After a pretty positive experience from the Indianapolis Colts’ inexperienced backup quarterbacks, the polar opposite occurred in Minnesota on Saturday. What stood out most from the Colts’ 12-10 win over the Vikings? Below, a new series that will come after every Colts game: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. I will look into how a player or area of the game looked, then categorize it in a positive or negative manner.
Without further ado, let’s dive into Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down — preseason edition!
Thumbs Up: Kwity Paye
There’s no way I wasn’t going to start this with anything else. Kwity Paye logged a sack in his NFL debut, and it was a fantastic rep.
Paye beat his man off the line of scrimmage within one second with an explosive first step, then ripped right past him deriving right into Kirk Cousins’ blindside. It resulted in an amazing moment from Paye, and it showcased exactly why the Colts drafted him No. 21 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Paye also flashed on a few other plays with great bend off the edge. The rookie pass rusher from Michigan showed off his tantalizing tools within a quarter of action. That’s such an exiting possibility when you pair him alongside DeForest Buckner for 90% of the snaps during the regular season.
Thumbs Down: Sam Ehlinger
This was such an important game for Sam Ehlinger to gain some ground in the Colts’ quarterback battle with Jacob Eason. However, in the end, he may have lost any momentum he was trying to create.
Ehlinger’s lack of height was on full display when he threw his two interceptions. One seemed to be tipped at the line of scrimmage as the pocket collapsed around him, which resulted in a pick-6 for Vikings’ linebacker Troy Dye. On the other interception, Ehlinger rifled one into a window that was seemingly impossible to thread for Ashton Dulin, bouncing off him for another easy interception.
Ehlinger finished 8-of-13 for 70 yards and two interceptions in a quarter and a half of work.
Thumbs Up: Ben Banogu
Although it wasn’t a gaudy box scour outing for Banogu, he wrecked havoc during his snaps. On almost every play, Banogu was being a disruptor in the backfield with a nonstop motor.
If Banogu takes a Year 3 leap similar to what Tyquan Lewis did last season, Indianapolis adds another speedy pass rusher they can utilize in certain situations. If that’s the case, the Colts’ EDGE position gets even stronger than anticipated heading into the regular season.
Thumbs Down: Sam Tevi
It’s reached the point where Tevi shouldn’t make the 53-man roster. After being permanently moved over to right tackle because he couldn’t hold up as a blindside protector, Tevi was routinely abused by the Vikings’ practice squad pass rushers in the second half.
Indianapolis would save over $2 million in cap space if they were to cut Tevi. At this rate, that seems like the smart option while rolling with Julien Davenport as their primary left tackle option behind Eric Fisher.
Thumbs Up: Rock Ya-Sin
Ya-Sin only played a few possessions, but he was very impactful in a small sample size. On two separate plays, Ya-Sin disrupted the timing between Cousins and his wideouts.
It’s imperative for Ya-Sin to take the necessary leap forward in his third season. On Saturday, he showed the potential of that occurring.
Moving forward, Ya-Sin will be someone to watch weekly to see if his improvements can help stabilize the only question within the Colts’ strong secondary.
Thumbs Down: Jacob Eason
It would've been nice to take Eason off the Thumbs Down list, but his horrific start couldn’t let me stomach it. Eason finished his two quarters of work following Ehlinger going 16-of-27 for 132 yards. In totality, that’s a well below-average 4.9 yards per attempt.
Eason really needs to hone in on his change of speed when throwing the football around the line of scrimmage. Far too often in this one did Eason throw it seemingly 100 miles per hour from point-blank range. It’s the main bugaboo that’s bothered Eason throughout his college and pro career. If Eason can improve on that, he’s a legit backup in the NFL.
Eason’s second ever game with the Colts was a rollercoaster ride, that’s for sure. I’ll be very interested to see how he bounces back in the final preseason game, and whether he gets the starting reps over Ehlinger.