Indianapolis Colts: Grading Out Week 2
Well, here we sit at the end of Week 2 on the maddening ride called "The NFL regular season." It is time to break down the Week 2 matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. Just like last week, we will look at the offense, defense and special teams. Let's get started.
Well, what can you say? I think the picture above kind of says it all, right? However, the Colts came into Denver ready to right the ship from Week 1 and attempt to do so against the No. 1 ranked defense in the league. I will say this: Considering the fact that the Broncos were a much more formidable opponent than the Detroit Lions, all eyes were on Frank Gore.
Ha! I gotcha, didn't I? Everyone thought I was going to say Andrew Luck or the offensive line. I believed going into that game that Gore was going to be the difference maker. Trying to wear down the Broncos' vaunted defense by constantly pounding the ball into the line or make the defensive linemen and linebackers chase on sweeps sounds like a good theory, right? Given the opponent, I was pleasantly surprised with the offensive line play. I mean, granted, Von Miller did get 3.0 sacks, but even the best of offensive lines have struggled facing this unit. Just ask Cam Newton and his offensive line how they fared against them this past February.
The Colts line allowed a total of 5 sacks on the day, and they allowed a little bit of daylight to Gore early on. Daylight that turned to storms as the game moved on. But, I digress... It seemed like the Colts were playing a very safe game. A safe game that was allowing them to move the ball up and down the field.
Luck completed 21-of-40 for 197 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Granted, it was much better in the first half than it was in the second half, but I will get to that. Luck was given time to survey the field and was able to check down as the Colts were keeping it very close and matching the Broncos score for score. Gore was keeping some of the pressure off of Luck with his running and actually chipping away at the Broncos' front 7 and more importantly, the clock.
It was a gameplan that was being executed to, not perfection, but more of a turtle vs. the hare scenario. Everything seemed to be going pretty well for the Colts as they they had closed the gap to 16-13. It seems as though that is when the tide turned and the Broncos started to bring variation blitzes and stunts at the revamped offensive line which, in turn, made Luck hurry his throws. A few, he got away with, but on a dreadful 3rd-and-15, he tested Aqib Talib, and Talib made him pay by picking off the pass and taking it 46 yards to the house, building a 10-point lead. Not to worry, though, because Luck came right back into the game and drove the offense down the field to bring them back within three points.
After that, the defensive line and the linebackers took over and you saw Gore disappear, and not even the power of the neck beard could save the Colts offense as they were just overpowered and dominated from that point on. It culminated with Miller screaming off of the left side and forcing Luck to fumble, being returned for a touchdown.
Nobody on the defense was happy with the way they played against Detroit in Week 1. The leader of the defense, D'Qwell Jackson, even stated, and I quote, "Man, we played like s***. We can't play like that again or we will all lose our jobs. We have to play better. We will play better." Sounds like a man on a mission. Well, he seemed to rally the troops as the patchwork defense, riddled with injuries, came together and played extremely well. Unfortunately, on an interception return that surely would've ended up in the end zone for a pick-six, Darius Butler seemed to pull a hamstring and went down in a heap with nobody around him. That only compounded a long list of hobbled and injured defenders for the Colts.
Granted, this time there was no Peyton Manning and the defense did allow 400 yards of total offense to Trevor Siemian and company, but there was a team effort, and they made a lot of plays that they didn't make in Week 1. They actually forced a turnover and, without the two defensive scores from the Broncos, had the game tied in the fourth quarter against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
I do believe the biggest victory for this unit was the fact that they held the Broncos to only 134 yards on the ground. They faced a GREAT running team and held them below 150 and didn't allow a 100-yard rusher. I know people think there are no such things as moral victories but when your team is 0-2 to start yet another season, you grab onto whatever you can. I will take that kind of defensive effort all day long and hopefully twice next Sunday.
The Special Teams:
This was an area that is huge on a week like this in the thin-aired altitude of Denver. As you look over the unit's performance, Adam Vinatieri was as reliable as always, hitting on both of his field goal attempts and both of his extra point attempts. Nothing new there since he hasn't missed a field goal in his last (almost) 30 attempts.
Pat McAfee was his usual self and actually better in some aspects as the high altitude helped his punts sail. Luckily for Denver returners, "The Boomstick" didn't run anyone down and dismantle them again like he has the last few times he's played against them.
Also, there were no "innovative" plays put in by the Colts. Probably because there was threats of a stoning if they tried to get cute again with the return game.
Overall, the start to the season hasn't been what anyone, from the front office to the fans, have wanted but at least everyone is playing hard now, and as soon as they start to get players back, hopefully the tide will turn and they will put it all together. A little tweaking here and there and the sky is the limit.
Gino covers the Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow "Colts on PFS" on Twitter @spot_colts!
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