NFL seasons are made up of a series of opportunities. In Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, the Colts failed to capitalize on beating a playoff team on the road, even though they proved they were talented enough to win the game.
In Week 2, the Colts beat the Tennessee Titans on the road to take an early lead in the AFC South standings. They did so in an outdoor stadium and in the hottest recorded temperate in that stadium’s history.
To this point, Jacoby Brissett has been efficient with his passes but shown a greater level of comfort facing zone defenses than he has shown against man coverage. Anticipation and throwing players open are something he’ll need to develop quickly if the Colts hope to stun national media and find their way back into the playoffs.
In order to make this push, Indianapolis must capitalize on opportunities to win at home. The Atlanta Falcons are a talented football team with enough flaws that the Colts need to find a way to come out on top.
It is fair to say that the Chargers are a more well-rounded football team. The Colts should have beat the Chargers. They need to win this one.
With the return of pass rushing specialist Kemoko Turay from a neck injury that has been bothering him since Week 1, Matt Eberflus needs to find a way to pester Matt Ryan. Similar to Philip Rivers, Ryan will pick apart opponents who don’t force him to get the ball out quickly or to move off of his spot in the pocket.
Consistent pressure will shift the focus to the back-end. Malik Hooker flashed his athleticism with a one-handed interception against the Chargers and nearly had another in Nashville. Ryan has plenty of wide receivers who want attention and Hooker should have his opportunities.
Rookie safety Khari Willis will also play an important role. He has more range than Clayton Geathers and may need to play opposite Hooker to help corral Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu.
With Darius Leonard out, rookie linebacker Bobby Okereke will have big shoes to fill. His ability against run and pass could play a big role in the outcome of the game, particularly if Ryan tries to exploit the shallow middle of the field.
Finally, Pierre Desir’s status will be worth noting. He is not on the inactive list but if the Colts try to limit him, Quincy Wilson will be asked to pick up where he left off against the Titans. Aggressive, tight man coverage, particularly against Austin Hooper, could leave Ryan exposed for Turay and Justin Houston.
Perhaps the biggest key of the game on offense is to limit the impact of Grady Jarrett. When he lines up over Mark Glowinski, it will be a difficult battle and could turn the game. If the Colts can run the ball away from him and can keep him from getting pressure in Jacoby Brissett’s face, it will bode well.
Other than that, opponents will do what they can to stack the box against the Colts if the running game continues to produce. The biggest key for Brissett’s development may be reading the defense pre-snap and identifying his one-on-one targets for big players down the field. If the offense can find a way to break the game open vertically, everything should open up nicely.
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