I’m starting to get extremely frustrated with Reich, as I think he is the one holding this team back. The defense, led by Eberflus, is elite and gave the Colts more than enough chances to win the game but some unlucky mistakes, and the usual uninspiring play-calling from Reich, meant the Colts lost 24-10.
#1: Play calling on the second drive
As has been the case through most of this season, the Colts offense comes out of the game humming along, and Sunday was no different. After punting on the first drive, Indy put together a beautiful 8-play drive with all the concepts that I loved from Reich this year. The intermediate passing game was working wonders, some wrinkles here and there with newly promoted DeMichael Harris, and the cherry on top was a Jonathan Taylor one-yard touchdown to put the Colts up 7-0. Shame it all came crushing down just one drive later.
#2: Forcing Lamar to throw the ball in the first half
The key to shutting down the Ravens offense is actually a really simple concept, stop the run game at all costs, and force Lamar to make some throws he is not comfortable making. The Ravens mobile quarterback struggles a lot throwing the ball outside the numbers, and in the first half, the Colts defense forced him right into that. Eberflus completely negated last season’s MVP and had it not been for the fumble returned for a touchdown, the Colts would have pitched a shutout in the first half.
#3: Rotation of defensive line
One thing I love about the Colts defense is the amount of depth on the defensive line, and how well the rotation is handled by Eberflus. On the inside, All-Pro DeForest Buckner and emerging star Grover Stewart take all the flashes, and deservedly so, but backup Taylor Stallworth has been looking really good and has been an underrated addition to the group. On the edges, Justin Houston and Denico Autry have the ability to break up opposing game plans, but the emergence of Tyquan Lewis has been surprising. Couple that with Muhammad’s ability to make plays and the return of Kemoko Turay probably next week, and the Colts have themselves one of the finest groups in the NFL.
#1: All offensive plays after Taylor’s fumble
Reich has yet to prove himself after Luck’s retirement, and Sunday’s game was perhaps the most frustrated I have ever been with him. His play calling is just so vanilla, it is exasperating. The fact that the Colts have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL, while having a top offensive line and a serviceable stable of running backs is beyond me, and Reich has to get it together. I’m not calling for his head just yet, but the last two seasons have been extremely mediocre from him and it is really frustrating to watch such a dominant defense go to waste because Reich can not figure out what the hell to do.
#2: Shutting down JT after the fumble
Fumbles happen, and JT was running really well before the fumble and with Wilkins having a tough game I do not understand why Reich benched him after his mistake in the first quarter. It is not like fumbles have been a problem all season long with Taylor, as this was just his first fumble of the year and it looked like a good play by the defensive player rather than a dumb mistake from Taylor. The handling of the running backs has not been on point by Reich, and it is one of the reasons why the running game is struggling so much.
#3: Play action on 4th and 1
The Colts were down 11 with over 5 minutes remaining, but facing 4th and 1 on the Ravens’ 16-yard line. Reich tried to get too pretty, and instead of just running Taylor behind your All-Pro generational talent left guard, he called a play-action pass with the slowest quarterback I have ever seen and the result was what you would expect. The Ravens sniffed it out, pressured Rivers, and the incompletion was the final nail in the coffin for Indy.