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Winners and Losers from Colts vs Chargers Week One

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Colts lost a heart breaker in overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday. They fought through uneven play and mistakes by the defense and special teams to get themselves within striking distance, but fell short of getting the win against a very good Chargers team.

While the loss itself is disappointing, the performance itself was encouraging. Several players stood out, and a few drew some negative attention. Here are this week’s winners and Losers.

Winners

Jacoby Brissett

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

How could we start anywhere else? Brissett played really well, going 21-27 for 190 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He got rid of the ball well, made accurate throws, and seemed in complete command of the offense. While many of his passes were simple and short, he hit some pretty incredible ones as well, and proved he is more than capable of leading this team.

The thing we most needed to see from Brissett was whether he could look like an NFL caliber quarterback and be a contributor to the team under center when facing tough competition. He proved he was up to the task today by doing everything the Colts asked of him. This is big for the team going forward.

Marlon Mack

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

“Run the Damn Ball” was the script written on Quenton Nelson’s hat back during OTAs. It was also the script for the game today, and Frank Reich stuck to it. Marlon Mack looked incredible playing out that script to, to the tune of 25 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown. His 7.0 per carry average was absolutely as impressive as it looks on paper. He looked like the same guy that brutalized the Texans back in the Wild Card round of the 2018 playoffs, and the Colts offense will really benefit if he can continue that dominant play.

T.Y. Hilton

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Hilton was his usual dependable self, making plays when the Colts needed him as he went 8 for 9, racking up 87 yards and 2 touchdowns. His biggest contribution came when he broke free of two Chargers defenders to rumble for a touchdown that gave the Colts the opportunity to take the game to overtime. If the connection between Brissett and Hilton works as well all season it will go a long way toward keeping the offense humming. It was definitely nice to see Hilton get off to a fast start on the season.

Malik Hooker

Look, the secondary wasn’t great on Sunday, and we’ll get there, but Malik Hooker did exactly what the Colts need him to do if they want to win games in 2019: take the ball away. Boy did he do that well.

Hooker’s one-handed grab in the end zone came when the Colts seemed to have the game slipping away. It gave new life to a team that was on the ropes, and it showed the prodigious skill of the young safety. This is a player we are going to be talking about a lot this season. He didn’t have a perfect game and there will be things that need to be improved upon going forward, but if he can create turnovers like this regularly, this team is going to go places.

Kemoko Turay

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

If not for penalties, Kemoko Turay would have had 2 strip sacks as well as a seriously impressive hurry that saw him running down Phillip Rivers with a vengeance. As it stands, his stat line is less impressive, showing just the 1 sack and resulting fumble. We have been waiting for Turay to have a breakout game, and this one seemed to fit the bill. He showed improvement in using a few different pass rush moves to win, and while he was up against a backup left tackle, it was exciting to see. Whether he can continue that level of play remains to be seen, but hopefully this is a glimpse of things to come.

Losers

Adam Vinatieri

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

We have to start here. It is a weird situation, to be sure. First, we can’t be too prone to overreaction. This was one week, and it just doesn’t make sense to freak out over one week’s performance. Vinatieri’s performance was abysmal, missing two field goals and an extra point. If he sinks one of those field goals, this team wins the game in regulation and the Colts get a tough road win to start their season. Instead, we got the performance of a man who seemed hurt. We can only hope the team doesn’t let the sentimentality over a legend like Vinny keep them hanging on longer than they should if he can’t improve.

Clayton Geathers

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It was not a good game for Clayton Geathers, who struggled to make tackles in a way he rarely has in the past. One of Geathers’ biggest strengths is that he has been one of the better tacklers on the roster since his arrival. Health has been a regular concern, but rarely tackling. However, his angles and poor tackling were a major part of the reason the Chargers carved up the Colts with their running game, as well as intermediate passing. They need him to be better.

Defensive Tackles

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The interior of the defensive line couldn’t stop the run to save their lives. They looked like the undersized defensive line they are. Primarily a speed group that thrives in the pass rush, it is well known that this is not a unit that is primed to attack the run. The Colts deal with some of that because they know the speed and penetration from this group allows them to get to the opposing quarterback.

Except they didn’t. Denico Autry, Margus Hunt, Jihad Ward, and Grover Stewart were non-factors in the pass rush, with the only real and consistent pressure coming from the ends. If this team is going to give their defensive backs a chance, that can’t be the case going forward.


Conclusion

Overall there was a lot to be optimistic about. This team is in better shape than many gave them credit for and they are going to win quite a few games this year. However, there is a lot to clean up, and if they want to beat playoff caliber teams, they can’t let stupid mistakes and mental errors cost them. We’ll just have to see if they can improve on those issues next week.