The Colts Re-Watch: Week 5 vs. Chicago Bears
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.
On Sunday, the Colts put together a 29-23, come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears, but they had no business being behind at any point to begin with. It took another Herculean effort by Andrew Luck and TY Hilton to pull this team to victory. Let's take a look. at the tape.
- Luck was mostly outstanding, completing 72% of his passes, throwing for over 300 yards with 2 touchdowns and no turnovers. When he wasn't getting sandwiched by pass rushers, he was whipping the ball down the field and showing great touch and accuracy, plus he added another fourth-quarter comeback victory to his resume'. Luck and Hilton put on another clinic for QB-WR duos, as the two connected 10 times for 171 yards and a touchdown. With Donte Moncrief still out with a shoulder injury, Hilton has been a tremendously valuable asset to the Colts.
- Rookie Joe Haeg started at right tackle over veteran Joe Reitz, and he had himself a rough time. Reitz has given up his fair share of pressure this year, and against Chicago on Sunday, Haeg was beaten for 3.5 sacks by Bears edge defender Willie Young. Also, It's too early to write off starting right guard Denzelle Good, who gave up 1.5 sacks of his own, but he's certainly had his struggles since moving to guard from tackle this year. I have confidence that these two specifically will develop into better products, but this was definitely a day of growing pains. They just have to make sure that Luck's health doesn't come at the expense of growing pains. The big problem: Of the six players that would be options to start at right guard and/or tackle, four of them are rookies or second-year players.
- The Colts finally mixed in some hurry-up offense right off the bat instead of waiting until they were down by multiple scores in the second half to do it. It worked pretty well, as the offense progressed and they scored on all four of their drives in the first half. They scored on seven of their 10 drives overall, excluding their final drive of the game, which was kneel-downs. The hurry-up seemed to be when Luck and Hilton had their most effective connections as well.
- The Colts' passing defense continues to be substandard. I understand that Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer has been on a roll, but he carved the Colts up the the tune of nearly 400 yards passing. Plus, no-name receiver Cameron Meredith was allowed to have his way to a career day (9 catches, 130 yards, 1 touchdown). There was still no pass rush coming from the Colts against a team whose pass protection isn't all that great. Without Robert Mathis getting sacks, this pass rush is anemic at best. The Colts are tied for 30th in the league in sacks with 7.0.
- Bears rookie tailback Jordan Howard was excellent, but I honestly expected that. The Colts defense was bad, but he is really good, and he showed it to the tune of 19 touches for 163 yards (8.6 avg) and 1 touchdown. The Bears utilized a shallow sweep to Howard several times, and because of his patience and vision, they were very successful with it. It might be something to keep an eye on from other teams.
- It looks like head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino are going to ride out the growing pains with inside linebacker Antonio Morrison. Josh McNary got a bit dinged-up in the game, so it likely led to a broadened role for Morrison, but he had yet another blown coverage this week, which allowed Howard's touchdown catch. Morrison is pretty good against the run but is absolutely brutal in coverage much of the time. If you read this series regularly, you already knew that.
- Regardless of how the Colts' pass defense is as a whole, nickel Darius Butler is a playmaker. Their defense doesn't force a lot of turnovers, but Butler does his part. Along with having the team's only interception of the year back in Week 2, he forced a fumble early in the game Sunday, though it was recovered by Chicago. He also had 6 tackles. He unfortunately got injured and will now undergo surgery on a finger. He is not expected to miss much time.
- Colts starting corner Patrick Robinson didn't have a great game, to say the least. He gambled and went for the ball on a play that Meredith caught and took 30 yards downfield. Robinson also took a poor angle on Howard's 57-yard run. On top of it all, he got hurt as well. Meredith was allowed to have the day that he had, and then the Colts wound up having to have Vontae Davis shadow Alshon Jeffrey later in the game.
- Other than when the Colts try these absurd gimmicks, the special teams has been absolutely outstanding. Week 5's example of the ridiculous was the fake onside kick to start the game. Did it help? Nope. Was it weird? You bet. The Bears returned the kickoff to the 32-yard line. Stop. Getting. Cute. Just play football. Outside of that, placekicker Adam Vinatieri was spectacular (7-for-7 on field goals and extra points, 17 points total) and kept the Colts leading, Pat McAfee was just as good from a punting perspective (3 punts, 63.3 avg, 2 inside the 20), and Quan Bray returned the ball well (26.0 avg on kickoffs, 20.0 avg on punt returns). If it weren't for the stability of the special teams, who knows if the Colts would even have as good of a record as 2-3?
- This Colts team can be so undisciplined when it comes to penalties. How do you false start four times at home? Another example was with 2:39 left in the game, and it was 3rd-and-4. The Colts tried to draw the Bears offside to get the first down, but after the Bears held steady, Luck didn't snap the ball in time and they got a five-yard delay of game penalty. The next play on 3rd-and-9, they took a 28-yard shot at the end zone, which failed. While the drive didn't progress like it could have, they did put on the game-sealing field goal by Vinatieri to make it 29-23. Still, it was an example of the team underachieving because of what they do to themselves.
This Sunday, the Colts travel down to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. The game is at 8:30pm EST on NBC.
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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