The Indianapolis Colts exhibited plenty of glaring deficiencies on Sunday. From the inexplicable non-challenge by Pagano of the Mack touchdown in the first quarter that set the tone for much to come. To the quarterback play in general, and all the struggles that bring with it (0-10 on 3rd down). The issues the Colts have are well documented, they are numerous and are easy to recount, but the Sun came up on Monday.
The Colts are 0-1. These Indianapolis Colts have lost their season opener 4 out of the last 5 years. There was a lot of bad, that is obvious. Were there any positive takeaways to be gleaned following this lopsided loss that was week 1? There are a couple.
in 2016, the Colts surrendered 4.7 yards per rushing attempt and an average of 120 yards per game. The new look Colts defense stood strong in the run game last Sunday. The Rams came out running 3 times in their first 7 plays. Looking at the first quarter, when the game was still close, the Rams ran the ball a total of 6 times while running a total of 14 plays. The longest run of that stretch was a Tayvon Austin run around the right end for 9 yards, bottled up by Jon Bostic. The Rams had to test the edge in the run game because the middle of the defense was proving to be stout. The other 5 runs in the first quarter went to Todd Gurley inside the tackles and amounted to a whopping 6 yards from scrimmage. There was a 14 yard run of Gurley’s called back due to a Ram holding penalty, but when everyone played within the rules, the Colts held strong most of the time. Al Woods’ presence in the middle was noticeable throughout. He is quick off the ball, and showed an ability to move the line of scrimmage back toward that QB/RB mesh point in a hurry. At one point, Woods’ knee was rolled up on from the side. Woods was helped off the field, but returned very quickly and continued to dominated the A gaps for this 3-4 Colts defense. Henry Anderson and Johnathan Hankins played strong as well, and it was refreshing to see Anderson look confident in his surgically repaired knee. Gurley’s longest run of the game was 12 yards. Gurley achieved a total of 40 yards on 19 carries. As a team, the Rams finished with just 63 yards on 33 carries (1.9ypc). Yes, there were 3 kneels at the end for the Rams for -7 yards. Taking this into account, the Colts still held the Rams to 2.3 yards per carry. In this small sample size, this is marked improvement over the 2016 Colts run defense performance. Technically, the #1 run defense in all the land for the 2017 season resides in Indianapolis after 1 week. This is significant because, when Andrew Luck returns, whenever that may be, if the Colts can just be a middle of the road defense – the dividends will be huge.
Marlon Mack rushed 10 times for 24 yards. He also caught a ball and gained 21 yards on the play, scoring a total of 2 touchd-wait. One touchdown. Mack scored one touchdown on his 11 touches.
Mack needs the ball in his hands. The prospect of Mack coupled with Andrew Luck is very exciting as Colts fans look to the future. His acceleration is obvious. Frank Gore had a good day too. Maybe the O-Line was all jacked up to run block (because we sure saw they weren’t ready to pass protect), but Mack just looks to run with decisiveness and elusiveness that is undeniable. Mack did fumble in the game, and it lead to a safety. Fumbles cannot be overlooked and can’t continue in order for Mack’s playmaking ability to be on the field for the Colts consistently moving forward. Mack will be a bright spot moving forward his season, a season in which bright spots maybe hard to come by.
The list of issues that this team put on display last Sunday against San Fra- er..the Rams is extensive. Denzelle Good was the best offensive lineman, which should tell you something if you are familiar with earlier lineups. As 2017 continues to impress, Good has now been placed on IR with an undisclosed injury. Jared Goff got his first win while throwing for over 300 yards. Tolzien nearly treated the Colts faithful to four pick sixes (only got to two.) Andrew Luck is leading in early MVP polling as he holds the clipboard and plays coach on the Indy sidelines. As much as some folks would love to see Chuck rally this team and coach at a higher level, it seems as though we have seen all there is to see on that front.
There will be brighter days. Remember, Chris Ballard is one regular season game into his season of evaluating this organization “from top to bottom.”