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Knee-jerk reactions: Colts survive putrid offensive second half to beat Jags 23-17

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Well.... the Colts made it back to .500 on the season.

Jonathan Taylor was dominant in the first half, doing everything he wanted, helping the Colts jump out to a lead they would never surrender. A blocked punt that was returned for a special teams touchdown was also an important play.

After the first quarter, things got sloppy.

Taylor disappeared as a focal point for the offense. Michael Pittman Jr. wasn’t heavily featured either. The playcalling was incredibly frustrating. Slow developing plays, primarily of the screen and outside zone run variety, were easily bottled up by the Jaguars defense. The Colts' defense started to cede longer drives and struggled to get off of the field.

If there’s anything that has been consistent with this Colts team to date, if the team has established an identity, it is one of inconsistency. This team is inconsistent in performance, incapable of maintaining momentum, and the game plans have been all over the place.

FRANK REICH

There have been far too many times this season where Frank Reich has looked like one of the best offensive minds in the NFL, and one of the worst all in the same game.

Fans have been pleading with the coaching staff to run the ball. Taylor is the best player on the team. He is one of the biggest weapons in the NFL. When he was heavily involved and the Colts were utilizing their dominant offensive line, particularly on the interior, this game looked like a pending blowout.

Once the inside zones and smashmouth run game became a footnote. The offense stalled. Drives stopped. After over 200 offensive yards in the first half, the Colts had under 40 well into the fourth quarter. You’d think the coaching staff would notice, but instead, they call a screen pass that was telegraphed, followed that with a run that the Jaguars were all over, and closed out the possession with another screen pass that lost yards.

For a guy who likes to fancy himself aggressive, Reich isn’t.


INJURIES WILL HOLD THIS TEAM BACK

Against solid opponents, the Colts’ rash of injuries will absolutely come into play. Julian Blackmon was a dominant player on the back end and is a huge loss. Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner are the most important defensive players in Indianapolis. Leonard aggravated the ankle injury that has been nagging him all year long. Buckner missed practices leading up to the game. Xavier Rhodes has been hurt all year and has clearly been impacted by his health all season long.

Fans love saying that injuries aren’t an excuse and that every team deals with them. They love saying that Chris Ballard is supposed to have depth at the third and fourth string levels that allow the Colts to continue winning games. The reality is that elite NFL players and most NFL starters are clearly better than those who back them up.


CARSON WENTZ SHAKY

If there is a poster boy for inconsistency, it’s Carson Wentz. Incredibly, Wentz has had a relatively strong statistical season. If he wanted to resurrect his career in Indianapolis, early signs indicate that is a legitimate possibility. However, Wentz is sloppy with his footwork and his throwing motion. He makes horrifying decisions in his attempts to extend plays and appears entirely incapable of learning from them. Left-handed passes, backhanded tosses, desperation moments that will absolutely hurt the Colts more often than help define his quarterback DNA.