The Indianapolis Colts came into their Week 10 AFC South matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars with a lot to prove. Their offense had been electric lately, the defense inconsistent and they needed to put it all together against their divisional foes.
The Colts were fantastic offensively in the first half, but the second half left a lot to be desired overall. Defensively we saw the Colts rack up several tackles for loss, but not a single sack and only a couple of situations in which they really forced poor throws from Blake Bortles.
In the end, the Colts were saved by another play made by their defense in a crucial spot of the game to win 29-26
Colts can’t sustain a single drive in second half
After putting up 29 points in the first half and exploiting several weaknesses in the Jaguars’ defense, the Colts were completely shut out in the second half. The Colts only possessed the ball for 7:42 of the final 30 minutes of the game, did not maintain a drive of more than five plays, and also had an interception on one of two costly drops by Colts’ pass-catchers.
That is not winning football, and the Colts are incredibly lucky to have pulled one out against one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in terms of passing ability.
Eric Ebron has been one of the Colts best free agent signings in years
Many were worried about the acquisition of Ebron this offseason with his past issues of dropping passes. He’s some of that this year as well, but he’s been nothing short of fantastic for the Colts as a whole.
He’s only got two games this season without a touchdown, and now he’s got two games with multiple touchdowns. He’s had at least 7 targets in 5 of his 9 games played, already has a career-high in touchdowns, and he is on pace to shatter his previous best in receiving yardage.
Ebron’s 3 touchdowns today were perfect examples of what type of dynamic he brings to the offense with Luck under center. The tight end room was expected to be a strength for the Colts, but Ebron’s efforts have made it a unit full of mismatches for opposing defenses.
The Colts running game took a major step back
The Colts had been surprising everyone with their potent running game of late as they’d put up more than 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games and Marlon Mack looked to be breaking out as a true NFL lead back.
The Jaguars’ were a very average run-stopping defense up to this point in the season, but aside from Jordan Wilkins’ big 53-yard run, the Colts run game was stagnant and outmatched to say the least. The running backs weren’t hitting it hard, the blocking up front was very inconsistent and the Colts averaged just over 1.2 yards per carry (23 carries) without Wilkins’ only contribution to the game.
Now, the Colts did have successful plays in the running game such as the 2-point conversion from Mack, but there were also big disappointments as well. The Colts were up 29-23 midway through the fourth quarter, were in a 3rd-and-1 and couldn’t find any positive yardage in a big spot.
The Colts still need that complementary aspect of the running game to round out their offense despite Andrew Luck being so good in his comeback bid this year. It needs to return or the Colt will struggle down the stretch.
Colts tackling woes lead to big points
One of the largest takeaways from the Colts season thus far has been the linebacking corps largely being a very good tackling bunch. Anthony Walker has been good at keeping running backs and receivers to short yardage after the catch. Today, however, he was part of a unit that allowed far too much and it was a large part of the Jaguars ability to put points on the board.
About halfway through the second quarter as the Jaguars were driving, Leonard Fournette caught a screen pass from Blake Bortles and cut towards the middle of the field. Walker dove at Fournette, throwing a shoulder at him from behind, and it went for big yardage to get inside the Colts’ 5-yard line, and eventually the drive finished with a touchdown.
Another example was on the Jaguars’ first touchdown of the game as Donte Moncrief ran for an 80-yard touchdown reception. Near the 30-yard line, Malik Hooker had an opportunity to either secure the tackle or get Moncrief out of bounds. He did neither and Moncrief had a clear path to the end zone after that.
There were multiple other examples, but the other that comes to mind is the 12-yard pickup on 3rd-and-11 from Blake Bell after he dodged Kenny Moore which would have been about a 5-yard gain had Moore completed the tackle. Now the Colts lucked out and this drive ended in a punt, but they gave Bortles far too many opportunities to keep possessions alive.