I think what we saw last night is that they know what's happening, but just had the wrong answer to fix it.
From re-watching the all 22 on basically all the games at this point, the one big takeaway is that Pinter, Pryor, (and Kelly to an extent) have been the main problems.
The frustrating thing about it, is that this all is 100% Ballard's fault for not doing more in the offseason.
The core issue that Matt has been having (and hasn't really dealt with before), is that his pocket routinely collapses from the inside out.
This is the worst kind of pressure to get for a QB because you can't step up in the pocket. Your tackles end up looking terrible, because you sit further back in the pocket, so instead of the rush washing by, it runs directly into you.
THEN, you couple that in with Pryor who is not fast enough to play tackle. (There's a reason why he was a guard for so long). At this point he's basically "Reverse Danny Pinter": While he can handle bull rushes, he ABSOLUTELY CANNOT handle any kind of quick twitch speed rushes. Defenses have keyed on this, so they exploit it all the time. They quite literally just run around him.
So why do I say that this is Ballard's fault? Because he knew those were two key areas of need, and he decided to cheapen out anyway. He gave us a guard that's not strong enough to play guard, and a tackle thats not athletic enough to play tackle.
The most egregious of all of this is that he could've prevented all this with a relatively forgettable signing. By simply not letting Chris Reed walk for barely under $1.5 million per year, he could have secured the interior of the offensive line, eliminated the Danny Pinter issue, and left the team with only one problem spot to support on the offensive line (LT).
While I'm fine with the growing pains you'll have with Raimann as a rookie, the fact that he did literally nothing at the guard spot, and just expected everything else to be fine is alarming.
So what was the fix?
The Colts decided that the interior rush was so critical, they pulled in all their money players to the inside with Nelson, Kelly, and Smith. In theory, this makes sense, but in practice, it was a disaster.
While Braden was fine in both the Guard and Tackle spots, moving Pryor from LT to RT on a short week exposed the offense even more.
His footwork was terrible, his ability to handle stunts and communicate was terrible, and he showed, for the world to see, that he was entirely too slow to play tackle in the NFL.
If the NFL had a dictionary for turnstile, the picture would be Pryor frozen in space, as a defensive end flat out runs around him.
How do the Colts improve from here?
- The first thing the Colts need to do is to quit playing Pryor at tackle. Put him BACK at RG, or bench him.
- Move Braden Smith back to RT.
- Take a look at Kelly. Something with him isn't right, and hasn't been right since the beginning of the season. While Pinter was part of the interior rush problem, Kelly was the other part. I'd suggest they sign a vet just in case.
- They need to include the TEs in blocking more. While they may run a play here or there before, it needs to become a core staple of this offense until Raimann grows into his role.
- Run stunts everyday in practice for the next week. Over and over again until the O-Line figures out how to block them.
- Use the tape they've put out against defenses. Take advantage of the stunts and blitzes they all now run. Misdirection and counter plays, wham blocks against the stunting defender. These are all things that can help with slowing down the pass rush.
- Get a hardcore "lunch pail" blocking TE or FB. Mo, Woods, and Granson all block like WRs. You need someone that will lay people out. Sell out for every block. That's what you've been missing since Doyle.
While it won't be perfect, I think it can be manageable. Focus on a quick passing game to extend the running game, and protect Ryan, and you'll start to slow down the pass rush.