The Colts Re-Watch: Week 2 at Broncos
Each week, I will head back to the computer to re-watch the Indianapolis Colts’ previous game – sometimes multiple times – to help pick up on some things I might have missed the first go-around while watching live.
After a high-scoring defeat to the Detroit Lions in Week 1, there was optimism that the Colts might be able to outscore Trevor Siemian and the Denver Broncos offense in Week 2. Although the Colts' offense did outscore the Broncos' offense, Denver's defense was able to come up with two scores of their own, putting the game out of reach for the Colts in a 34-20 outcome.
- Andrew Luck was brilliant in Week 1 against the Lions, but he came back down to earth against the blistering pass rush of the Broncos. He was 21-of-40 passing for just 197 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He was sacked five times and hit 11. Luck did lose Donte Moncrief early in the game to what is finally being evaluated as a shoulder injury, but he did still have TY Hilton, Phillip Dorsett, Dwayne Allen and others. Luck pulled himself together a bit more in the second half (though it's when he had both of his turnovers), leading their only two touchdown drives, but he was not sharp to begin the game. Something that Luck continued to be great at, though, was spreading the ball around. In Week 1, eight different players caught a pass, and in Week 2, another eight caught a pass. Also, though it is more on the offensive line if you can pin it on someone, the Broncos' defensive line did a great job of getting their hands into Luck's passing lanes, batting a few balls down. Some of those passes appear that they would have been productive plays for the Colts if they would have met their target.
- Though yardage-wise he was more productive in Week 1, Frank Gore looked more effective this week. He touched the ball 16 times for 63 yards. He hit holes with authority and pushed the pile on a couple of occasions, plus his toe-tapping touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was a tremendously nimble play for any player, let alone a running back his age.
- I don't know what it is, but all throughout the preseason and now into the season, Josh Ferguson has struggled with keeping his footing, slipping often times as he meets defenders. It seems trivial, but there are opportunities for him to pick up many, many more yards if he can stay upright and keep moving. Perhaps he is going too quickly into his cuts. Whatever it is hopefully it gets resolved so that he can make even bigger plays.
- Rookie center Ryan Kelly has been getting some great push on his opponents. He has shown more polish than most of the players that have suited up at center for the Colts in the last few years. Not only is he locking onto defenders, but he is driving them far off the ball at times.
- Broncos pass rusher Von Miller (3.0 sacks) absolutely owned Colts right tackle Joe Reitz, unsurprisingly. Miller is arguably the best pass rusher in the league, so his dominance is to be expected, but it was a very rough day for Reitz. How Miller lines up (wider off the line than the standard way of lining up off of the tackle's outside shoulder) is also different from many other pass rushers, so perhaps it gives Reitz something to put in his mental tool belt to work on. To a lesser extent, DeMarcus Ware (0.5 sacks) also had his way with left tackle Anthony Castonzo before leaving the game with an elbow injury. The Broncos have a really deep group of talented pass rushers, so this is almost an excused performance by the Colts' protection.
- Defensive lineman Zach Kerr is becoming a really nice player, both against the run and the pass. Sunday, he was credited with 5 tackles, all solo. He also had 1.0 sack, 2 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hits. Not only is he clogging up running lanes, but he is shedding blocks with a nice blend of power and finesse to get into the quarterback's pocket as well. He has stepped up in Henry Anderson's absence and is becoming the player that #ColtsTwitter clamored for him to be over the last couple of years.
- After making a couple of bad mistakes last week, rookie linebacker Antonio Morrison's playing time was cut severely this week. Last week, the Colts rotated Sio Moore, Josh McNary and Morrison next to D'Qwell Jackson, but this week it was just Moore and McNary while Morrison played on special teams.
- Before leaving the game, Clayton Geathers looked good in his first action since last year. He missed all of training camp after fracturing a bone in his foot in the offseason. He was flying around the field against Denver, being a steady presence that actually did not let offensive players get by him (5 tackles) as opposed to some of his teammates. He appeared to re-aggravate his foot injury, however.
- The Colts were in position to win this game, just like they were last week. Darius Butler's interception likely would have been returned for a touchdown and would have tied the game, 10-10. Instead, the Colts got a field goal out of the ensuing drive. At one point, the Colts were driving down the field while down 16-13, but Luck threw a pick-six that put them down 23-13. In the Colts' final comeback bid of the game, down 26-20 and with just under two minutes to go in the game, Luck was sacked by Miller, fumbling as Broncos pass rusher Shane Ray returned it for a touchdown to put the game at 34-20.
- The Colts continue to be unable to generate much pressure off of the edge, most of it coming from the defensive line rather than the linebackers. With Cole out, Curt Maggitt and Akeem Ayers both saw the field more, but nobody was able to come up with much heat. Robert Mathis did, however, have two instances where he just narrowly missed his patented strip-sack of Siemian. Siemian was making just the second start of his young career, but he looked like a seasoned vet, often with lots of time to throw, even with play-action. The Colts also struggled (again) with tackling and allowing running back C.J. Anderson to make plays in the screen game. Overall, Anderson touched the ball 23 times for 93 yards and 1 touchdown.
- When considering just how beaten-up the Colts' defense is, this wasn't a bad defensive performance, seeing as they held the Denver offense to just 19 points. They gave up plenty of yardage (400) and big plays, but it was a "bend, but don't break" performance. They went into the game without Henry Anderson, Trent Cole, Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson and T.J. Green, and then Butler and Geathers did not finish the game, and Antonio Cromartie was in and out. Darryl Morris, Rashaan Melvin, Winston Guy and Matthias Farley all stepped up well.
Jake Arthur is the AFC South Division Manager, Indianapolis Colts Team Manager, Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS on Twitter as well as on Facebook, Google+ and FanCred.
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