INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
The Colts got a win they so desperately needed on Sunday afternoon, with the defense and special teams leading the way.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (1-1-1) earning their first win of the season?
-Secondary Changes Prove Beneficial: The Colts had a trio of interesting personnel changes to their secondary on Sunday. First, veteran safety Rodney McLeod supplanted rookie Nick Cross at the starting strong safety spot. After not playing on defense in the first two weeks, cornerback Isaiah Rodgers (24 snaps) spelled Brandon Facyson (46 snaps) more in the nickel package. And then, when Julian Blackmon left the game with an ankle injury in the first half, the Colts turned to rookie Rodney Thomas II, and not Cross, for his first NFL defensive action. This is quite a lot of secondary changes in one week, let alone against Patrick Mahomes. The results were tremendous, as the Colts kept virtually everything in front of him and forced Mahomes to stay away from the back-breaking big plays that typical Chiefs opponents feel every week. What a debut for Thomas II, a 7th round pick out of Yale.
-Defensive Line Disruption, Discipline: A stat line of 1 sack and 5 quarterback hits doesn’t tell the full story in how the Colts defensive line executed against the Chiefs. The group found that proper balance of disrupting enough, but still being disciplined in pressuring the dynamic Mahomes. They forced him out of the pocket, instead of letting Mahomes scramble when he wanted to. As always, the defensive line dominated in the run game. But the job with Mahomes is so unique, and credit to Gus Bradley and his defensive unit for handling that challenge so well.
-Rookies In The Clutch: Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods will remember this past Sunday for their first NFL catches. But their contributions could offer some massive potential down the road. The final 26 yards of the game-winning touchdown came on completions to Pierce and then the game-winning TD to Woods. Both guys won individual 1-on-1 matchups, with Kansas City committing heavy attention towards Michael Pittman. Were they the craziest plays in the world? No. But these were two rookies not flinching with the game on the line. What does that do for their confidence moving forward? If they can build off this, that would do wonders for a group that has deserved concern.
-Hat Tip To Chase McLaughlin, Matt Haack: Who would have had these two as important Colts pieces to an upset of Kansas City back in early August? Haack forced some interesting decisions for Chiefs rookie returner Skyy Moore and that was hgue for a Colts team needing an injection of life early in the game. And then McLaughiln knocked home field goals from 43 and 51 yards, while Chiefs backup kicker Matt Ammendola missed an extra point (from 33 yards) and 34-yard field goal. You can point to many reasons for the Colts win on Sunday, and the kicking game was definitely one of those.
-Protection Issues: Well, where to begin. The Colts have communication problems in accounting for free rushers. They are having individual breakdowns across their offensive line, sans Quenton Nelson. And they have had issues in handling opposing stunts from defensive lines. Way too much money is invested into the offensive for this to be the norm. Matt Ryan was brought here to be a superior advantage at the line of scrimmage in setting protections and knowing where to attack in those situations. That hasn’t been there. And if it continues, the durable Ryan isn’t going to make it through all 17 games.
-Don’t Rely On Gifts: The Colts needed a win. Period. Bad football teams will get the amount of gifts the Colts got on Sunday and still lose. At the same time, the Colts must realize this week that their own 60-minute effort from Sunday will not be enough to get this season turned around. Level of play must rise if the Colts are going to string wins together. One win, and one where the opponent puked on themselves numerous times, isn’t going to cure the number of poor quarters the Colts have had to start this season, and late last year. It’s important for the Colts to remember that as they critically evaluate things, and enter the most important divisional stretch of the season (3 of their next 4 games will be against the Titans and Jaguars).