The Indianapolis Colts came into Foxboro depleted in multiple areas of their roster. It was ugly early, and the Colts were down 24-3 at halftime. The Colts were valiant in their comeback attempt, but fell to the Patriots 38-24.
The Colts will travel to play the New York Jets in Week 6, but are somewhat fortunate in getting the mini-bye between now and then to (hopefully) get healthy.
Through all of the bad we see, there was still some positive to glean from this game. Here are some of my takeaways from this Week 5 matchup.
Teaser: the rivalry is going to have to wait a year.
Andrew Luck was fantastic yet again
I mean.... how many drops can one team have in back-to-back weeks? Luck had his YOLO throw for the night when he targeted Nyheim Hines and it was picked off. Nevertheless, he put together another excellent game with all things considered.
Luck’s second interception of the night was due to Zach Pascal failing to secure a perfect pass, tipping it up and into the arms of Jonathan Jones. At this point it was beyond disappointing in what Luck was offering this young group, and they just weren’t carrying their weight when the team needed them to.
Luck finished 38-of-59 (64.4%) for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and I think you can easily argue that he was accurate on more than close to 80% of his passes tonight. Looking ahead, injuries or no, you just have to hope that Luck can continue to look this good for the duration of the season.
He may not have THE playmakers around him yet, but we can still marvel in his greatness when it’s on display.
Colts receivers need to sleep with the jugs machine
Maybe I already mentioned it above, but the past two weeks have been truly pathetic with at least a dozen drops from this receiver corps. They’ve virtually all been guilty of this in waves, and almost nobody has been immune. Zach Pascal, Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers has dropped a couple touchdowns and Eric Ebron has been especially bad as well.
Ebron was able to haul in a couple touchdowns tonight, but his consistency — or severe lack thereof — is a real issue when the Colts don’t have Jack Doyle to steady the tight end room.
It’s hard to comprehend how this group could go from having among the fewest drops through the first three weeks, then go to a team full of Darrius Heyward-Bey clones. I know this was a short week, but you’re going to Foxboro to play in prime time. Focus should not be an issue.
Colts protected Luck pretty well after giving up early sack
Luck took a 10-yard sack on the second offensive play of the game for the Colts and it felt very much like we should expect to see that a lot throughout the course of the game. That just never really came to be, though.
From that point on, Luck had time to scan the field, move to second and third progressions and do what Andrew Luck can do when he has time to throw. The Colts did stack the line with additional linemen using a couple of unbalanced sets, used Ryan Hewitt often in the H-back role and the running backs were asked to pull their weight in protection as well.
Luck did not take a single sack the rest of his 50-plus dropbacks and that is pretty impressive to say the least. Additionally, Luck was able to step up into the pocket tonight and deliver the ball as he did in Week 4. This, Colts fans have to like after years of him getting lit up week in and week out.
Colts defensive line couldn’t put the pressure on Brady
The other group who have been so surprising as a collective unit has been the hogs up front on the Colts defensive line. Margus Hunt, Denico Autry, Jabaal Sheard and even Jihad Ward — and even a few more — have put together really good performances as they’ve climbed into the top-tier of the NFL’s sack totals.
This front has been able to find success with good design from Matt Eberflus, and a solid chemistry that has been showing itself in the first month of the 2018 season. They don’t have any one dominant force to work off of, and have to use their speed and stunts to get pressure — but it’s working. After earning more than 4 sacks per game, this beat up unit couldn’t muster much of anything against the Patriots Thursday night.
Hunt and Autry both left the game early, joining several others before them, and they simply didn’t have the horses to get much done tonight. In all the Colts defense only touched Tom Brady 3 times and that’s never going to be enough.
The Colts need this break to get some of their pieces back for Week 6. Without the majority of their starters healthy, this roster would be a rough watch going forward. They’re resilient, but just not to the point where they can compete using second, and third-string defenders.