The Colts are set to square off this Sunday against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Eagles in HC Frank Reich’s first game against his old team. Both team’s are rolling into this game with a ton of injuries as the Colts will be without 6 key players and the Eagles will be down their top two running backs along with many others being questionable. Despite all of these injuries, this should be a very good matchup between two of the better QB’s in football.
For the Colts to upset the defending champions, they need to have a near perfect game. Here are the 5 players who have to step up and perform well for the Colts to beat the Eagles.
Jordan Wilkins, RB
Rookie Jordan Wilkins has been very solid for the Colts this season. In the first two games, Wilkins has a total of 24 carries for 101 yards with an average of 4.2 yards per carry. With Marlon Mack out again this week, it appears as though Wilkins is in line for a bigger workload against the defending champion Eagles.
For the Colts to have a chance in this game, Wilkins (and the run game in general) needs to produce. The Eagles have a top tier pass rush who can pin their ears back and get to QB Andrew Luck if they are one dimensional. Establishing a good run game behind Wilkins and the young offensive line will be key for the Colts this Sunday.
Hard to see Jack Doyle playing Sunday in Philly. With him out, you'd assume the Colts use more of Eric Ebron, and move Erik Swoope back up to the 53.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 21, 2018
If no Marlon Mack, rookie Jordan Wilkins will slide back into the starting role.
TY Hilton, WR
TY Hilton has been solid this year but we are still waiting for the big breakout game. Hilton, perhaps the best deep threat in all of football since entering the league, has 12 catches for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season so far. Not a bad season at all for the number one wide receiver but the big play ability has not yet been on display so far. Hilton’s longest catch on the year is just 22 yards.
For the Colts to really open up their offense against the Eagles, they need to get Hilton involved down the field. The Eagles are very stout in their front seven but have been susceptible to big plays on the back end this year. Last week the Eagles gave up two touchdowns of 75 yards to the Bucs to DeSean Jackson and OJ Howard. For the Colts to be able to score with Carson Wentz and the Eagles, they must involve Hilton more in this game particularly on more deep shots.
Sirianni: TY Hilton moving around a lot is a staple of this offense. Him being their best receiver, they want to get him the ball.— Jake Arthur (@JakeArthurNFL) September 18, 2018
Jabaal Sheard, DE
Jabaal Sheard may not be having the flashiest season, notching just one sack in two games, but he is still the Colts’ best pass rusher. Sheard has been a steady contributor as a pass rusher this year as he is constantly working his way into opponent’s backfields and disrupting the passing game. He is matched up with pro bowler Lane Johnson this Sunday so it’ll be interesting to see how Sheard produces against one of the league’s top right tackles.
In order for the Colts to limit a now-healthy Carson Wentz, the pass rush needs to produce. Players like Margus Hunt and Jihad Ward have looked solid so far in this young season, but the pressure really needs to come from the edge in this game to contain Wentz. If Sheard can have a solid game and keep Wentz in the pocket, the defense will have a better chance at shutting down this hampered Eagles offense.
Shot 5 - Jabaal Sheard has been in this league for a long time and is just a good player. Ferocious against the run and savvy against the pass. Good veteran for these young #Colts pass rushers to work with every day pic.twitter.com/z4C3xYyXJ2— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 21, 2018
Darius Leonard, LB
Darius Leonard is looking like a really nice find for GM Chris Ballard. After a very dominant preseason, Leonard has took the league by storm. He leads the NFL with 28 total tackles through two games and has been a force all over the field. For the Colts to build off of their last win, Leonard needs to have just as good a game as last week against the Redskins where he took home AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The Eagles offense is really banged up right now. They are currently without three of their top four receivers and two of their top running backs. For the Colts to really limit what the Eagles can do on offense, Leonard needs to have yet another big game and shut down the Eagles’ run game and TE Zach Ertz. If Leonard and the linebackers do their jobs, the Colts defense could be in for another big game this week.
Maybe this has been tweeted, maybe it hasn't, but #Colts Darius Leonard is currently PFF's 2nd best rated LB with a +91.0 grade overall.— Luke Schultheis (@LuckAtLuke) September 21, 2018
For a rookie, I'd say that's pretty darn good.
Quenton Nelson, OG
Rookie first round pick Quenton Nelson has had a rough stretch of matchups to start his NFL career. In week one, Nelson faced off against star defensive tackle Geno Atkins and held his own. In week two, Nelson looked even better against first round picks Da’ron Payne and Jonathan Allen. Nelson was pretty dominant in the run game and was able to limit the two first rounders to no sacks in the passing game. This week Nelson faces another tough matchup in the form of Fletcher Cox.
If the Colts want to have any success on offense this Sunday, Nelson needs to limit Cox from impacting the game. Cox has been a dominant pass rusher from the interior in his NFL career as he has 36 sacks since 2012. His impact is felt all game though as he dominates at the point of attack and is involved in almost every play. Nelson must have the best game of his young career and continually show improvement if the Colts hope to win this game against the Eagles.