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Highlights from week two: Colts vs. Vikings

Minnesota Vikings v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This is the performance most of us assumed we would see last week in Jacksonville. Instead the Jaguars, at least early on, are much better than anyone outside of Duval County thought they would be.

The Colts were dominate on both sides of the ball all day long. With that said, there were issues inside the redzone for the offense but this game was never close and the offense gets another week to fix what has been a problem so far this season.


First Quarter

Things didn’t start well

This play came right after the Colts committed a penalty on third down that gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs, when they should have been punting. I believed we were in for a long day of watching Dalvin Cook gash the defense but Gary Kubiak, obviously busy reminiscing about his days coaching in the AFC South, forgot to give him the ball until the game was all but over. Thanks, Coach.

Third and goal from the three

This was just Kubiak’s second game calling plays for these Vikings so it makes some sense that things are out of sync. At some point you would think that having a back as good as Dalvin Cook you wouldn’t go with an empty backfield inside the 4 yard-line and an immobile QB taking the snap.

A terrible injury

Paris Campbell was injured, once again, on this play. People who (bizarrely) hate Chris Ballard will talk about how injury prone Campbell has been. Unfortunately, this low hit while a receiver was planting his foot likely would have resulted in a knee injury for anyone it happened to.

In the moment it seemed like it might be an ACL injury. Hopefully it’s just a sprain and not a complete tear. Prior to this Campbell looked like he was set to break out, showing off his speed and the teams desire to involve him in the game plan. No matter what, I think we all hope he has a speedy recovery.

After Campbell’s injury, it was full steam ahead

Jonathan Taylor ran early, often and hard today. He didn’t have a chance to break off a long run, but the opportunity will come. The Vikings front seven simply didn’t have an answer for the Colts offensive line in this one.

They just kept doing it

As the game went on the Vikings knew it was coming. They tried stacking the box to no avail. The Colts were dominate up front.


Second Quarter

The first play of quarter number two

I can already hear the Twitter trolls cracking their knuckles and rolling up their sleeves; “Yeah but he threw an interception today” -they’ll type. Mo Alie-Cox should get credit for this interception but the box score will lay it solely at Philip Rivers’ feet.

All’s well that ends well but this is yet another redzone drive that failed to score six.

The Colts secondary came up big

Kenny Moore III was everywhere on the field today. This run also happened to be Dalvin Cook’s last rush attempt of the half.

The very next play

This was great coverage but you’ll see more of Kenny Moore soon.

Rookies came up big for our Colts

Michael Pittman Jr. was solid today, picking up multiple first down conversions. He finished with four receptions for 37 yards. Pittman Jr. wasn’t targeted on anything deep but he produced in the role he was given. Going forward, assuming Campbell will miss a lot of time, the rookie from USC should be included far more in the game plan.

Taylor’s first touchdown as a Colt

Jonathan Taylor had a long list of firsts today and I suspect we’ll see a lot of firsts from the Wisconsin product for the rest of the season.

This looked like a completely different defense

Darius Leonard made several nice plays and nearly had an interception of his own. He missed a tackle late going for a strip rather than wrapping up. It’s tough to fault the effort as a fumble recovery would have ended the game at that point and the score was well out of the Vikings reach.

More rookies!

Julian Blackmon came up to make this stop, rising up when the back tried to hurdle the young safety. This is also why coaches in peewee football told you never to leave your feet.

Philip Rivers arm looks good to me

T.Y. Hilton started this one out poorly. He was nowhere to be found until this deep drop. It’s easy to overreact during a game but after this drop I was getting concerned.

The defense comes up big again

Following week one I was surprised at how many Colts fans were voicing concerns over the addition of, and investment in, DeForest Buckner. I was surprised but my expectations for sports fans on the internet are evidently entirely too high. Buckner had a good day gaining 1.5 sacks, 4 QB hits and 4 total tackles.

Blackmon coming up big, again

If you see this clip and think “Gee, I’d sure like to see another Julian Blackmon highlight!” have no fear, it’s coming.

Leonard with the diving deflection

If I didn’t know better I’d think Kirk Cousins was trying to throw a pick, because:

Then this happened

This play happened pretty fast so I’ll give you some help. Julian Blackmon jumps in front of this pass, deflects it in the air where Khari Willis snags the ball out of the air and returns it 43 yards to set up a field goal before the half.

