I wish I could tell you that I saw this coming. I didn’t. I really didn’t know what to expect but Frank Reich came out today and coached a fantastic game, Jacoby Brissett executed at a high level and the Colts had enough juice to get it done against a talented Falcons team. If anyone in the AFC South thought the Colts weren’t serious contenders for the division, this game should go a long way to proving that theory incorrect.
It’s not often I’m excited about a made field goal that banks in:
I'll take it... pic.twitter.com/I3ARhJgXUy— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
But seeing Adam Vinatieri hit a field goal was exciting no matter the circumstance. Vini had an all around solid day and that’s what we needed to see from the 46 year old future hall of famer.
From one hall of famer to the next:
Future hall of famer pic.twitter.com/raqCR5eJG5— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Obviously that’s just a nod to Pat McAfee’s draft announcement. I can’t say for sure how Bobby Okereke played, there were times I thought I noticed him in a bad way but he definitely flashed on this one. I’ll need another watch of the game to be able to say how the rookie looked in his first start.
Frank Reich takes risks I wouldn’t take:
Frank Reich's gamble pays off in a big way. Rock Ya-Sin one on one with Julio is something to watch. pic.twitter.com/hm9AgPJh5U— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
And that is one of but a million reasons Frank Reich is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and I’m sitting here writing about them. Regardless choosing to accept this penalty and move the Falcons back, out of field goal range ended up possibly saving 3 points, which was the difference in this game.
Moving the line of scrimmage:
I see the #Colts watched these #Falcons against the #Vikings too pic.twitter.com/1Ncip5DasB— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Early on in this game the Colts had taken a page from the Vikings playbook by spreading the Falcons front seven out wide and eating up yards on these outside zone runs.
Brissett threw this pass up and let T.Y. Hilton go get it:
Jacoby trusts T.Y. Hilton and I'm here for it. pic.twitter.com/mInaSQ8MMb— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Brissett shows a lot of trust in his receiver as Hilton wasn’t open on this play.
This play looks like so many other bubble screens:
Beautiful play design pic.twitter.com/QGW0INrU5A— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
I, like everyone on the Falcons, thought Brissett was throwing a bubble screen to Nyheim Hines, instead Zach Pascal released and got up field for the wide open touchdown catch. Great design and execution.
Clayton Geathers first career interception:
How 'bout this #Colts defense pic.twitter.com/i7KLDd4hjV— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
It took him five years and battling back from a lot of injuries but he finally snagged a pick off of Matt Ryan.
Tough matchup for a DB:
Shredding man coverage pic.twitter.com/3qOIy1ZulN— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Eric Ebron is a tough matchup for any defensive back. Here the play side receivers cleared out the defense so Ebron could run this route underneath for a big gain. Solid play design against man coverage.
Marlon Mack does his best Le’Veon Bell:
Patience pays off pic.twitter.com/I4dNWxKDnk— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
This clip doesn’t show just how patient Mack was. Watching it live I didn’t think there was any way he was going to get positive yardage, instead he knifes his way through for a nice gain.
Excited for Vini:
I've never been more nervous for a 21 yard field goal pic.twitter.com/T6YMW1ReB2— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Is it possible to root against Vini?
I really like Hines in space pic.twitter.com/EduCHv2CSC— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Hines hasn’t had a huge impact this season as the team has leaned on Marlon Mack as a three down back but in space he can be dangerous.
TY is off to a great start this season:
T.Y. is hurt after this play pic.twitter.com/0DTwCrA0Gf— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Hilton wouldn’t play another down on Sunday, leaving after this play with a quad injury. Every Colts fan should hope he can get back soon. In the first half alone he had 8 receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
A nice open field tackle from Anthony Walker:
Nice pic.twitter.com/QTCAePB9HH— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Walker made a difficult tackle in space and prevented what could have been a big play.
Kenny Moore with a solid day overall:
I know he just signed an extension but can we give Kenny Moore more money? I feel like he's already earned it. pic.twitter.com/y0RSZbghiI— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
He made a few tackles like the one above to really keep things in check. It’s not often your 5’9” slot corner is the guy setting your edge (for obvious reasons) but Moore made those tackles when the team needed him.
All in all Colts fans didn’t have much to cheer for in the 3rd quarter as the Falcons controlled the ball for the vast majority of the period.
Took 15 minutes to post another decent play pic.twitter.com/ItB2Bv7yi9— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
The Colts were finally able to get something going in the fourth quarter. Mo Alie-Cox picks up 15 of his 26 yards on the day on this catch.
Brissett makes it happen on third down:
A couple more games like this and I'll stop paying attention to college QB's again pic.twitter.com/9v2AawbNtf— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
These are the types of plays that NFL quarterbacks have to make from time to time if your team is going to win games.
Another great design:
I was literally pointing to Pascal on my TV hoping Brissett saw him too pic.twitter.com/vqEeeNuZSa— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Zach Pascal with another great acting job. Brissett with a nice ball. Big play for the Colts.
The very next play:
Stiff-arm city pic.twitter.com/6GPiBXyBFo— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
Marlon Mack just decided that no one was going to tackle him and if they tried he was just going to push them over. It worked out.
Matt Ryan had a clean pocket all day:
Turay finally got some pressure for the #Colts on Ryan pic.twitter.com/C5fwnkcwuq— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
But Kemoko Turay was able to impact this play. It was negated due to the accepted holding call but he finally had some success. I was worried about a pass rush that I felt had been inconsistent yet productive and it showed in this game.
Then Turay does this:
Good call pic.twitter.com/aMAbqepZkF— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
You can’t hit a QB high and you definitely can’t hit a QB high and late. One or the other and maybe the official doesn’t drop the flag, you do both and it’s 15 yards and a first down every time.
I can’t blame the DB:
Oliver made a business decision. #BigQ pic.twitter.com/m1y0dk3kFo— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
But I don’t want Quenton Nelson to take shots to his knees either. I think it’s funny when the broadcast announcers read off Nelson’s listed weight of 330 pounds. In a recent podcast interview with Taylor Lewan of the Titans Nelson admitted to weighing much more than that last season, putting on weight as the season went on. All of that weight is held up by those knees and the fewer hits on them, the better.
Frank Reich with another play I wouldn’t have called:
Ballgame pic.twitter.com/iWuaygdlge— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) September 22, 2019
And the Colts won a game I wouldn’t have won. Jack Doyle is a perfect tight end for this offense, a great blocker, solid when needed in the pass game. I don’t know if Chris Ballard plans to extend Doyle but his impact in multiple phases of the game will make it tough to move on from him.
We saw two very different halves of football from the Colts. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that T.Y. Hilton and Malik Hooker didn’t play early on in the second half. Hilton didn’t play at all and Hooker returned to the field in the fourth quarter. There was a noticeable drop off on both sides of the ball. Had Frank Reich and Matt Eberflus been given a week to prepare for a game without those players it’s possible their loss wouldn’t have been as noticeable. During the game, adjusting on the fly to two integral pieces of the team is difficult to do.
In the end it didn’t matter as the Colts got the hard fought win but both injuries will be huge moving forward this season.