On Sunday afternoon the Indianapolis Colts did a lot right. They held the Titans to less than 300 net yards of offense. They sacked Ryan Tannehill 6 times and forced 2* fumbles that they recovered. Jacoby Brissett had one of his better games this season in terms of aggressiveness, and Frank Reich called several excellent drives. Zach Pascal showed up in a big way, pulling down 7 catches for 109 yards.
Unfortunately, what they did wrong ended up winning out. Jacoby Brissett threw two awful picks that resulted in a ten point swing toward Tennessee. Adam Vinatieri missed 3 field goals, one of which was blocked and returned for a touchdown.
This game all but ushers the Colts out of playoff contention, and has many turning an eye toward the draft. Before we get into draft talk, let’s take a look at this game and award some winners and losers.
I was pretty critical of Anthony Walker early in the season when he was filling in for Darius Leonard. He racked up a lot of tackles, but also found himself out of position and missing tackles a great deal as well. With Leonard’s return he has been far better. His team-best 12 tackles along with a half-sack would have been enough to have given him an admirable performance, but it was his forced fumble on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage that set the tone for a defense that played a mostly good game.
The Colts weren’t done on defense through the first quarter. Rookie linebacker Bobby Okereke has been a rotational defender since the return of Darius Leonard, but took advantage of an opportunity and managed to both get a sack of Ryan Tannehill, and also force a fumble that was recovered by Justin Houston that set the Colts offense up on the Titans’ 33-yard line.
Not to be outdone in a linebacker group that shone Sunday, Darius Leonard had 11 tackles himself and added 2 sacks. Since his return he has been excellent, and his sack total for the season sits at 5 currently. That’s just 2 shy of his rookie season, despite having played in just 9 games this season due to his concussion. This was a solid day for the Colts linebackers, and Leonard came up big for them, as he seems to always do.
Zach Pascal and Jack Doyle
The Colts desperately needed someone to step up in the passing game, and both Pascal and Doyle answered the bell. They found themselves consistently open, accounting for 182 of the 319 passing yards, with Doyle grabbing a touchdown. Zach Pascal has really proven himself to be a talented part of the offense, and if though he is not up to consistently needing to play as the WR1, he certainly has earned a spot on this roster and should be a part of the team going forward.
- Kenny Moore got himself another half sack and continues his run of being a great slot corner
- Denico Autry got on the board with a half sack as well—his last sack came against the Titans in week 2.
- George Odum also had a half a sack, an impressive feat since he was in on just 12 defensive snaps.
- Marcus Johnson had another solid game with 4 catches for 55 yards.
Adam Vinatieri has gotten a lot of criticism this season and he’s deserved it. On the season he has hit just 68% of his field goals and 78.6% of extra points. Those numbers are unacceptable, and while there is room to note that some extenuating circumstances have hurt him at times, it ultimately doesn’t matter. Vinny missed 3 field goals in this game, and two of those were absolutely his fault. Sure, the second one was blocked, but all that block did was prevent the kick from knocking out an unsuspecting security guard standing in the tunnel.
The blocking deserves plenty of blame as well. It is pretty tough to kick a field goal with defensive players eating up the line, and that is exactly what happened on the kick that was blocked and returned for a touchdown. It was a play that swung the game, and it was a result of the line getting utterly beaten.
There are serious questions that need to be asked in the offseason with regard to a special teams unit that has been poor on the season. They rank 23rd in DVOA according to Football Outsiders. That is a phase of the game that they cannot afford to be lacking.
This was a strange day for Brissett. For much of the game he had receivers open in space. He took shots downfield with a level of aggressiveness we have not often seen for him. He moved well in the pocket for the most part, and was efficient with the ball. Late in the 3rd quarter though, he started to struggle. Brissett held the ball too long on a play, allowing the defensive end to get pressure after several seconds, and made a bad throw on the move that sailed over Jack Doyle and into the hands of a defender. The play simply took too long, and he made a bad throw. It resulted in 3 points for the Titans.
Brissett also has an awful habit of leaving the pocket well before he needs to. Often the result is that he finds himself under pressure where he otherwise would not have been. He did this several times, and took a sack on one that he chose to scramble with rather than throw away.
His worst play of the day came with a little under 5 minutes left. The Colts needed a comeback and Brissett decided to go wholly off-brand and throw the ball into triple coverage deep. This is something he traditionally doesn’t do, and was more than a little puzzling. Those picks as well as the special teams miscues ultimately cost the Colts this game and in all likelihood, the playoffs.
- Ross Travis lost a fumble late in the game that marred an otherwise fine game after being brought on to replace Ebron.
- Jordan Wilkins missed blitz pickups on a couple different occasions that resulted in issues for Brissett.