Honestly, did any of you see a good decision by the coaching staff against the Broncos? Eberflus did a fine job preparing his defense, but they were facing a mediocre offense that was decimated by injuries, and that had just traded their #2 receiver during the week. I really cannot think of any good decisions the coaching staff made during the course of the game. Reich got severely out-coached by Vic Fangio, and in the end the Colts escaped with a win only because of an insane play by Jacoby Brissett, a clutch kick by Adam Vinatieri, and Denver’s apparent lack of interest in winning.
#1: Having Ya-Sin shadow Sutton one-on-one in the first half
In case you did not know by now, Courtland Sutton is one of the best young receivers in the NFL, and he has been having a breakout season even while stuck in a mediocre offense. With Pierre Desir out with an injury, rookie CB Rock Ya-Sin was asked to shadow Sutton one-on-one for most of the first half. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle a lot, considering they are still adjusting to NFL receivers and what gets flagged and what doesn’t, but Ya-Sin got absolutely abused by Sutton on Sunday. After the Broncos opening 3rd quarter drive, where Sutton burnt Ya-Sin twice for over 20 yards, Eberflus’ finally starting sending some help to Rock’s side, but the damage was already done.
#2: Running the ball down the middle with Hines
This might seem like a reach, considering how Hines just ran the ball 4 times during the game, but it just baffles me how Hines (who has a career 3.5 YPC and in fact is averaging just 2.5 YPC this season) gets to run the ball in significant situations over Jordan Wilkins, who has been extremely efficient in limited usage. There was one drive specifically, where Hines got a nice 11 yard-run, but after that Reich gave him the ball two more times, resulting in a 3rd and 11 that killed the drive.
#3: Lack of aggressiveness in final drive
With the Colts having a 1st and 10 on the Broncos’ 34 with 1:30 remaining in the game, I expected Reich to try and get Vinatieri a little bit closer to the goal posts, especially considering how shaky he had been during the game. Instead, Reich just ran the ball a few times to kill the remaining clock and trusted Vinatieri to nail a 51 yarder to win the game. Sure, Vinatieri eventually nailed the kick and the Colts won, but why not try and get an extra 10/15 yards taking into account your kicker has been struggling?
#4: Lack of underneath routes
Jacoby Brissett has been excellent on short throws, and the Colts offense has relied mostly on short/intermediate routes to move the ball through the air. On Sunday, the Colts offense seemed to abandon that and instead focus on deeper looks. Considering that the Colts were playing one of the best defenses in the NFL, and how Colts’ receivers not named T.Y Hilton have not been getting any real type of separation down the field, I don’t think it was the right call to abandon the underneath routes. It is not like the Broncos defense was actually forcing the Colts to try and beat them deep. There were several instances where no Colts receiver even ran a route under 5 yards.