The Indianapolis Colts put together a great game Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins. The coaching was excellent, the defense virtually dominated the Skins’ all day and Andrew Luck looked like himself for long stretches of the game.
The Colts defense didn’t allow a single drive of more than 6 plays in the entire first half, allowed only 9 points for the game and was excellent on third downs. Offensively, we saw more of the methodical approach to the design of Frank Reich’s system. They had four possessions with at least 7 plays Sunday, and did a pretty good job of protecting Luck while maintaining a balanced gameplan.
If last week didn’t at least force you to acknowledge that the Colts had the offense to win games, and a pesky defense with a lot of potential, then this week had to have raised your eyebrows. With that, here are the Colts’ game balls for their Week 2 road victory.
In some sense the Colts’ offensive line deserves a ton of credit for how they played against a difficult front seven of the Skins. However, in a backfield that has yet to really create any real threat on the ground, or consistency for that matter, Wilkins made a big difference in how the Skins had to look at the Colts offense.
They weren’t given the luxury of knowing what was coming. Luck’s 31 attempts was complemented nicely by the running back’s 24 carries in their first win of the 2018 season. Wilkins found holes that weren’t there initially, created yards when there wasn’t one at all, and showed some explosion when the hole opened on time.
The rest of the Colts backfield had 14 carries for 41 rushing yards (2.92 YPC) and that’s not nearly enough to create a balanced gameplan. With Wilkins getting good chunks early and often, it allowed Frank Reich to keep the offense unpredictable and Luck to continue to spread the ball around.
Wilkins averaged 6.1 yards per carry and helped stabilize the offense throughout the game. Though I think T.Y. Hilton could easily be a candidate for this with his 7 catches, 83 yards and a touchdown, I just felt Wilkins’ success was more impressive for how the game was played offensively.
What could I even say that would convince you to give the defensive ball to anyone else? The Colts did get some very good play from a handful of players, but none of them were as impressive as Darius Leonard.
Leonard had 18 total tackles (15 solo), he forced a fumble, and notched a sack as well. The Skins ran 71 plays Sunday which means that Leonard was involved in the tackle on more than 25% of the defensive plays. That’s really impressive.
Leonard has shown that he’s as consistent as anyone, plays hard every single snap and is an absolute building block for this defense. His 18 tackles was the most for a Colts linebacker in a very long time, and he’s having such an effect on those who are on the field with him.
Right now, he’s the best player on the Colts defense, and he’s a rookie. Soon, he could be considered one of the best at his position in the league. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. He’s really good in coverage, he’s a tackling machine, and he’s always trying to make a play for this defense. I’d say that’s a pretty successful draft pick for Ballard.
Instead of handing out a game ball to the special teams this week, I decided to give it to the coach who made the right decision before the game even started. Frank Reich and Chris Ballard do a lot as a pair, but I don’t know if Ballard has much to do with active/inactive players each week.
At any rate, keeping Tarell Basham inactive on Sunday was the right move, and it payed off. I know we’re all saying “It’s so early, don’t dump him yet.” or “He’ll develop, Mathis took until his second year to develop.” Look, maybe he will develop, maybe he won’t. However, right now, if Basham is on the field, he’s taking away snaps from people who are better at doing what he was drafted to do — rush the quarterback.
Ryan Delaire was initially on the roster, and was better than Basham. A few cuts later Delaire was gone, Tyquan Lewis was placed on IR and thus, they kept Basham around and began to put him in the role Lewis was expected to hold. Now, the Colts like what Jihad Ward can do from the interior, Al Quadin-Muhammad is more productive off the edge and Basham looks like the odd man in this bunch.
Look, I’m not necessarily saying that I think Basham will be let go, but he definitely hasn’t earned his way onto the field on game day. Kudos to Reich for recognizing it and giving those snaps to someone who can get the job done. The Colts tallied 6 quarterback hits, 11.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks — I think this group has shown that they can get some pressure into the backfield.