The Indianapolis Colts fell to 0-1 on the 2015 with a week one loss on the road to the Buffalo Bills, 27-14. There were some positives, plenty of negatives, and quite a bit of ugly from the game to be sure, so let's take a look at some things in each category from the Colts in week one:
The Colts' Pro Bowl cornerback received a new challenge on Sunday, as the Colts moved away from their strategy of keeping Vontae Davis on one side of the field and instead moved him around to shadow Sammy Watkins. The result was that Watkins didn't catch a pass and was only targeted three times. That's exactly what you want your elite cornerback to do, and especially with Greg Toler out, Davis stepped up and shut down his man.
It was the Colts' debut for both Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson, and both of them impressed. The defensive line was a big concern entering the game, and while one game doesn't prove anything, it was a nice start to the season for the line. Langford and Anderson in particular did some very good things in the run game and were disruptive, and that's huge to see as they helped the run defense have a solid day.
How often does Andrew Luck appear in this section? Not often. But he was off on Sunday, and it showed. He completed just 53% of his passes, averaged just 5 yards per attempt, and posted a 63.6 while turning the ball over twice. It was a very rough game for the Colts' quarterback.
T.Y. Hilton had a good game for the Colts, but other than that the wide receivers didn't help their quarterback out much at all. Outside of Hilton, the Colts' receivers combined to catch just 12 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. They didn't show much fight for the football and didn't create much separation from defenders. Give credit to the Bills' defensive backs for sure, but the Colts' receivers didn't help themselves out much at all.
Butler is a good slot cornerback, but he's best when kept in that role - and we saw that again on Sunday. He was beat on a couple of plays, including the long 51-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Percy Harvin. Butler doesn't have the speed nor the talent to match up like that on the outside, though he was forced into that role because of Greg Toler's injury. It wasn't a particularly great result.
T.Y. Hilton's injury
One of the biggest negatives - actually, maybe the biggest negative - of the day was the injury to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. He was tackled on a routine pass route in the third quarter but, as he was going down, his knee slammed into the ground and "it didn't feel right," he said. Owner Jim Irsay said that the X-ray was negative and that it's just a bad sprain, but it is likely to keep the Colts' star wideout out for a few weeks.
The Colts significantly lost the field position battle on Sunday. Their average starting field position was just the 18.6 yard line, while the Bills started around the 35.4 yard line. The Colts started three of their first four drives inside their own 10 yard line - two due to punts being pinned deep and the other due to an awful kick return attempt by Donte Moncrief in which he slipped at the four yard line. The offense wasn't great, but it sure doesn't help when they're consistently backed up deep in their own territory.
On the Colts' first drive, they were moving the ball down the field quite nicely until Khaled Holmes was called for holding and Lance Louis committed a false start on back-to-back plays. That resulted in a 1st and 25 against a Rex Ryan defense, and those penalties in essence killed the drive. Those weren't the only times that the Colts were penalized, however, and they would add a few more holding penalties to that number as they struggled to defend the blitz. There were others too, such as a roughing the passer, that led to too many untimely penalties by the Colts. It wasn't so much the number of penalties as the timing of them, and they disrupted whatever rhythm the team was trying to establish.