As we did throughout there preseason here on Stampede Blue, it’s time for our first regular season edition of Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down. It sure was an ugly 28-16 loss for the Colts in the 2021-22 season opener, dropping their eighth straight to begin a new season.
What stood out, the good and the bad? We’ll cover the bases here, so let’s dive right into it!
Thumbs Up: Carson Wentz
With all that went wrong around Wentz in his first game as the Colts’ starting quarterback, he definitely still produced given the circumstances. No consistent protection, running game, or wideouts separating was a worst-case scenario for Wentz to encounter. Even still, he produced putting together 251 yards and two touchdowns.
If Wentz would’ve been protected, this game may have gone entirely different. The first drive of the game was dominance from the Colts’ offense, then poof it all disappeared. Thanks in large part to a lack of establishment from the ones protecting Wentz, it overshadowed a very solid debut from the former Eagles signal-caller.
Thumbs Down: Offensive Line
What in the world was that? Outside of Quenton Nelson, everyone else on the Colts’ offensive line was pummeled by a pedestrian Seahawks defensive line. Julien Davenport allowed 8 pressures and 2 sacks. Braden Smith allowed 5 pressures and 1 sack. Meanwhile, Ryan Kelly and Mark Glowinski had leakage consistently in the second half on one-on-one matchups.
Simply put, it was the worst we’ve ever seen the Colts play up front since 2017. And if this somehow continues from the Colts’ foundational unit, Wentz will not last a full 17-game regular season. It’s inexcusable what happened on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Mike Strachan
It’s time to take notice of the Colts’ 7th-round gem. Strachan only produced two receptions, but they both came on critical third-down situations. It’s obvious the trust is already there with Wentz. Also, Strachan produced the highest PFF grade for any Colts playmaker.
Strachan played around a quarter of the Colts’ snaps, and it should only continue to rise. GM Chris Ballard mentioned before the regular season that Strachan would be utilized in a limited role, and then continuously increase if he produced in those reps.
Well, Strachan aced his first test. It’s time to see next Sunday and beyond if Strachan could actually be a long-term weapon to prioritize within the Colts’ offense.
Thumbs Down: Secondary
Russell Wilson diced up the Colts to the tune of four touchdowns and only five incompletions. In a heavy zone defense, these performances will happen. However, it was simply ugly all-around. Khari Willis was cooked to a crisp by Tyler Lockett on a deep shot. Julian Blackmon was very inconsistent. T.J. Carrie and Kenny Moore even had there lows.
Indianapolis is betting so much on the front four to be dominant. Especially without Xavier Rhodes, Indy’s defensive backfield was in huge trouble against Seattle.
This could quickly become the Colts’ most inconsistent unit throughout the season if they can’t snap out of their funk quickly.
Thumbs Up: Nyheim Hines’ usage
After awarding Nyheim Hines with a three-year, $18.6 million extension, the Colts’ scatback looks primed for a lot more touches within the offense this season. Hines received 15 touches on Sunday (9 carries, 6 receptions) and averaged 5.5 yards. When Hines was on the field, he received a touch around 45% of the time.
In terms of split usage between Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, the snap rate was 55-45 in favor of Taylor. This looks like a true 1-2 punch. Hines looks in line to take the biggest usage leap in 2021-22.
Thumbs Down: Frank Reich’s decision-making
I can hear out the side where Reich was right to go for it, however why not take the points? If the Colts simply would have kicked field goals, this game would’ve been 21-16 in the final half of the fourth quarter. Anything can happen in a one-possession game in the NFL.
I was not a fan of the QB sneak from Wentz on 4th-and-1, plus a slow-developing play on 4th-and-3 when the offensive line had been getting pummeled consistently.
The offense was rather vanilla after the first drive, but the lack of dominance from the offensive line could be the easy explanation.