The Indianapolis Colts entered 2017 with a Jekyll and Hyde personality under head coach Chuck Pagano. In years past, however, the team would always come out super slow and have to furiously fight their way back into games. It is part of what allowed Andrew Luck to earn an early reputation for comeback wins.
This season it is still a tale of two halves in almost every game but Indianapolis has been starting games strong only to see opponents fight their way back in the second half. As Chris Blystone reported yesterday, this Indianapolis team has a total of 9 points in the second half in three straight games — one field goal in each.
This makes breaking down the game entirely frustrating. You have film that is peppered with good to great plays, bad plays, and some that are really ugly. It is with that in mind that we breakdown the Colts Sunday night match-up in Seattle in two pieces, finishing with the offense.
This has become Jacoby Brissett’s signature throw already with the Colts. He really likes back shoulder throws down the sidelines where he can allow his receiver to go up and make a play on the football. He is not afraid of attacking one-on-one coverage, especially to Donte Moncrief.
This is a well placed ball, thrown with good velocity, and in a spot high enough to make it difficult for the chasing cornerback to get his head around and make a play.
Early in the game, the Colts showed some things that they don’t do enough. They showed some creativity in using lesser known weapons to attack the weakness of the Seahawks Cover-3 defense up the seams. Why they completely went away from this is hard to understand.
It is even more difficult when you see the next plays.
The Colts have a young, inexperienced quarterback with only a month under his belt on a new team. The Seahawks have one of the strongest defensive units in the league, particularly along the defensive line. As a result, the line attacks up the field quickly to get pressure and try to force mistakes and the corners are often left on an island to cover receivers down the field — even if there is help over the top.
This makes the defense susceptible to change of pace plays like running back screens. The only things is, the Colts almost never run these plays. When you get a 19-yard gain on a play like this, the defense has to back off a bit and you have a chance to make life a little easier on your offensive line. You also buy your receivers time to get deeper in their routes.
It didn’t just work once, they came back to the screen again for another first down. These plays are far more effective than having your running backs run their heads into a brick wall on a shotgun draw through the A-gap.
While this play didn’t go for a touchdown, Brissett again shows that he can use his feet to pick up extra yards. He shouldn’t be afraid to do this a bit more often as another way to get the defense back on its heels.
It was hard to pick out the “bad” plays — as distinguished from ugly plays. This is a sack that Brissett took while he stood in the pocket for an eternity. He has a bad habit of looking like a statue in the pocket and later in the game it cost him another turnover. He needs to have a better “feel” for the pocket, move his feet (Aaron Rogers is great at this) and make life a little easier for his offensive line.
Look, it’s great to stand tall and strong in the pocket. It’s great to face pressure and make difficult throws while taking a hit. It’s even greater to avoid the pressure and get clean throws off when you have chances to do so.
We found out that Jack Doyle may have suffered a concussion against the Seahawks and that he is starting this week in the concussion protocol. I don’t know if that is part of the reason why he had another easy drop in this game but the ball gets right into his chest and bounces off of him.
Hopefully he gets this cleaned up because we’ve become used to him being one of the most reliable outlets on the field.
This play is almost identical to the two pick sixes Scott Tolzien threw against the Rams in Week 1. This is an out route where the receiver is unable to gain any separation and the ball is thrown that way anyway. The most dangerous pass you can make is this one. It is way too easy to jump these routes and the trailing player has the better angle for the ball.
I would like to see the Colts either stop running this play altogether or abuse defenses by running an out-and-up route. Lead the receiver down the field and he has the advantage.
This is another look at it and is a pretty good idea of what Jacoby Brissett sees on the play. You don’t release this ball. Ever. Bad decision.
Remember when we talked about how Brissett stands like a statue in the pocket? He has the ball for about 3.5 seconds and does nothing to move up into an open pocket in front of him. He doesn’t feel the pressure and is a sitting duck.
Now, Haeg certainly could have done a better job of maintaining his block and doesn’t display the lateral agility one really wants to see in an NFL tackle but this isn’t all on him. Brissett will have things like this happen no matter where he plays if he doesn’t develop a better feel in the pocket.
You can see how Haeg loses the battle to keep the edge clean but you also see a clean gap that Brissett could step up into to deliver the ball. Instead, he gets locked into his stance and runs out of time.
It is unsurprising that the Colts would struggle offensively against the Seahawks. This isn’t the same defense as they had a few years ago, but it is still a very good group. An offensive line running with a third string center and who has already had to shuffle to replace a starting right tackle will have a hard time against this defensive line.
However, the play calling is uninspired. Too often Indianapolis calls absurd runs up the middle that everyone in the country can see coming. There is very little down and distance variation. There is very little creativity. Even when something works and a chink in a defense’s armor is exposed, it is very rarely attacked again.
This group is still a work in progress and needs to find some consistency. Getting Ryan Kelly and Andrew Luck will certainly help. Until then, Brissett will try to make just enough plays on offense to win another football game or two. If he does, the Colts may not be an awful spot when Luck finally does return.