The Colts made their regular season debut on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Detroit Lions, and the result was a thrilling shootout, with the Lions edging the Colts 39-35 on a field goal in the closing seconds.
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense played very well, but the defense - plagued by injuries - did not. In order to get a better understanding of the game and who was out there, let's take a look at the snap counts for the Colts and see what we can learn.
- All five offensive linemen played every single snap, which is a very good sign. It was their normal starting five too, thanks to the surprise return of Jack Mewhort, and the unit played very well. They had a few hiccups early and allowed a couple of sacks in the first half, but they were very good in the second half in particular and gave Andrew Luck plenty of time to throw. I think there's a lot to be encouraged by from the Colts' offensive line, particularly against a good defensive line.
- The skill position snaps looks exactly right: Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton saw the most snaps among the group (playing almost every snap on Sunday), while Phillip Dorsett was third. Like we've said all along, this team is best-suited for a three-wide base offense, and on Sunday they accommodated that.
- Dwayne Allen (49 snaps) and Jack Doyle (39 snaps) both played quite a bit, and both enjoyed success. Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Doyle caught three passes for 35 yards and two scores. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a former tight ends coach and has had success throughout his career at utilizing players at the position, and that was certainly true on Sunday. I think both Allen and Doyle are worth keeping an eye on in the Colts' offense this year.
- We saw Josh Ferguson play 12 snaps (tied for the second-most with Robert Turbin), which I'm sure was more than many people expected. Ferguson occupied the change-of-pace role in the hurry up offense, and he did well there - mainly because the Colts utilized his receiving skills, which is what his strength is. He caught two passes for 26 yards on the day in 12 snaps, and I think the Colts utilized his skillset much better than they did in the preseason.
- Mike Adams earned the ironman award for the defense on Sunday, as he was the only player to play every single snap. Considering the injuries at safety, plus the fact that he normally plays most of the snaps, that's no surprise.
- I'll just add this, too: when two of the top four players in terms of defensive snap counts weren't even with the team in training camp, that's usually not a great sign. Antonio Cromartie saw the second-most snaps and played almost all of them, while Darryl Morris - who was just signed last week! - saw 48 snaps. Another corner signed just last week, Rashaan Melvin, saw over half of the defensive snaps. That speaks to just how injured the Colts' secondary is right now.
- A concerning part of Sunday's game that hasn't really been mentioned: D'Qwell Jackson played 51 snaps and recorded just two tackles (and neither of them were solo tackles). I've never been fully on-board the "replace Jackson" train mainly because he's at the very least been a productive player. But if Jackson, a veteran who is limited in what he can do anymore, isn't racking up tackles, what's the point of having him in there? We shouldn't overreact to just one game, but Jackson normally racks up the tackles. The fact that he didn't on Sunday is worth noting and could be a bit concerning, too.
- If there's one player on the defensive side of the football who played very well, it's Sio Moore, who despite being limited this week played 47 snaps. Moore racked up a team-leading 13 tackles and added a tackle for loss, making plays all over the field. It's also entirely possible and likely that he's not quite at 100% yet either, so it will be exciting to see him continue to play, as he had a good day Sunday.
- Though Kendall Langford got the start and played, he only played 22 snaps. That's the surest sign of them all that Langford, who had his knee scoped in training camp, isn't back to full health yet. Give him credit for getting back in time and playing in Sunday's game, but his limited number of snaps seems to suggest that the Colts are working him back in slowly and that he's not 100% yet either.
- Josh McNary led all Colts players in special teams snaps, followed by Matthias Farley, Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison, and Winston Guy.
- You'll see a few players in here that you might not be used to seeing play special teams, such as D'Qwell Jackson, but I'd guess that it's as much due to the injury situations as anything. Or, in the case of Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton, it was due to that final kick return lateral play the Colts tried to pull off in desperation.