It’s no secret that the most disappointing unit for the Indianapolis Colts this season is the offensive line. Most people in the Colts community feel like the offensive line is responsible for Matt Ryan getting benched, Marcus Brady being fired, and also the end of the Frank Reich era. The offensive line was supposed to rely heavily on three individuals to do the heavy lifting (Ryan, Nelson, Smith), and to get by at the other two positions. What they didn’t expect was for there to be a regression from those three guys, and it has caused the offense to suffer as a whole. The Colts are among the league leaders in sacks allowed and now have a Monday Night date with one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, TJ Watt.
Reigning Defensive Player of the year TJ Watt, who missed the majority of the season with a torn pectoral, returned a couple of weeks ago. While he didn’t record a sack in his first game back against the Saints, it didn’t take him long to make his presence felt by recording multiple pressures on Andy Dalton. In his second game back against the Bengals, he was credited with a half-sack and an interception. Brian Baldinger does a great job here explaining the effect that TJ Watt can have on a game without recording a sack.
.@Steelers @_TJWatt what a difference this Steeler defense looks like with Watt back in the lineup. No one else in this league plays like this. Makes everyone else better. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/tGI9dnbbM5— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 15, 2022
His ability to win one on one multiple ways, whether using speed or power, is very difficult to deal with. When he’s not getting sacks, tackles for losses, or batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, he’s actually intercepting them. The pick he caught last week against Joe Burrow was one of the most amazing plays of the season.
The Colts have struggled to deal with pressure coming off the edge all season. Earlier in the year, it was Matt Pryor who couldn’t lay a finger on speed rushers.
Bradley Chubb vs. Matt Pryor pic.twitter.com/DlEPb3yf3o— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) October 7, 2022
Now, it’s Bernhard Raimann who is struggling to deal with power rushers (see the last drive of Eagles game). The Colts are going to have to make it a priority to help out both tackles. They can do this by getting a RB/TE to chip him before they release. The Colts can also use a quick passing attack to mitigate his effect. TJ Watt isn’t the only one the Colts have to concern themselves with as Cameron Heyward is also playing at a high level this late in his career. This is most certainly a winnable game for the Colts, but it all starts with protecting Matt Ryan, and TJ Watt will try to make that as difficult as possible.