has been struggling since injuring his tricep last year. Something seems off.)
Takeaway Five: Colts General Manager Chris Ballard
Chris Ballard has made splash after splash in the draft. Drafting pro bowlers at almost every position, Ballard has been subject to a lot of praise. Unfortunately, he has also been subject to a lot of criticism. Ballard drafts well, but his attention to detail ,when it comes to depth, is sub-par.
Depth is crucial to your team’s success. There have been chances to secure above-average depth at wide receiver, offensive line, and even quarterback, but Ballard has not delivered. His seat is not warm, but there is some cause for concern. Chris, the team needs help!
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