5 Things Learned: Colts Show Effort, Fall In Overtime To Chargers
5 Things Learned: Colts Show Effort, Fall In Overtime To Chargers
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INDIANAPOLIS – The most accomplished player on the Indianapolis Colts cost his team what would have been a hell of a season-opening victory in Week One.
Sure, blame can be put on other players and units, but three missed kicks from Adam Vinatieri spoiled a furious second-half comeback from the Colts, as they lost to the Chargers in overtime, 30-24, on Sunday afternoon.
What was learned from the Colts losing a season opener for a 6th straight year?
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
- Costly Special Teams: It was, undoubtedly, one of the worst (if not the worst) games of Adam Vinatieri’s Hall of Fame career. But the special teams blame extended even past Vinatieri on Sunday. Denico Autry had a personal foul penalty on a made field goal, which gave the Chargers a first down. Los Angeles ended up turning that into a touchdown. That cost the Colts 4 points. You also had a partially blocked punt set up the Chargers at the Indy 46-yard line. That drive ended in a field goal. So there’s 7 points off special teams mistakes. And, of course, you had the 3 missed kicks by Vinatieri, adding up to another 7 points. That’s 14 points that you can directly point to special teams. That is no recipe for winning a football game away from home, against a quality opponent. Vinny missed an extra point, a 44-yard field goal and a 29-yarder. He missed the extra point to the right. And missed both field goals to the left. Vinny had a knee injury earlier in August, but he’s been healthy, and booming kicks, for the last three weeks. At the age of 46, and given how Vinny ended last season, when he missed two field goals in Kansas City, you always wonder about Father Time for the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. The Colts won’t make some drastic move with Vinatieri, but you must critically evaluate him, like you would other players, if he continues to struggle.
- Jacoby Impresses: Jacoby Brissett’s film from Sunday was good enough for the Colts to win the game. Brissett was 21-of-27 for 190 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He looked in-rhythm, spread the ball around and was nowhere near a culprit for this loss. It was an impressive outing from Brissett in what has been a chaotic few weeks for the 26-year-old quarterback. Brissett relied on tremendous second-half production from the ground game to help the Colts erase a 15-point deficit. Reich said the Colts wanted to ‘dink and dunk’ a bit early in the game, which is what they did. Simply, Brissett played winning football for you, and that’s encouraging moving forward. Of the 9 offensive drives the Colts had on Sunday, only 1 was a three-and-out (the fumbled snap by Brissett). That's pretty good.
- Defense Doesn’t Do Enough: Coming into 2019, optimism was high for a Colts defense returning all 11 starters, adding Justin Houston and spending 7 of their first 8 draft picks on that side of the ball. The next step was doing it against better quarterbacks. Philip Rivers is that, and he proved it on Sunday against the Colts. While Indy’s defense had moments of strong play, they still allowed 30 points to an offense without its starting left tackle and running back. LA running backs combined for 115 yards on 18 carries, good for 6.3 yards per carry. The Colts did have 4 sacks of Rivers, but some first-half blitzes did not get home, thus resulting in big plays. Tackling was poor as well. Malik Hooker’s one-handed interception should be on any 2019 season highlight tape. But the defense was gashed in overtime on the game-winning TD drive. We are evaluating this defense on a higher standard in 2019, and the unit didn’t live up to that in Week One.
- Run Game Shows Up in 2nd Half: I’m sure there were some candid halftime moments on Sunday about the Colts run game. Marlon Mack had just 8 carries for 21 yards in the first half. But the offensive line and run game found a serious stride in the second half. Mack had 17 carries for 153 yards after halftime, which are huge numbers. The Colts found success running to the left and Mack showed some nifty sideline footwork on his 63-yard touchdown run, the longest rush by a Colts player since 2011. At one point in the second half, Quenton Nelson told Frank Reich, ‘Keep calling them. Keep calling them.’ Reich did that, and the run game delivered throughout the entire second half. On the drive that forced overtime, the Colts ran it 11 times, with the drive lasting nearly 8 minutes. Reich then called a run play on the two-point conversion, which saw Mack put his head down and the offensive line interior create enough of a surge to send the game into OT. More consistency is needed from the run game, but Sunday’s second half is exactly the blueprint Reich believed was possible from this part of the game in 2019.
- Confidence From A Loss? It’s a weird feeling. The Colts never led on Sunday, lost by 6 points (which is what Vegas largely predicted), yet there seems to be a lot of hope coming out of Week One. That comes from the performance by Jacoby Brissett and the resiliency shown on the road, down 15 points to one of the better, albeit banged up, football teams in the AFC and expecting Adam Vinatieri to not look like a washed up kicker. Amidst all the chaos this organization has had to deal with in the last two weeks, this team hung in there, even when the game could have gotten ugly. Effort was certainly no question for the Colts on Sunday. They looked like a team that is capable of being in the playoff mix this season. If your reliable Hall of Fame kicker just has a slightly below average game, you could have easily snuck out of Los Angeles with a very memorable win. And while there’s confidence coming from a loss, you still are now heading on the road to take on the Titans, who had a notable road win over the Browns in their season opener.
-Reich Quotable: On the overtime loss: “That was tough. There were times, in all three phases, that we were not as sharp as we needed to be. And we gave them second chances. That is what was hard. You can’t give a great team second chances, in all three phases. Every time they made us pay.”
-Player Quotable: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett on the range of emotions from Sunday: “You experienced every emotion. It’s a tough way to end it. There’s a lot of things to build on. Just the resiliency of our group to come out and finish that two-minute drive at the end, and convert on the two-point conversion, I thought we did a heck of a job up front today. I know, for sure, that won’t go unnoticed.”
-Offensive Starters: QB-Jacoby Brissett, RB-Marlon Mack, WR-T.Y. Hiilton, WR-Devin Funchess, WR-Zach Pascal, TE-Jack Doyle, LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Quenton Nelson, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Mark Glowinski, RT-Braden Smith.
-Defensive Starters: DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE-Jusin Houston, DT-Margus Hunt, DT-Denico Autry, LB-Anthony Walker, LB-Darius Leonard, CB-Pierre Desir, CB-Rock Ya-Sin, CB-Kenny Moore, S-Malik Hooker, S-Clayton Geathers.
-Injury Report: The Colts had the following players inactive on Sunday: DE-Jabaal Sherard (knee), RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs), OT-Le’Ravn Clark, DT-Tyquan Lewis, CB-Marvell Tell, LB-E.J. Speed and TE-Hale Hentges. Wide receiver Devin Funchess (shoulder) left the game in the 4th quarter after falling on his left shoulder.
-Key Stat: Kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point and two field goals on Sunday, for the first time in his career, which spans 386 games, regular season and postseason.
-What’s Next: The Colts will stay on the road in Week Two, taking on the Tennessee Titans (1-0) next Sunday at 1:00 PM. It marks the first time since 2004 that the Colts have been on the road in each of the first two weeks of the season.
Reich says there is no physical ailment for Adam Vinatieri. “He’s the one guy I’m not worried about. He didn’t have a good day….That’s the least of my worries right now." — Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) September 8, 2019
Reich says there is no physical ailment for Adam Vinatieri.
“He’s the one guy I’m not worried about. He didn’t have a good day….That’s the least of my worries right now."
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) September 8, 2019