After a complete failure in every phase on Sunday, the Colts are left at 2-2, licking their wounds before heading on the road to face the prodigious Chiefs at Arrowhead. The loss to the Raiders stung, and highlighted some serious issues for this Colts team. It is no surprise that they now find themselves outside the top half of the league, with many outlets concluding what our eyes tell us: this is a team that simply isn’t good enough to make all the mistakes they made last week. Let’s take a look at how they stack up across the board.
How to increase their playoff chances: It’s not as simple as getting receiver T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) and linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) back. Will both players help? Definitely. But arguably the biggest issue the Colts face is trying to get a defense that finished 11th in the NFL last season back on track. They’re giving up 363 yards per game, which is nearly 24 yards more than they gave up last season. Getting to the quarterback will help too. The Colts only have two sacks in the past two games, after recording eight in the first two weeks of the season.
(If you can’t tell, they’re by far the most reactionary)
Before injury, WR T.Y. Hilton averaged shocking career-low 9.8 yards per catch. Indy must get 5-10, 183-pounder open in areas he won’t take a beating.
Sunday is a reminder of why you don’t assume anything in the NFL. On paper, the visiting Raiders looked like a lay-up for a solid (if banged-up) Colts team, but that’s not how it played out. The Indy defense, playing without All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard (concussion) and safety Malik Hooker (knee) allowed 188 yards on the ground and permitted the slumping Oakland offense to score three touchdowns in its first four possessions. Things weren’t a lot better on the other side of the ball. Eric Ebron had three ugly drops, while Jacoby Brissett threw a game-icing pick-six and struggled to move the offense until the Colts were playing catch-up in the fourth quarter. Brissett clearly missed wide receiver/safety blanket T.Y. Hilton, whose calf injury kept him in street clothes. The Colts will need Hilton healthy and productive to keep pace with the Chiefs in Arrowhead next week.
There are some things that the 2019 Indianapolis Colts just cannot afford. They can’t afford to let opponents get off to fast starts—this isn’t a team built to score points in bunches via the passing game. The Colts can’t afford to be one-dimensional offensively. And like every team in the league, the Colts can’t afford to turn it over.
All of those things happened to the Colts on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, and the result was a seven-point loss.
Oakland found the end zone on three of its first four possessions, racing to a 21-7 lead. The Colts had just 81 rushing yards and managed only 3.5 yards per carry. And a late pick-six by quarterback Jacoby Brissett all but ended any hopes of a Colts comeback.
”The Colts aren’t a bad team,” Davenport said, “but it’s becoming apparent that they aren’t an especially good one, either. The chances of this team going into Arrowhead and beating the Chiefs is only slightly better than my odds of winning Mega Millions, which means the Colts will hit the bye a flawed 2-3 team staring at the season getting away from them. If there’s a saving grace, it’s that the rest of the AFC South is just as bad—and maybe worse.”
Before burying the Colts for losing at home to the Raiders, at least acknowledge that they were without linebacker Darius Leonard and receiver T.Y. Hilton. Along with guard Quenton Nelson, Leonard and Hilton are two of the three best players on the roster. This is still a team that can win the division.