The Indianapolis Colts cut it close in another road game in Week 2, but were able to squeak one out against the Tennessee Titans. This one had everything you wanted to see from a Colts’ game, and everything you never want to see again at the same time.
It featured more ballsy play-calling from Frank Reich, more missed kicks from Adam Vinatieri, more big plays on the ground, and Jacoby Brissett’s first three-touchdown game of his young career.
Maybe one of the best things that came out of this one aside from the resulting road win in the team’s initial AFC South matchup of the season, was the defense stepping up to ultimately get the Colts into the win column. In Week 1, the Colts were gashed by big plays and had their worst tackling performance in recent memory.
Sunday, the Colts didn’t force any turnovers, but they did clean up their tackling woes and weren’t allowing big plays either.
The Colts allowed only five plays of 15 yards or more, and only three Titans’ possessions netting 40 yards or more. The Colts held the Titans’ running backs to 91 yards on the ground, limited their receivers throughout the day, and earned another 4 sacks in spite of being without Kemoko Turay and Jabaal Sheard.
Additionally, the Colts’ interior defenders and linebackers put a much better performance on display than they had in Week 1 as well.
Denico Autry earned 2 sacks himself, Grover Stewart notched one as well, and Darius Leonard got himself back in line with double-digit tackles. As the defense turned themselves around after a disappointing Week 1, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus appeared to have learned from the lack of success his excessive blitzing produced a week ago as well.
We also saw really good performances from Quincy Wilson in coverage, Khari Willis being a physical presence on the perimeter, as well as the rest of the front seven clogging up the running lanes for most of the day.
The Titans were held to 1-of-10 on third down opportunities, and Frank Reich was very proud of the unit overall. “The defense really played well in all phases.. we take a lot of pride in ending the game with the ball in our hand, but our defense did a great job of getting the stop.”
Reich also noted his pleasure with the improvement of the interior defenders, as well as the play of a couple of the rookies.
Rookies Rock Ya-Sin, Ben Banogu, Bobby Okereke, and Willis have all seen healthy snap counts already through the first two weeks of the season, and there are a healthy amount of second-year players getting large workloads within this defense as well.
It’s fair to say that this group could represent the most complete unit the Colts have put together in recent memory and they’ve had a large hand in earning victories, doubling down on the quality drafting that Chris Ballard has displayed in just a few years as the team’s GM.
Should the youth continue to develop as the season continues, the 2019 season could be another very good year for the defense and relieve some of the pressure off of the offensive unit.