For the eighth year in a row, the Indianapolis Colts have started their season with a loss. The Seattle Seahawks are a reasonably formidable opponent, with good to great skill position players and one of the NFL’s top-tier quarterbacks in Russell Wilson. It is also a team with weaknesses and one that has struggled to re-establish a defensive identity since the days of the Legion of Boom.
The Colts were unable to exploit those weaknesses consistently enough to come out on top and will have to regroup after a falling 28-16.
OFFENSIVE LINE STRUGGLES
Colts fans had better hope that the offensive line’s struggles this afternoon are not a sign of things to come. While it was reasonable to expect that Julien Davenport would potentially need some help, no one would have predicted that Braden Smith would allow regular pressure and at least one sack.
Seattle is stout on the defensive interior but it took the Colts a long time to get much of anything going on the ground and Jonathan Taylor wasn’t much of a factor until late in the game. he and Nyheim Hines combined for just over 3.5 yards per carry.
Oh yeah, veteran center Ryan Kelly and Carson Wentz had a bad exchange on a 4th-and-1 attempt to keep a drive going that resulted in a fumble and turnover. This happened after Darius Leonard made an incredible play to force a fumble and finally give the Colts desirable field position. A chance to close the gap turned into a swing of the momentum back to the Seahawks who had excellent field position themselves.
WIDE RECEIVERS WERE QUIET
If you read Chris Shepherd’s scouting report coming into this game, you’d have learned that the Seahawks have a relatively weak secondary. This is a game where you would have hoped to see glimpses of a future led by Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell.
Instead, Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hinestied each had six receptions (12 total), they were targeted seven and eight times respectively (15 total), and they accumulated 108 receiving yards. Pittman, Campbell, Zach Pascal, and Mike Strachan combined for 10 receptions on 14 targets for 122 yards. When you consider that receivers are often targeted further downfield than running backs, that’s an ugly day.
By comparison, Lockett and Metcalf each caught four passes on five targets and had a combined 160 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
DEFENSE COMES OUT FLAT
Safety Khari Willis took an absolute beating in the first half. He was targeted frequently and gave up multiple big plays, including more than one touchdown.
The dynamic linebacker duo of Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke wasn’t much of a factor and Seattle didn’t have a difficult time moving the ball on the ground. It appeared that Matt Eberflus threw everything at keeping DK Metcalf from taking over the game and Russell Wilson was entirely content with beating up the Colts defense everywhere else.
Indianapolis finished second in the NFL against the run a season ago. Today, the defense gave up 91 yards on 17 carries to Chris Carson, good for a 5.7 yards per carry average.
Outside of a couple of good offensive series, there wasn’t much to get excited about from a playcalling perspective. The two-point conversion attempt was awful. It was a long-developing concept despite no signs from the offensive line that they would slow down the Seahawks pass rush. Add in that there was no reason for Seattle to do anything other than pin their ears back due to the separation on the scoreboard and you’re left scratching your head.
The Colts' offense failed to get a first down on four possessions and punted from deep in their own territory or from their own end zone on three of those possessions. The field position battle was heavily in Seattle’s favor for nearly the entire game.
Mike Strachan had an immediate impact on offense. Given that he was a late-round draft pick and fourth on the depth chart, it’s encouraging to see Marcus Brady and Carson Wentz are both confident enough to give him opportunities and that he managed to make the most of them.
Carson Wentz wasn’t spectacular but given the circumstances of how limited he has been in practice, the first game would have to be considered about as good as could be expected. He’ll need to get his receivers more involved and find ways to avoid pressure more consistently but expecting either of those two things to be excellent at this point would be unrealistic.
Zach Pascal had a great game and appeared to be the only receiver Wentz trusted to make a big play. He ran great routes, found ways to get open, and was reliable. If this game is an indication of what is to come, Pascal could very well be the top receiver in Colts uniform moving forward.
While Kwity Paye did not record his first NFL sack, he did create pressure on Russell Wilson often enough to generate some excitement about his prospects moving forward. Any rookie defensive end who draws veteran Duane Brown in his first game will face a pretty difficult task. Paye should be pleased with his effort today and have a great opportunity to learn from his tape.