While it has been clear in this first half that the Colts are still a young football team, displayed primarily by the inconsistency on offense and the lack of discipline resulting in some penalties, they have also shown real improvement. Describing this Colts defense as “fast” just doesn’t seem like it is doing it justice. When Redskins players catch the football in space, the space disappears instantly. The defensive line is getting off of the snap so fast and penetrating so much that even the running game is a complete mess for Jay Gruden and the Redskins after two quarters.
On offense, Andrew Luck is really comfortable looking for T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron, especially when he needs a big play. Both receivers have helped get the offense out of bad situations. Ebron scored for the second week in a row.
Let’s revisit the 5 keys to the game.
Find a Way to Limit Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson
Early in the game, the speed of the Colts defense really showed up, particularly against Chris Thompson. Kenny Moore closed the door on Thompson as he attempted get the edge and pick up a first down on 3rd and 1. This was a very difficult open-field tackle to make and Moore helped end Washington’s drive, giving Andrew Luck and the offense the ball back.
Create Pressure on Alex Smith
While the Margus Hunt’s sack didn’t count due to an off-sides call on rookie end Kemoko Turay, this is the type of pressure that will most certainly have a positive impact on the outcome of the game. It is stunning to see Hunt flash again as the most productive backfield presence on the Colts defense early on.
What is interesting about the Colts defensive line in this game is their get-off on the snap. It is something that they must have worked on a great deal in practice. This focus led to another off-sides penalty in the first half but also a sack for Jabaal Sheard.
Limit Jordan Reed
Reed was invisible for much of the first half and when he did get a target, Darius Leonard was all over him.
Establish a more Consistent Running Game
The first drive of the game was exactly what the Colts offense needs to do to dictate tempo and allow the Andrew Luck to do his best work. A lot of runs using different backs kept the Redskins defense off-balance. Washington was left guessing and Frank Reich drew up a fantastic opening series.
When the Redskins made some adjustments sledding became a lot tougher on the ground. It took some time to generate something in the passing game to soften things back up for the backfield. Even when it did soften up, we saw Frank Reich dial up some impressive misdirection and nifty calls that allowed the ground game pick back up and end up with Nyheim Hines’ first career rushing touchdown.
Make Big Offensive Plays
In what might seem like the strangest big offensive play you’ll ever have mentioned in a game, Jordan Wilkins was able to somehow escape a sure tackle in the end zone to save a safety. He may be the only back on the Colts roster who is able to survive that tackle and breath life into the coming offensive drive.
We saw another big play make a huge difference for the Colts offense. This time, T.Y. Hilton beat his man for a huge gain deep in the middle. It forced the defender to hold him and get called for pass interference. This long positive passing play, by way of penalty, softened up the defense and allowed the ground game to go back to work.
1pm PM ET on Sunday September 16, 2018
FedEx Field - Landover, Maryland
CBS - Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Adam Archuleta (color analyst)
WFNI (107.5FM/1070 The Fan) and WLHK (Country 97.1 Hank FM)
Mostly cloudy with scattered showers. Winds gusting up to 15 mph. - Per Accuweather