The Indianapolis Colts got a much needed victory on Sunday afternoon, as they defeated the Tennessee Titans 34-26. With the win the Colts improved to 3-4 and jumped into second place in the AFC South, notching their first division win of the year.
It still wasn't a perfect game from the Colts (though the offense was good), but there were things to be encouraged about and it's always better looking at the snap counts after a win than after a loss:
- With two of the top three receivers out and the top tight end out, the Colts needed to rely heavily on T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, and Frank Gore - and that's exactly what they did. The three of them were the three leading players on offense when it comes to snap counts for skill players, which is exactly how it should have been. The three of them were easily the Colts' three best skill guys on Sunday, and they touched the ball a combined 33 times (everyone else touched the ball a combined 18 times). Hilton, Doyle, and Gore all produced on Sunday and were used quite a bit, and that's exactly how it should be.
- In addition, however, Chester Rogers, Devin Street, and Erik Swoope all played quite a bit of snaps, and guys like Robert Turbin, Chase Coffman, Tevaun Smith, and Josh Ferguson also saw some reps too. The Colts are lacking some of their top playmakers, but they played a number of different guys on Sunday trying to compensate for it. In particular, Rogers (two catches for 30 yards) and Swoope (two catches for 51 yards) have been promising this year.
- The starting offensive line of Anthony Castonzo (LT), Joe Haeg (LG), Ryan Kelly (C), Denzelle Good (RG), and Joe Reitz (RT) played well on Sunday, which presents an interesting question when Jack Mewhort returns (likely this week): with Mewhort obviously sliding back in at left guard, should the Colts keep Haeg at guard (right guard), move him back to tackle (right tackle), or move him out of the lineup all together? I'm not sure there's a correct answer to that, but I do think they need to keep Haeg in the lineup. It will be interesting to see what they do moving forward.
- Credit where credit is due: Patrick Robinson had a very good day on Sunday. He hadn't really done much so far in his tenure with the Colts, but on Sunday he did a good job. Coupled with Vontae Davis and Darius Butler, the cornerbacks had another very good game - which has become a trend this year, for the most part. Interestingly, Rashaan Melvin didn't play at all after starting last week and doing a good job, but that's likely due to the way the Colts were playing the Titans (a strong running team) more than anything.
- Something I've been talking about for weeks finally happened: the Colts significantly ramped up Akeem Ayers's snap counts. Ayers played 37 snaps (51%) on Sunday, which was more than Robert Mathis (33 snaps; 45%) - which as hard as it is to say, is exactly how it needs to be. Ayers managed to get a sack, a quarterback hit, and a tackle for loss on Sunday, and he's actually second on the team in sacks this year with two despite playing few reps. The team's top pass rusher, Erik Walden, also got to the quarterback on Sunday for another sack and another quarterback hit, extending his team lead in both categories (he has five sacks and eight quarterback hits). And then T.Y. McGill (another player who hasn't been playing much) also had a great day, notching a sack and three quarterback hits. Those three guys are doing a very good job rushing the passer, so the Colts (a team desperate for pass rush) would be stupid not to play them more often (which means they probably won't play much next week).
- Lavar Edwards, who was just signed a few days ago, played 16 snaps on Sunday, which was an impressive feat considering the fact that he's new to the team.
- Josh McNary really struggled on Sunday, and the Colts used Edwin Jackson on some reps (but only 13 total). Jackson made those snaps count, though, as he recorded three tackles on 13 snaps (as opposed to McNary, who recorded one tackle on 35 snaps). We know that the Colts' inside linebacker position is terrible and they don't have a ton of options, but I think they need to give Jackson more reps to see what he can do. It's also stunning to see how much Antonio Morrison's snaps have been dropping, but perhaps it's because of his struggles. McNary is struggling too, though, so is Edwin Jackson next up? The Colts are running out of options.
(Note: Only those playing more than 50% of the special teams snaps appear here, so this is not the entire list):