Indianapolis Colts: Grading Out Week 5
So as this week approached, it seemed like a pitfall of sorts for the Indianapolis Colts as they headed into their Week 5 matchup with the Chicago Bears. Everything was setting up for the disappointment that seems to follow this team like the single rain cloud that follows the schlep rock that we all know in our own personal lives.
Well, the heart that the Colts seemed to forget to take on their trip to London last week luckily was waiting for them when they returned as they fought off every opportunity to wilt and came out on top of the Bears 29-23, improving their record to 2-3. In this installment, we are going to delve into the three phases of the game. Let's get started.
We will get to the elephant in the room in just a bit but first, let's start with the positives. This team played well in the first half. They took the ball up and down the field. I could dissect each drive but I am not going to this week. What I did see in those drives that led them to a 16-13 halftime lead was a quarterback that had time to throw, moving around in the pocket when he had to and playing like the Andrew Luck we all know and love. If any of you out there nerd out like I do then you probably read the asinine comments from that tool box that masquerades as an NFL GM, Ryan Grigson where he blamed Luck's contract for the fact that the Colts don't have a defense or an offensive line. I beg to differ.
The offensive line is young and showed flashes on Sunday. Yes, I know they gave up a total of five sacks. Yes, I know they lead the league in sacks allowed. They seemed to play like a veteran group in the first half, allowing a total of one sack. That's right, one sack. They were giving Luck time to throw the ball. They are a young unit and most times, that is reflected, but I will give credit where credit is due. In the second half, they turned into the turnstile that we all know and despise, allowing an additional four sacks. Progress is sometimes slow but there are flashes.
Luck had a very good day leading this team and proving that Grigson is a tool because even in the second half when Luck was running for his life, he was still making plays. On the day he was 28-for-39, a 72% clip for those of you scoring at home, for 322 yards. He also threw 2 touchdowns; one to Dwayne Allen, who finally got over his case of the drops, and the other was a game-winning score to T.Y. Hilton, who has been the star we all knew we had this year. And, he has a touchdown in his last three games. Luck audibled when he needed to and had a command of the offense that showed he was truly worth his massive contract that he was awarded before the season started.
Now it is time to address the elephant in the room. Where is Frank Gore? He had a pedestrian 75 yards, but when he did get the ball, he gouged the Bears defense. The problem is that he only got the ball 14 times. I am not the smartest man on the face of the planet and I could be wrong but if the running game is working at 5.4 yards per carry, why in the name of all that is holy would you go away from it?! As frustrated as Gore is, he has kept quiet but I would expect that to explode soon, and rightfully so.
I am going to start this section by asking a single, very simple question. That question is: "How in the name of Andrew Luck's neckbeard do you let someone throw for almost 400 yards that the Cleveland freaking Browns didn't want to play quarterback for them?"
If someone could please answer that question for me, that'd be super. For crying out loud, Brian Hoyer was treating the Colts defense like Odell Beckham Jr. treated that kicking net a couple weeks ago. The only difference is that the Colts defense didn't really hit back. Instead, they made him look like the second coming of Dan Fouts.
Let's step back from that for a minute. It wasn't all bad. Inside the red zone, they played pretty well, tightening up when they had to, allowing only one touchdown and one field goal. In between the 20's, however, they couldn't seem to stop the run, the pass or force a turnover. Every time the young running back Jordan Howard touched the ball, it felt like the Colts linebackers should've had a tray with cologne and mints on it, them saying "Thanks for coming, have a nice day." "Swiss cheese" is the term often used because it is soft and has a lot of holes in it. They allowed over 500 yards to the Bears, and on most days, that is not going to get you a win.
Now, that being said, they did make some very good plays when they had to. I know I keep referencing Grigson's comments, but there are teams who have a quarterback that is paid a lot of money and they are able to field a defense that is very good and in some cases, great. This team needs to find a balance. They need to find a way to put a defense on the field that can support the offense and keep people out of the end zone. Vontae Davis can't be asked to do everything in the secondary. Though I will say this, Clayton Geathers is going to be a very good safety in this league. D'Qwell Jackson cannont be asked to do everything from the linebacker spot. The defensive line has pieces that need to mature and start dominating games but most of all, need to start forming some semblance of a pass rush, or this team is going nowhere fast.
The Special Teams:
Again. Week after week, this unit does exactly what it is supposed to do and then some. Pat McAfee had a career-long 74-yard punt and averaged 63.3 yards per punt. Yeah, let me run that by you again. He averaged 63.3 yards per punt. After that performance, someone needs to check the channel in Broad Ripple to make sure he isn't swimming around in there again. Adam Vinatieri, the greying wonder, hit on all five of his field goal attempts including two from 50+ and two from the high 40's. He also hit on both of his extra point attempts. I am truly amazed that he is still doing what he is doing at his age, which by NFL standards is beyond senior citizen status.
Quan Bray is really coming into his own as a return man. I have a feeling this young man is going to break one and take it to the house before too long. He only got to return one punt but he made the most of his opportunity and returned it for 20 yards. He also returned a kickoff for 39 yards.
I know that not every team can be great in all phases of the game, but this organization had better figure out how to be at least decent in every facet because a lot of NFL franchises are figuring out how to get better and better every year and are ready to surpass them. I know this week was a win, but the Colts had better figure out how to at least shore up the defense in a hurry or embarrassing losses are yet to come.
Gino covers the Colts for Pro Football Spot. You can follow "Colts on PFS" on Twitter @spot_colts!
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