The good news is that ugly wins don’t measure differently in the standings. That’s good, because the Colts could hardly have won an uglier game than the one they played on Sunday, but win they did. At the end of the season what will matter is that they scraped out a tough win when they needed to. Getting there was a different thing entirely.
Let’s take a look a bit closer and see who the winners were in this contest.
When you throw the ball for just 202 yards, it obviously wasn’t a great day through the air. Jack Doyle’s 4 catches for 61 yards were more than a quarter of that production, and 2 of those catches came on 3rd downs and moved the sticks. While the receivers as a whole struggled to make a real impact on this game, Doyle came up big when he was needed.
In keeping with the day at large, his game was far from perfect. He drew a holding penalty, and also fumbled the ball after a catch, but was saved when it bounced out of bounds before Denver could recover it.
I’ve heard people argue that Jacoby Brissett had a bad game Sunday, and that just doesn’t reflect what I saw. Was he great? No. There wasn’t much that was great on Sunday. Brissett was hit 7 times and sacked 4. He was under consistent pressure from a good Broncos unit, and struggled reading a complex and talented defensive game called by Vic Fangio.
Brissett continues to show himself to be cool under pressure, evading pass rushers and scrambling for yards when the play dictates it. He isn’t a run threat in the traditional sense, but his ability to pick up good yardage when defenses give it changes how teams have to play him, and he did it to the tune of 34 yards Sunday.
Like Doyle, Brissett’s game was not without struggles. He fumbled the ball on a play where he held it entirely too long and took a sack. Those turnovers catch up to you, and they simply cannot happen. The Colts are just not good enough to give away the ball and consistently win.
The mark of a great quarterback is how they play in crunch time. When the game is on the line and you need a score, what do they do? With 1:48 left in the game and down by 1 point, the Colts got the ball back on their own 11. With Von Miller bearing down on him, Jacoby did what they needed him to, and what many have questioned his ability to do: He evaded the pressure and made a pinpoint strike 35 yards downfield to T.Y. Hilton.
It was an incredible play, and began the drive that would end with an Adam Vinatieri field goal for the lead. As much as there can be a winner in such an ugly game, Brissett showed he was one when the chips were down, despite struggles to be effective at various points in this game.
When Kemoko Turay went down, the hope was that rookie Ben Banogu could step up and fill in some of his production. He may not approach what Turay could have done if healthy, but he certainly had a good game considering that he was in on just barely more than half the snaps Sunday. In that time, he had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage and a sack-fumble to close out the game at the end. If they can get similar production out of him every week, they’ll feel really good about his rookie season.
This one is complicated. I am in no way ready to let Vinny off the hook here. He missed a field goal and an extra point in this game, and that has to be addressed. I don’t care what the coaching staff says, his inconsistent kicking is a problem that they can’t just pretend isn’t happening.
Having said all that, he was good from 45, 51, and 55 yards out, with the game winning kick coming from 51 yards out. There are still questions to be answered. We don’t know all the circumstances or struggles here, but ultimately Vinatieri was able to kick himself out of the hole he created, and the Colts won the game because of him. For this week, and under the circumstances of this game, that makes him a winner.
This was perhaps the worst game this offensive line has had as a unit in its current iteration. They clearly struggled with the stunts and loops from the Broncos defense, and were wildly inconsistent. On one down they obliterated the defense and left a four-lane highway for Marlon Mack to run through. At other times they got no push and allowed easy penetration into the backfield.
There was uncharacteristic pressure on the interior as Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Mark Glowinski all struggled to deal with pressure and hand off defenders effectively. This resulted in Brissett scrambling quite a bit and buying more time in the passing game.
The players said the defense showed a lot of “unscouted looks” that had them confused at times, which likely played a role in their struggles.
I had multiple Colts offensive players tell me they got a number of unscouted looks on defense today, and I think it showed in their offensive performance. Very ragged overall and always seemingly one step behind. Credit to the Broncos.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) October 27, 2019
Ultimately, I expect this unit to recover. This was a very good defense and a very good defensive coach they faced. Hopefully they will learn and grow from this into a better group.
This was a brutal game from the rookie. His penalties kept countless drives alive, and while some of those penalties were very suspect, many of them were not. Ya-Sin is a physical player, and that will always lend itself to more penalties. However, it became clear that the Broncos were going to pick on Ya-Sin as he struggled to deal with Courtland Sutton in this game.
Ya-Sin’s primary issues have been in terms of locating the ball once it is in the air. He is rarely far from his man, sticking closely to receivers and disrupting them at the line of scrimmage. Once the ball is in the air, though, he just isn’t making plays on it. That is an area of his game that he needs to grow a great deal in.
It is important to remember that this position is incredibly tough to learn, and this is a second round pick who is a full blown starter at the cornerback position. In the absence of Pierre Desir, he had the unenviable task of taking on a very good receiver. The ceiling is high for Ya-Sin, but we knew going into this year there would be some lumps he’d likely take. This week he took a lot of them.
Wide Receiver room
The wide receivers for the Colts on Sunday were largely a non-factor. Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, and Parris Campbell combined to go 2 of 5 for 13 yards. T.Y. Hilton wasn’t much better, with just 2 catches on the day, although one of them was Brissett’s brilliant 35-yard laser that Hilton toe-dragged out at the sideline.
There were various reasons that may have contributed to the struggles of the group. Pressure on Brissett certainly impacted where he could go with the ball. Ultimately, without the All-22 it’s tough to know how effectively the receivers were winning their individual match-ups, but what is not tough to tell is how that impacted the game. The Colts couldn’t move the ball through the air well, and it was clear that when facing a good secondary, this is still not a receiver room that can be counted on to produce.
I am thinking about just copying and pasting this section every week from here on out. They were awful, as usual. All game long, the calls were inconsistent and perplexing. The only call they got right was when they correctly overturned the challenged no-call of a game-changing pass interference committed against T.Y. Hilton. So I guess give them credit for that.