Monday night’s loss to the Ravens is going to sit with the Indianapolis Colts for a long time not because they lost, but how they lost. A 22-3 3rd quarter lead evaporated in what felt like seconds for a team that had been playing about as well as anyone could’ve asked of them.
So, what exactly did we learn from the Colts’ gut-punching loss to Baltimore?
- Carson Wentz continues to progress each week:
The Colts’ quarterback set career-highs for passing yards with 402 and passer rating with a 128.5. While there were a few misses, Wentz was nothing short of exceptional against a very talented Ravens’ defense.
On the season, Wentz now has 7 touchdowns to only 1 interception, and he’s continuing to improve each week. Keep in mind that he’s done all of this without wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and down two of the teams best offensive lineman in guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Braden Smith. He hasn’t been perfect, but the Colts have to like what they’ve seen from Wentz five games into the 2021 season.
For a team who’s quarterback situation has been a revolving door since Andrew Luck’s retirement back in 2019, Wentz continues to show signs that he could be ‘the guy’ for this franchise moving forward.
- Secondary depth continues to haunt the team:
At one point in the game, the Colts had four backup players in the game as some of their starters, including cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Julian Blackmon, went out for a few plays due to injuries. The team was already down both Khari Willis and Rock Ya-Sin, so Indy’s secondary had been thin going into the game.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson, to his credit, took advantage of the inexperienced players in the Colts’ secondary and got the Ravens right back into the game in a matter of plays. Cornerback BoPete Keyes got torched by Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, which gave Baltimore the confidence they needed going into the 4th quarter.
Depth in certain areas has been an issue for this team for the last couple of seasons, and it was on full display for the rest of the NFL world to see Monday night. Not addressing the secondary depth during this past offseason, in part, cost the Colts this game.
- Pass rush non-existent when it mattered most:
We’ve been singing this same song for the last couple of seasons now. Indy’s defensive front sacked Lamar Jackson twice Monday night, but failed to show up when it mattered most. On two separate occasions, when Baltimore had 1st-and-goal from inside the Colts’ 5-yard line, Jackson had way too much time to throw which resulted in touchdowns in both instances due to the secondary night being able to hold up.
This has really been an issue for the team all season long, and it was partially why the Colts suffered yet another loss. Yes, Jackson is probably the toughest quarterback to get on the turf due to his elusiveness and pure speed, but even when Indy’s front four were putting pressure on the dynamic playmaker, they couldn’t get home on far too many occasions.
We’ve said it before: Pass rush and secondary play go hand-in-hand, and the Colts could’ve desperately used a big play from any of their young pass rushers, as it could’ve helped take some of the pressure off an inexperienced secondary.
As it currently stands, the Colts rank dead last in QB pressures with just 25, 31st in hurries with 8, and 28th in sacks with 10. For a team which has a ton of resources invested in their front four, these numbers are simply inexcusable.
Truth to be told: this team has a lot of issues right now. Injuries to key players; lack of playmaking from its young, defensive players; injuries along the offensive line, etc. But they currently sit at 1-4 and have no one to blame but themselves.
Simply put: The Colts need to figure out who they are and where they want to be, come January.