Over the last two weeks, the Indianapolis Colts have started to fall apart. There is little doubt that injuries have been a big factor but good teams find a way to get the job done. At this point, unless something changes, fans will need to accept that fact that the Colts are not as good as fans might have hoped after big wins in the first half of the season.
Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer displayed the weaknesses in his game that have led to his career-long journey around the NFL. While his first pass to Eric Ebron in the end zone should have been called a touchdown, he had plenty of chances to help lead the Colts back into the game, especially in the second half.
Instead, Hoyer threw two other interceptions. Both of them were awful throws, both in accuracy and choice of target. He locked onto his targets downfield and ignored his check downs on the Colts final offensive drive that could have resulted in a touchdown and a victory.
On numerous occasions in the final set of downs, check down options like Nyheim Hines were open in the flats and could have picked up important yards. Hoyer never even looked in the flat. He had an awful showing and made it clear that Jacoby Brissett needs to get healthy quickly if Indianapolis wants a chance to salvage its season.
Whether fans like it or not, the excuses are starting to sound ridiculous. It may be entirely fair that Adam Vinatieri’s missed would-be game-winner from a week ago was primarily the long snappers fault. Still, Vinatieri looks horrific when he kicks the ball. It regularly comes off of his foot awkwardly with disgusting looking sideways English.
Vinatieri missed some time in training camp and preseason this year dealing with an issue on his plant foot. It is possible that this physical issue is causing Vinatieri to be wildly inaccurate. If so, the Colts need to sit him until he is healthy and bring in another option. Outcomes of games and the weight of game situations have been too often impacted by missed kicking opportunities.
It is worth noting, after Eric Ebron complained about his lack of use in the offense, Brian Hoyer targeted him 12 times. He caught 5 passes on those targets, had one of his would-be catches stripped away for an interception in the end zone, and had another pass bounce off of his hands. It is feast or famine for Ebron this season and he will need to put things together if he hopes to earn a big contract in the off-season.
After breaking out over the last few games, Zach Pascal was relatively quiet. He finished with 2 receptions on 7 targets for 26 yards. It was clear that Hoyer was trying to force numerous passes to Ebron and Pascal and the Dolphins took advantage of it.
Defensively, Darius Leonard may have had the best game of his career. He finished with 13 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 interception, and added a pass defensed. He was everywhere on Sunday afternoon and was easily the brightest spot of the game for Indianapolis.
With that said, Ryan Fitzpatrick had far too much time to throw throughout significant portions of the game. The first half in particular, he stood in the pocket and simply allowed his receivers to get through their routes. Things were a little bit more difficult in the second half but the Colts are going to have to find a way to add to their pass rush to take another step as a defense.
The offensive line did a much better job against the Dolphins defensive line than they did in Pittsburgh a week ago. Hoyer had more time, a cleaner pocket, and was given opportunities to make plays. The unit also opened up running lanes, particularly in the second half. One has to wonder, without the costly turnovers and the missed PAT, do the Colts stick to the ground game more?
Either way, this is a difficult loss. This loss is as embarrassing as the win over the Chiefs was scintillating earlier this season. Chris Ballard and Frank Reich have their work cut out for them as the team returns to division play.
One can only hope that players start to get healthy. Especially Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton. I’m not sure the Colts will win a game until they do.