A win is a win, or so the saying goes.
The Colts were able to capitalize on another dominant defensive performance to get to 3-1 and gain some separation over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans for second place in the AFC South a quarter of the way through the season.
The pressure on Nick Foles was somewhat inconsistent but he was hit five times by Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner, 2 and 3 respectively — and sacked once by Houston. The secondary broke up passes with regularity and rookie safety Julian Blackmon was responsible for three passes defensed, including one that was nearly a backbreaking forced fumble, and an interception in the red zone.
For Colts fans, there is a Twilight Zone feeling to the start of this season. When the Colts offense takes the field there is no telling what will happen and it is easy to simply hope they don’t turn the ball over. When the defense takes the field there is some expectation that a big play could be just around the corner and that good things can happen for the offense — both in terms of field position and points on the scoreboard.
When has that been the case in Indianapolis? Get back to me.
One of the biggest concerns on offense is that Philip Rivers had a horrifyingly inaccurate game throwing the football. He overthrew or underthrew numerous receivers, eliminating any chance for the offense to get rolling. He looked like he lacked confidence in his arm and was trying to change his mechanics or “aim” his passes to figure it out.
In his defense, the offensive line is seemingly entirely unable to win in the trenches. The best game plan for the Colts still seems to be pulling Quenton Nelson to vaporize unsuspecting linebackers and corners. It was tough sledding getting anything going between the tackles and the lack of threat in the passing game allowed the Bears to stack the box no matter the situation.
Tight end Mo Alie-Cox is heads and shoulders above any other receiving weapon on the team right now. He wasn’t target in the second half.
T.Y. Hilton had three receptions for 29 yards and hasn’t been able to dominate opponents this season as he has in the past. His savvy route running still draws key penalties in games that result in offensive points on the board. Still, no one is afraid of the Colts receivers and it has been clear in every game this season.
Perhaps most concerning about the offense is that it appears abundantly clear that Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni are lost on how to address the issues. Nothing has happened to improve in any facet of the offense in four weeks. The red zone issues are still apparent. The third down efficiency is still putrid. The play-calling often leaves a whole lot to be desired.
Why is Nyheim Hines receiving 9 carries when Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Taylor are both clearly the better rushers? Why is Hines getting the ball on inside zone runs in short-yardage situations when he has no hope of generating any push after initial contact? What’s the point of having Wilkins — who has an incredible knack for gaining positive yards — and Taylor who is built like a tank if you won’t use them when their traits are clearly most valuable?
Maybe Reich and the offense haven’t shown their hand yet? Perhaps Rivers is still adjusting to the new offense? Maybe there are some lingering injuries on the interior of the offensive line that aren’t big enough to hold players out of games or list them on an injury report but are enough to impact the on field performance?
It’s an odd situation as a fan and writer to have a relatively worried or negative response to a big road win against an undefeated opponent.
Yet, here we are.
With one reception on 2 targets and a touchdown, Alie-Cox is the offensive bright spot. Taylor nearly broke a big run down the sideline late in the game — that’s a distant second.
Defensively, it was a team effort. Houston and Buckner were big on the defensive line, Blackmon was big in the secondary and the linebackers were good enough to not mess those things up.
It is a wait and see on how long Darius Leonard will miss with a groin injury and how serious Rock Ya-Sin’s non-contact leg injury was near the end of the game. The unit is hitting on all cylinders and having everyone healthy will increase the odds that keeps going.
All I know is that the Colts through the first four weeks are not ready to play the Browns in Cleveland. It’s important that the offense gets things figured out or the good feelings may be short-lived.