The Colts ground out a hard-fought team win against the Titans on the road yesterday, and while it wasn’t always a pretty game, at the end of the day, it was a win. The Titans defense came ready to play and made life difficult for the Colts, putting consistent pressure on Brissett and making it hard to get any consistent offensive attack going.
Adam Vinatieri struggled again as well, missing a pair of extra points that threatened to cost the Colts yet another game as the Titans drove down the field looking for a field goal that would’ve sealed the game in their favor late.
This week, unlike last, the defense stood tall and carried the team on its back. While the offense and special teams struggled, the defense held when they needed to and harassed Marcus Mariota, sacking him 4 times. They also held the Titans to just 1 3rd down conversion, and just 17 points total.
As we did last week, let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from this tough divisional matchup.
Winner: Denico Autry
Autry was quiet much of last week, and to be honest it was a little surprising. He looked great all offseason and had only really struggled last year when he wasn’t healthy. In this game, however, he looked fully back to normal. Autry was active, with 4 tackles and 2 sacks, one of which also forced a fumble.
While last week the team couldn’t get regular pressure up the middle, Autry consistently got it against the Titans and found ways to wreak havoc. If they can get regular pressure up the middle from Autry, this team is going to do a lot of damage on the offensive line. With Turay out due to a neck issue and Jabaal Sheard still nursing a knee injury, this performance was just what they needed.
Loser: Adam Vinatieri
Who else could lead off the losers category? Vinny is a legend, and he absolutely deserves the love and respect of Colts nation. He does not deserve a spot as the current kicker of the Indianapolis Colts however. After a rough start to the season and a poor playoff performance, it is safe to say that Vinny’s extra point misses are not a fluke. If not for a stout finish on defense, this could have cost the Colts another game. Thanks for all you’ve done Vinny, but it might be time to hang those cleats up and spend some time with your grandchildren.
Winner: Khari Willis
The Colts rookie safety had a strong showing today, playing quickly and decisively and making some good hits throughout the day. He ran Marcus Mariota out of bounds and delivered a good clean hit on a scramble, got off blocks well, and was a very sound tackler wrapping up Sharpe short of the line to gain late in the 4th quarter to force a punt.
So far through two games Clayton Geathers has left something to be desired, and if Khari Willis keeps playing games like this, it won’t be long before Geathers finds himself in the backup role and Willis takes over opposite Hooker.
Loser: Mark Glowinski
So far in 2019, Mark Glowinski’s year is not going as well as it did in 2018. Jacoby Brissett was credited as being sacked 3 times in this game, counting his weird fumble. On the two plays that were what you’d call “normal” sacks, guess who was the guy getting beat? If you guessed someone other than Glowinski, you are really bad at this.
Without the benefit of the All-22 to fully reveal the extent of the issue, we can say with certainty that Glow had a very bad game, and he wasn’t great against the Chargers. Any illusions that the Colts may have had that their line was a finished product can be dispelled, because they’ve still got work to do on the right side.
Winner: Jacoby Brissett’s Evasiveness
Jacoby Brissett is not Andrew Luck. People continue to feel obliged to remind Colts fans of this as if we don’t know it. He does share one of Luck’s traits though, a ridiculous ability to stubbornly avoid being taken down. Brissett shrugged off would-be tacklers on several occasions against the Titans as he extended the play and no doubt infuriated those who were already planning their sack dances.
This ability to extend plays is a really impressive display of strength, and it is exciting to see that Brissett possesses it. He is just not ever going to be a player that can be easily pushed around, and it will take a solid effort to put him in the dirt. All that would be really encouraging too, except…
Loser: Jacoby Brissett’s Decisiveness
I’m not sure what exactly is the issue here. Without the benefit of the All-22, we can’t totally see what Brissett was seeing on many of these plays. What we know for sure is that despite extending plays and being really tough to tackle, Brissett was rarely able to turn those extended plays into anything. He seems to display a consistent inability to work through his progressions, often locking on to players and making his intentions too clear to defenders like Logan Ryan who telegraphed his pass to T.Y. Hilton.
Additionally, he makes odd indecisive choices like his scramble where he ran for what was very nearly a first down, only to decide he should awkwardly slide at the last moment, inches shy of the first down. Not only was the slide a poor one, but he came to that decision so late that he still was hit oddly for his troubles. We haven’t seen nearly enough yet to know what Brissett is or isn’t, but one thing we can say he is not yet, is a finished product.
Winner: Jordan Wilkins
Despite starting the season struggling with a foot injury, Wilkins came in and made the play that really swung the momentum in the game. Whether due to the heat, a matchup advantage they were looking for, or an undisclosed injury, Marlon Mack took quite a few breaks during the game. With just 5:31 left in the 4th quarter, Wilkins got the carry and broke a 55-yard run that put the Colts on the doorstep of the end zone and set up T.Y.’s touchdown on the very next play to put the team ahead.
This play was huge. The Colts had struggled to get much of anything going on offense, and honestly the deficit had felt nearly insurmountable for much of the 3rd quarter, even though it wasn’t all that significant. Wilkins’ big run was a breath of fresh air and shifted the feel of the game immediately into the Colts favor. His 82 yards was the best on the team, and it was great to see him back in action.
Winner Honorable Mentions
- Parris Campbell got his first NFL touchdown on his lone target of the day.
- Eric Ebron had an insane hurdle that was later followed by a great shuffle pass touchdown.
- Darius Leonard had 10 tackles and a sack to his credit.
- Grover Stewart got himself a sack.
Loser Honorable Mentions
- The defense as a whole did great at creating turnovers opportunities, but terrible at capitalizing on them. Bobby Okereke dropped a gimme interception, Hooker dropped a one-handed pick, Al-Quadin Muhammad tried to scoop up a fumble instead of falling on it, and Leonard and Walker knocked a fumble away from one another. If they had made these plays, this game looks dramatically different.
- Pierre Desir left the game with a knee injury. Given the depth at the position and the youth filling in, there is no guarantee he ever gets his spot back.
- Deon Cain drew an early pass interference penalty, but was a complete non-factor in this game otherwise.
- Nissan Stadium literally caught on fire shortly before kickoff. This is what we call foreshadowing in storytelling.