How the hell do you evaluate Carson Wentz? He’s been amazing at times, but he’s also been horrendous. Overall, he has a 100.1 passer rating and a 17:3 TD to INT ratio with a 63.33% completion percentage with a below average receiving corps. Based on those numbers alone, you’d think he’s a top 10 quarterback, but that’s not the case. In his two games against the Tennessee Titans, he went 46/88 (52.3%) for 425 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (67.66 passer rating) and lost both crucial divisional games. Wentz deserves leniency for his first performance since he was playing with two hurt ankles, but the second performance was atrocious with two of the worst interceptions you’ll ever see. He also had decision making errors in the 49ers games.
So while Wentz has had some bright spots like against the Ravens and Jets, the low points against the Titans is what seriously hurts his grade. At the end of the day, the Colts are 4-5 and should have a winning record and the main reason they don’t have a winning record is because of Wentz, which is why his grade is a C+.
Jonathan Taylor is a star. Over the last 6 weeks, he has been the best running back in football on paper and based on the eye-test. He is explosive, hard to tackle and his only issue is he doesn’t get the ball enough. Nyheim Hines and had his moments, but he hasn’t been deserving of that big contract... yet. He played very well against the Jets in the Colts’ last game, and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come and not an outlier.
Overall, Taylor is an A+, but Hines is somewhere in the Bs or Cs so that’s why the running back group gets an A.
While Michael Pittman Jr has established himself as a star-in-the-making and a future #1 receiver for the Colts, the rest of the receiving group has been underwhelming. Mo Alie-Cox is having a bit of a breakout season and Jack Doyle has been reliable so they prop up the tight end part of this category.
As for the receivers other than Pittman, Pascal and Campbell are the next leading receivers and Campbell has missed 4 games. Pascal is a reliable backup who can jump into the action whenever and with Campbell hurt and Hilton missing most games, the Colts have Dulin and Patmon getting reps. They are very thin at receiver and have almost no options outside of Pittman. Pittman and Mo Alie-Cox keep this group out of the Cs.
The offensive line had a rough start. Eric Fisher couldn’t pass protect if his life depended on it for his first 5-6 starts. Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith missed some time which hurt the group, but the group has been very strong the last few weeks and it has led to their best offensive performances of the season. The disasters in the early portion of the season will keep this group of the A’s, but by season’s end they could end up being an A- or A if they continue trending into this direction.
While the group has been great against the run, they are in the bottom 1⁄3 of the NFL in most pass rushing measures and while that’s partly based on coaching, it’s also on the players. DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart have been great, as expected. While I would argue Buckner should be a little more impactful given his contract, he hasn’t done anything that’s worth complaining about. Kwity Paye is looking like a beast and then after those three guys it’s a revolving door of mediocre players who can occasionally get hot. This group is very good, but not great and the grade reflect that.
Darius Leonard is the best linebacker in the NFL, as I wrote about a few weeks ago. He has taken his game to another level this season and is the backbone of the defense. Bobby Okereke has been up and down, with his down moments being pretty bad. He compliments Leonard well but he needs to be more consistent and reduce the number of missed tackles. Zaire Franklin and EJ Speed are the current backups (Colts mostly play nickel), with Speed being the better of the two. Without Leonard this would be a D or C group, but his special talent brings this up two grade levels.
The secondary is brutal and weak. If it weren’t for Kenny Moore, this group would be a flat-out F. Moore is fantastic and I don’t want to take away from what he does for the secondary. He can play anywhere and creates plays each game. Other than him, it’s rough. Blackmon went down for the season and Willis just went down, so there’s been a lot of backups in the secondary. The Colts have had to field the likes of Isaiah Rodgers, Andrew Sendejo and George Odum, all top tier special teamers but below average backups. The average of the quarterback ratings is well into the 100s and while they’ve played Stafford and Wilson, they’ve also played Josh Johnson and Davis Webb. This group needs to get healthy and improve otherwise it will be the downfall of this team.
Rigoberto is having himself a very good season... again. The Colts’ special teams units rank 18th in DVOA and it makes sense as the Colts have a middle-of-the-pack type of unit based on the eye test. They don’t pop or stand out like Baltimore, Kansas City or Chicago.
Michael Badgley has done a very good job taking over for Rodrigo Blankenship and might be the answer for kicker, at least for this season. Blankenship had a rough start to the season and had an awful outing against the Ravens, and was a big reason why the Colts lost. Overall, this is an average group from top to bottom and the grade reflects that.
Frank Reich’s inability to close games has hurt the Colts this year. The Ravens and 2nd Titans games were abominations to coaching with poor play calling, poor clock management and underutilizing Jonathan Taylor. Reich has done extremely well in the easy games against the Jets and Texans.
Matt Eberflus has adopted a “stop the run first” approach and the front 7 has done a great job this year. Their pressure rates are low, but they’ve been great against the run. However, the secondary has been very weak, even against inferior competition and it’s due in part to poor coverage calls and the lack of disguise.
The Colts are 4-5 when they should be 5-4 or even 6-3 and that’s due, in part, to some poor coaching in big moments.