Indianapolis secured its first victory of the season Sunday afternoon after defeating the Miami Dolphins 27-17. While there were certainly several bright spots, there’s also room for improvement in several areas, too.
This, like my other piece from today (linked here), is something you’ll see every week, too. So, let’s talk about the good, bad and ugly from Indy’s first win.
- Carson Wentz:
How can we not start by talking about Wentz’s performance Sunday? While he certainly didn’t play ‘lights out,’ Wentz looked much more comfortable and his played proved it, as he went 24-of-32 for 228 yards and tossed 2 touchdowns.
Now, Indy’s quarterback was far from perfect. Wentz missed a few pivotal throws which could’ve extended a few drives and potentially led to more points. On the flipside, though, Wentz also made some incredible plays, like the 3rd and 14 throw to Pittman late in the game where he sidestepped a Dolphin defender and delivered a strike to big-bodied wideout.
Without question, there’s room for improvement, but the Colts had to have liked what they saw from their quarterback Sunday afternoon.
- Jonathan Taylor:
Taylor was the ‘Robin’ to Wentz’s Batman Sunday, as he gashed the Dolphins for 103 total rushing yards, including a 23-yard touchdown to help spark an otherwise sluggish offense during the majority of the first half.
The homerun-hitter averaged 6.4 yards per carry and on multiple occasions showed the same explosiveness Indy saw during the back half of the 2020 season. Taylor had shown some similar flashes the week prior to Sunday’s game. but Indy strangely went away from their lead back.
Taylor’s game against the Dolphins, which happen to come on just 16 total carries, might I add, is the exact reason why the Colts should be giving the ball to number 28 every chance they get.
- Mo Alie-Cox:
More red zone targets for Alie-Cox, please! The former basketball player-turned tight end had 3 big time grabs for 42 total yards while also hauling in 2 touchdowns as well. Alie-Cox’s 6’7” frame makes him a matchup nightmare for almost any opposing safety or linebacker.
He may not posses the speed of a Travis Kelce or George Kittle, but number 81 was sensational and played such a significant role in Indianapolis’ victory.
- Pass Protection (in the first half):
While Indy’s pass protection wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t what we’re used to seeing from their offensive line, either. Julie’n Davenport continues to be a liability at either tackle position, which is partially why he was benched for Matt Pryor.
Wentz has taken some major hits over the first three weeks, and that didn’t change too much Sunday. The protection was much better in the second half, yes, but Eric Fisher, whom the team brought in to protect their quarterback’s blindside, also hasn’t played well during the past two games.
Miami’s pass rush certainly won’t wear you out, but it goes without saying that, despite dealing with injuries to two of their top offensive lineman in Braden Smith and Quenton Nelson, the Colts need to be better in pass protection as a unit as the season progresses.
- Defensive Breakdowns (towards the end of the game):
Listen, I’m not going to sit here and rip the Colts’ defense. They had their best performance of the season so far. That being said, this defense still struggles with assignments at times. Given how they had been playing, especially in the second half, Indy should’ve found a way to put the game away towards the end.
With 5 minutes and some change left, Jacoby Brissett, who had been running for his life for the entirety of the game, managed to lead the Dolphins down on a fairly quick scoring drive and cut the Indy’s lead to just 10. The Colts have to be able to find ways to put the opposing team away.
- Secondary struggles:
Again, not going to kill the Colts here, but Xavier Rhodes wasn’t great against DeVante Parker, giving up 77 yards on 4 receptions and a touchdown. Tight end Mike Gesicki managed to get in on the action, too, catching five passes for 57 yards, including a key touchdown on 4th-and-goal to keep the Dolphins in the ballgame.
Yes, the Colts were without safety Khari Willis, but there’s no excuse for giving up multiple chunk plays that so into the game. It’s certainly not excusable for a defense which prides itself on containing those same sorts of plays. Simply, Indianapolis’ secondary must be better in key situations and as a unit.