It is so much easier to write up the winners and losers in a week where the Colts win the game. How do you consider someone a winner when they are a part of a team that just got boat-raced by the Seahawks in a game where they actually held the lead at one point? I’ll do what I can though.
Winner – Rookie Defensive Backs
Another week, another interception for Malik Hooker. Hooker made an excellent heads-up play to snatch a tipped ball and go on the run with it. Perhaps the most impressive part of the play was the devastating stiff arm he used to shut down a would-be tackler. This guy already is the real deal and is a major bright spot to watch going forward.
Speaking of young impact players, it has somehow gone under the radar just how valuable a pick Nate Hairston has been for this team. Not many teams get immediate and consistent production from their fifth-round picks, but Hairston has provided exactly that. Playing in the nickel corner spot, which was one I personally was very unsure about going into the season, Hairston has done admirably. What’s more, he proved he can be used in blitzes effectively as he was able to bring Russell Wilson down in the end zone for a safety.
These young players are going to continue to have growing pains, but seeing production from rookie defensive backs is rare, and it gives Colts fans a lot to look forward to with this team.
Loser – Jeremy Vujnovich
I get the feeling watching this guy that when he went to dances in high school he was the one constantly stepping on his date’s feet. Mainly because that is what he has become best known for. The guy keeps causing problems with his feet and this time that problem cost the Colts their backup center. Deyshawn Bond, who was doing a solid job holding down the center spot in Ryan Kelly’s absence, tore his quad after stepping on Vujnovich’s foot. Don’t get me wrong, this is a bad situation that wasn’t solely caused by him, but he seems to keep finding himself stepping on or being stepped on by his teammates, to their detriment. In any case, the real loser here is the Colts offensive line, which loses yet another player.
Winner – Matthias Farley
The Colts safeties had a good first half, with Farley showing incredible concentration to both tip a pass away from Jimmy Graham and catch it while keeping his feet in bounds. I could watch this play over and over because Farley just makes it look so easy. Jimmy Graham is not what he once was, but it is nice to see a Colts safety take the ball away from someone who has a clear physical advantage over him and make it look like just another day at the office.
Loser – Receivers
After a huge game against the Browns, T.Y. Hilton disappeared yet again in the face of superior competition. Frank Gore led the team in receiving yards with 34, and the passing game was largely stagnant. Some of this was due to pressure on Jacoby Brissett, some due to him holding the ball too long and not seeing the whole field, and some due to bad play calling that did not open receivers up or took too long to develop. Mostly, though, it was an example of a receiving group that just cannot beat top competition in their one-on-one matchups. Moncrief had a great touchdown catch that accounted for 18 of his 30 yards. While his catch was impressive, I found his celebration especially amusing because I assume he was miming getting money from an ATM. Clever I guess given that he is in a contract year, but based on his play so far this season and the fact that he has been a relative non-factor, he may find that the ATM has insufficient funds come next season.
Winner – The 2018 Colts Defense
That may be a bit of a strange way to look at things, but I think if you watched this game you had a lot to like about what this team will have to offer given another year. The defense already has started to come together to put up some solid play. Without some killer turnovers by the offense, the defense was holding its own against a playoff contender. You had 3 players 25 years old or younger in Hooker, Hairston, and Farley making major impact plays on defense, players like John Simon continuing to make plays, and the defensive line looking as good as it has in all the time I’ve been watching Colts football. If you factor in a healthy Quincy Wilson, the possible return of Clayton Geathers, as well as another year of draft picks for Chris Ballard, this defense alone has the potential to be very good for a long time to come.
Loser – Jack Doyle
It is a testament to how good Doyle has been that he could be considered a loser in this game. However, two weeks in a row now Doyle has had a befuddling drop. We are so used to Doyle being the guy who makes every catch and just gets it done when no one else is making plays that it is strange to see him struggle. Doyle had 5 receptions for 27 yards against the Seahawks and was a guy they really needed to have a good game if the offense was going to have any success moving the ball. When he struggled, so did the Colts’ offense. It has become common for the receivers to struggle, but Doyle has to be that security blanket for Jacoby Brissett and he could not do that effectively against the Seahawks.
Loser – Whoever Gives the Half-Time Pep Talk
The Colts have scored 18 total second-half points this season. That number is not totally fair either because it includes a 4th quarter touchdown against the Rams in garbage time that is skewing the numbers high. In each of their last 3 games, the Colts have scored just 3 points in the second half. There is plenty of blame to go around, too. The coaches have made bad adjustments, the offense has made bad mistakes, there have been injuries, and the defense has given up lots of points. All of these things have contributed to the Colts struggles in the second half, but this is not something a team can do and sustain any kind of winning program. Good teams, teams like the Seahawks, play 4 quarters. Quitting halfway through a game results in a beat down against any NFL team worth anything. Until the Colts fix this problem they are going nowhere.