One week ago today, Indianapolis Colts fans endured one of, if not the worst, games in the history of Thursday Night Football. Somehow, in a game that no one seemed to want to win, the Colts came out on top, winning 12-9 against the Denver Broncos. A total of zero touchdowns were scored, which seems fitting given the Colts' week six opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The last time these two teams played in week two, the Colts could not score. Let’s take a look at what we should be watching for this week.
- Can the Colts' Offense Get on Track
For the third week in this article, we’re talking about this, and we’ll talk about it until the Indy offense gets on track. The offense remains one big mess made up of smaller messes, and the biggest little mess is the offensive line.
Imagine you’re in a child’s bedroom. It’s a disaster. There are toys and presumably dirty clothes everywhere, you can’t see the floor, and you keep stepping on Legos. You’re pretty sure there’s a hamper under a pile of stuffed animals and a toybox in the corner that is almost completely empty, given the state of the room. The only problem is this disaster of a child has stacked everything that didn’t fit on the floor on top of the toybox.
Now imagine that room is the 2022 Indianapolis Colts offense. The offensive line is the toybox. There are problems everywhere, but if you can get to the toybox and get it cleared off, you can start to fill it. Once you’ve started that process, you’ll be able to see the Legos (Matt Ryan’s fumbling), and that problem pretty much fixes itself. Finally, you get the pile of stuffed animals off of the hamper and you fill it with the dirty laundry (Frank Reich’s play calling).
It’s really easy to just blame Frank Reich for the offense’s woes, but the fact is, even when he puts together a long drive, more often than not this season, it’s ended with a sack, a sack-fumble, or a lack of execution that has stemmed from the offensive line. Frank Reich can call whatever plays you like, and Matt Ryan could never fumble again, but if the offensive line isn’t opening holes on the ground, Matt Ryan is getting blasted in the pocket. It doesn’t matter if it’s Frank Reich, you, me, or the thousands of Colts fans on Twitter who are sure their Madden Super Bowl wins make them play-calling experts calling the plays. The plays aren’t going to work.
Once the line is squared away, and Matt Ryan is getting hit less, logic dictates he’ll fumble less, and finally, Frank Reich will be able to figure out how to use the pieces he has on offense. Until the line is fixed, I’ll be back here every week telling you to watch to see if the offense can finally get on track.
- How Will The Colts Respond to 24-0?
It’s embarrassing to lose by 24 points at any level of football. It’s embarrassing and rare to lose by 24 points in the NFL and even more embarrassing and rare to get shut out by a team that had the number-one overall pick in last year's draft.
So how are the Colts going to respond to that? Will they bow down, or will they come out with their hair on fire and try to make up for what happened four weeks ago?
- How Will the Jags Respond After a Bad Loss?
In week five, the Jags hosted the Houston Texans, and despite the Texans being terrible, they left Florida with a 13-6 victory. Their first win of the 2022 season.
If the Jags lose this game, it will mean back-to-back losses to seemingly beatable divisional opponents. No one wants that. If you listen to NFL players, they will never admit to something like this entering their thought process. Still, the reality is the Jags (as well as the Colts) season is hanging on by a thread, and this game could be the catalyst for a losing streak that spirals and practically puts them out of playoff contention before their bye.
- How Will Indy Replace Kwity Paye?
If you hadn’t noticed, Kwity Paye was well on his way to having a breakout season. The second-year, former first-round defensive end out of Michigan logged three sacks, five tackles for loss, and five QB hits in four and a half games before suffering a high ankle sprain on Thursday Night Football.
From where I sit, it looks like a tall order to fill the gap in production Paye’s absence creates. That’s not to say the defense won’t try. I expect a healthy rotation of Dayo Odeyingbo and Tyquan Lewis. We might even notice a heavier dose of Ben Banogu, and while I hope we don’t see it, there’s always a chance Ifeadi Odenigbo sees plenty of time on the field on Sunday.*
It will be interesting to see how this group does now that Paye is on the shelf.
* It wasn’t until I typed this paragraph that I realized Tyquan Lewis has the most boring name of all Colts defensive ends.
- Will Doug Pederson Outcoach Frank Reich, Again?
I don’t need to tell anyone how these two men are linked. We all know they are. And we also know that Reich got his coaching butt kicked in week two by his former boss, Doug Pederson.
From the outside, it sure seemed like Pederson knew every step Frank Reich was going to take and had set up booby traps like the week two game was The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Reich was the guy who tried to get past the trap right before Indiana Jones:
Pederson knew Reich would go straight into the light.
So how will Reich respond? Will he bounce back? Will Pederson be able to anticipate his every move? Will Frank Reich play Indiana Jones this week? Hopefully, no one’s face melts off.
- Final Thoughts
No matter what happens, we only have 13 more regular season weekends to watch NFL football this year. Even if the Colts stink again, just remember how awful the offseason is.