Week two was much less humiliating but just as unsatisfying for the Indianapolis Colts. They lost to the Cardinals in overtime by a field goal after Brissett threw a pick that gave the Cardinals offense the ball on the Colts’ 21-yard line. Let’s go through the winners and losers from week two, because unlike last week, there really were winners worth talking about.
Winner – John Simon.
Get used to hearing his name, because John Simon just keeps making plays. He was one of 4 Colts players to get a sack and had 4 tackles to go with it. He is the consistent player on the defensive side of the ball that the Colts have really needed for a very long time. From setting the edge to pushing the pocket and getting pressure on the quarterback, Simon did it all today and improved the players around him because of it.
There is always hope that a player can come in and be a breakout superstar as a free agent. That rarely happens except for at the steepest of prices. Chris Ballard did not bring any guys in that are likely to do that. However, adding a guy like Simon means you have a consistent and disruptive force who can certainly hold his own on the edge. While this won’t lessen the need for drafting a pass rusher next year, it is very encouraging to see a relatively low-cost pickup paying off early.
Loser – Donte Moncrief
Moncrief is in a contract year, but you wouldn’t know it. He has been a relative nonfactor so far this season. He had two receptions for 18 yards. One of those was a 15-yard catch. With multiple drops and not a lot of fight for the ball, he hasn’t looked like the guy the Colts desperately need to step up and grab that number two receiver role.
I understand that he is working with backup quarterbacks, but top wide receivers have to make plays, and if the ball hits your hands that should be a catch. Those drops are on him and he can’t make those kinds of errors if he wants to get a big-time deal next year. The Colts need him to show he can live up to his potential. The time has passed where we can keep hoping for him to turn the corner-it’s time for him to show up and play.
Winner – Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle could probably just be a winner every week. The guy catches everything and is a great security blanket no matter how good or bad the quarterback is. While he could definitely better in blocking, and you’d like to see him break some tackles for more yards, he was an effective weapon in the short passing game and as a third down option. He was good for 8 catches for 79 yards. When compared with Kerwynn Williams’ 22 yards, it seems like the Colts made the right choice releasing Williams in favor or Doyle.
Loser – Chuck Pagano
For the third straight year, Pagano’s team has opened with two losses and he has to be feeling the heat. Losing the home opener due to a collapse has been this team’s specialty in recent years, and an 0-2 start is not likely to convince Chris Ballard that he has the coach he needs to move forward with the franchise.
While Pagano completely missed the obvious challenge on a touchdown last week, he wasted one this week, and when it came to half-time adjustments, it was clear that the Cardinals made them a whole lot better than the Colts did. In addition, penalties were killers, including one for 12 men in the huddle immediately following a timeout. These are the hallmarks of badly coached teams and just cannot happen. No one watching expects Pagano to suddenly come into his own as a coach. Perhaps this one should come with the caveat that Pagano consistently being a loser actually makes fans winners because it lessens the likelihood of him returning in 2018. Chuck Pagano is a nice guy, I’m sure, but we’ve seen what he is as a head coach. A loser.
Winner – Chris Ballard
I hung an L on Ballard last week because of his poor job preparing this team with a real quarterback, so it is only fair to acknowledge the impact his defensive players had on this game. Al Woods, John Simon, and Nate Hairston all registered sacks, and Malik Hooker had a very nice interception. Quincy Wilson had a nice pass breakup and a very nearly picked ball as well. Those are all big impact plays that would swing the game in your favor if Andrew Luck is throwing the ball.
This defense is far from perfect, and I think we can expect to continue seeing them struggle against top passers, but they showed a ton of promise today, and that has to make Ballard pleased. When you have two corners and a safety who are all able to start and be competitive as rookies that is encouraging, and the more time they get to play the better they will get.
Loser – T.Y. Hilton
The Ghost is a convenient nickname for Hilton because it almost perfectly describes him. There are times where he can be unstoppable and uncoverable for even the best defenders, as if they can’t see or touch him. Then there are times where Hilton simply seems to disappear. 4 catches for 49 yards simply isn’t enough from your star wide receiver.
It doesn’t matter that Patrick Peterson is an incredible defender. It doesn’t matter that your quarterback is new and not Andrew Luck. If you are a number one receiver, arguably the best player on the Colts’ offense, you cannot disappear. The Colts need Hilton to step up in the worst way, and he simply hasn’t.
Loser – Marlon Mack
I really like Marlon Mack, and I think he was not used in the most effective ways today (See bad play calling above), but however you slice it 6 carries for -3 yards is not pretty. Mack did register a catch for 11 yards, so at least his yards from scrimmage were not in the negative on the day. Without having watched the film I cannot be sure what the issue was entirely there.
The plays that stuck out to me involved the defense getting into the backfield quickly, although there was one play where Mack danced around too much before making a north/south move and got stuffed for it. The film may reveal something more upon review, but for now, this was an ugly outing for the guy many hope can step in and fill Gore’s shoes when he retires.