The Colts showed up in a big way for their week 3 home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Despite a slew of injuries and a valiant comeback effort from the Falcons, the Colts managed to hold on to get a win and push their record to 2-1 on the season. There were some excellent performances and some duds, so let’s get right to it and take a look at the week 3 winners and losers.
Maybe we can’t say for certain what we’ve got yet in Jacoby Brissett, but today told us quite a lot. Brissett hasn’t been asked to do much in the first two games, with the Colts heavily featuring the running game to generate offense. The Falcons played aggressively against the run, limiting the Colts ground game to 79 yards and putting the pressure squarely on Jacoby Brissett to beat them.
So he did.
Brissett was nearly perfect in the first half, going 21/27 for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns and looking like he was in complete command of the offense. He got the ball out quickly, his accuracy and ball placement was superb, and he was taking shots downfield that he has hesitated to pull the trigger on at various points earlier in the season.
With T.Y. Hilton out after the first half, Brissett cooled, throwing the ball just 10 times and amassing just 92 yards. He did not become careless or try to force the ball though, and trusted the offensive line and the running game to eventually wear down the Falcons defense.
This was by far Brissett’s best game as a Colt, and if this is the norm, this team is in really good shape. He still needs to develop chemistry with the younger receivers. Timing and placement of the ball were off at times once Hilton was out, and it was clear that when The Ghost is hurt, Brissett has a harder time deciding where to go with the ball.
All in all, a very good home opener for Jacoby.
Speaking of T.Y., the talented receiver put together a solid first half, making 8 catches for 65 yards and a score, all while struggling with an injured quad that kept him limited in practice this week. At some point during the game Hilton reinjured the quad, and after he scored his touchdown near the end of the first half, he got checked out by the medical staff and was sidelined to help prevent a significant injury.
Hilton continues to be Brissett’s preferred target, and has shone this season. This might not need to be a deadly passing attack because of the balance this team has, but T.Y. Hilton gives it the ability to be that anyway, and his dependability is excellent.
The safety hasn’t had a great season so far, having been thoroughly outshone by rookie Khari Willis last week. While he wasn’t perfect, and the All-22 may reveal issues not as easily spotted on the broadcast, Geathers’ pick of Matt Ryan as the Falcons threatened to score in the second quarter was a game changer. Geathers is a team captain, and that is exactly the kind of play a captain has to make.
The pick bailed out the defense which had just given up big gains to Julio Jones and Austin Hooper earlier in the drive. We’ve said all year that this team will need to win the turnover battle to win games, and Clayton Geathers helped them do that today.
Too much cannot be said of how well Frank Reich called this game. He twice got Zach Pascal so ridiculously open that it was a cakewalk to get him the ball. He got a touchdown for his efforts. Reich is doing that thing that great coaches do, where he adapts his weekly game plan to best fit the competition they’ll face that week.
While that might not sound groundbreaking, it is one thing to understand that concept and another entirely to execute it. Teams can’t just change what they are entirely, but they can change how they attack the opposition, and that is what Frank Reich does so well. He is constantly working to wrong-foot his opponents, but to do so inside the confines of what the Colts do really well.
Because of this team’s balance and Frank Reich’s brilliance, this is a Colts team that should be able to be whatever they need to be down the stretch offensively to make things happen. If this team continues to play the way they are, Reich should be on the shortlist for Coach of the Year.
Last but not least, Vinny made both his field goals, and hit all his extra points, although his opening field goal did bank off the uprights. Best of all, he had a standing ovation from the crowd, so give yourselves a win as well, for being supportive of the best kicker in NFL history.
I’m not convinced that Vinatieri is totally fine, but if this was a mental issue, he certainly powered through it Sunday. Now we just have to hope he has a normal Vinny-level rest of the season and we can forget this dreadful run of kicking ever happened.
Yeah, I could break this down by position group or individual player, but this one is pretty much a loss across the board. The defense couldn’t get stops on third downs, consistently allowing the Falcons to convert—as in 8 out of 10 times. They were soft in coverage and allowed receivers to be unchallenged well down the field.
Up front, the line couldn’t keep their linebackers clean, a job that was especially necessary since they were without Darius Leonard. That allowed the Falcons to run the ball well, even if they didn’t do it frequently. You might be more understanding of the line’s struggles if they had been preoccupied with getting after Matt Ryan, except that they didn’t do that either. Ryan wasn’t sacked, and was only even hit 4 times on the night. That simply isn’t good enough against top quality passers and an offensive line that was an inexperienced patchwork.
Players like Pierre Desir missed tackles and didn’t make plays on the ball on the back end, and Malik Hooker left the game for an undisclosed reason during much of the 3rd quarter. If the team can’t play better defense than this, they will have no hope at all of competing with top playoff teams in the AFC. You can bet the Patriots and Chiefs will feast on this kind of defense, and they won’t spot the Colts 128 penalty yards to keep themselves afloat. Their meeting with DC Matt Eberflus is unlikely to be a pleasant one this week.
- Kenny Moore played well, making solid tackles and getting off blocks well as always.
- Bobby Okereke played well in flashes, but showed that he has growing to do.
- Zach Pascal showed why the coaching staff like him. He played a tough game and got a touchdown for his efforts.
- Despite lower numbers, Marlon Mack continues to be a backbreaker late, running carefully and demonstrating patience and a brutal stiff arm.