Please allow me to gloat

This week when I wrote my scouting report I posted a link to it over on the Vikings Sub Reddit. If you’ve never used Reddit, that’s fine, just know it’s basically a directory of message boards that cover any conceivable interest a person could have. I posted my article asking for feedback. Here’s some of the feedback I received:

This was all in all a really nice comment and I asked for feedback, so that’s fine. Next I described my process and said it was possible that my limited film watching wasn’t the same as watching every game the way Vikings fans do. Here are more replies:

I’m not posting these to drag these Vikings fans through the mud... well I’m not posting them only to drag them.

This is what happens when you watch the games on Sunday, you form a bias and then read on Wednesday a bunch of stats that confirm what you already believed. The issue is, when someone like me comes in (who despite the rumors, can evaluate talent and film) I have very little bias. I simply watch the film and take notes on what I see.

Kirk Cousins was bailed out a lot on deep throws by his receivers in the games I watched. He had accurate balls, sure, but far more often than not his deep completions were due to great receiver play, rather than even average placement. Stats, even advanced stats, can’t show placement objectively.

I understand most fans don’t have the time or desire to watch the amount of film I watch, or read articles about passing and coverage concepts. I know I’m... unique, in that way. But when someone comes along who knows what they’re talking about but it doesn’t fit what you believe, maybe don’t question his ability to evaluate tape or talent, else your quarterback might go 11-26 with 113 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

“Most accurate thrower in the league”

Right.

Interception number two

I won’t give Cousins a hard time about this one but it still counts for our Colts.


Third Quarter

Redeeming himself

Mo Alie-Cox ended up having a fantastic day. I didn’t believe the tight ends would have much of an impact given the Vikings talent at linebacker, specifically their ability in coverage. Part of the Vikings issue came when they lost Anthony Barr early to a shoulder injury. His injury paved the way for Cox’s career day.

The line has been solid

Philip Rivers has taken two total sacks in his first two games as a Colt. Being an offensive lineman really sucks sometimes. You can play great all day, you’re late getting out of your stance one time and a really good speed rusher beats you and all the fans remember from you is the time you let the QB get smoked.

I guess that’s life.

Another inaccurate pass

Kenny Moore III again. Once again this throw was inaccurate, last year this ball might have been thrown to Stefon Diggs who probably would have made this grab.

Nice run defense here

Denico Autry has had a good start to his season. I haven’t reviewed him extensively but the times I have noticed him he has done a good job on the back side of runs not allowing big cutbacks.

Sack number two

Tyquan Lewis hasn’t had the career many thought he would have after the Colts selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. On this down he used his hands and athleticism well to beat the guard and get the hit on Cousins.

One thing that is interesting to note is that DeForest Buckner is lined up inside as a 1-tech. Buckner draws attention from both the left guard and tackle and creates a one on one situation for Lewis on the other side of the time.

Taylor is an exciting prospect

Coming from Wisconsin, having had the success Taylor had, it’s not exactly surprising he is already adept at running through traffic, finding creases and getting what he can out of small opportunities. It’s just nice to see a Colts back this talented already have this level of polish.


Fourth Quarter

What. A. Grab.

I don’t have much to say about this play. Just watch it. It’s amazing.

Touchdown, Colts

Rivers completes his second passing touchdown as a Colt and it went to Zach Pascal. Sure, there were 14 minutes left but at this point this game was over.

Buckner again

He’s tough to block one on one.

At this point I’m just being petty

I’m sure my evaluation was wrong. I’m sure it was Kirk and not his receivers. Right.

Taylor’s first 100 yard day

Jonathan Taylor rushed for 101 yards on 26 carries. He was asked to pick up a few short yardage situations and the Vikings ultimately did a decent job tackling him at the second level. A question did come up during the game, it appeared that at least once Taylor ran at a defender, towards contact rather than towards open field. It was tough to see with the TV angle but it’s at least something to keep an eye on going forward.

Kickers are people, too

Rodrigo Blankenship went 4 for 4 including this 44 yarder. It’s nice to have a boring kicker again.

I really want to see more of this

Buckner and Justin Houston are both good at what they do and I have to believe this won’t be the last time these two guys meet at the quarterback.

Cook scores late

Cook manages to save his fantasy team this week by scoring in garbage time.

Backup running backs are always popular

Jordan Wilkins had a really good day. He’s a smooth runner with good vision. I hope we continue to see Wilkins worked in to spell Taylor. He could be a very good change of pace back in this offense.

Ballgame

Win number one is in the books.


Final Thoughts

While the Colts were physically dominant on both sides of the ball, they aren’t converting well inside the redzone. Frank Reich and Nick Siriani always seem to draw up great plays for third down and historically near the goal line as well. We’ll see how they adjust as the season goes on, but it’s good to know the Colts can leave two or three touchdowns on the board and still win by multiple scores.

Enjoy this one Colts fans, get ready for the New York Jets next week.