The Simple: Colts turned the ball over twice, did not force any turnovers
The Colts rank second to last in turnover differential this season, a big difference from the past few years and I would argue among the main reasons the team is struggling so much. Winning the turnover battle was a staple in Frank Reich led teams, but with a shoddy offensive line, and an oftentimes careless Matt Ryan, it has just simply not been the case this year. On the other hand, the Colts’ defense is performing well in all other areas but Gus Bradley led units do not particularly specialize in forcing turnovers as much as Matt Eberflus did. Missing defensive playmaker and leader Shaquille Leonard also most certainly hurt the defense in this aspect, as turnovers are a big psycological factor of football.
The Complicated: Alec Pierce blanked again, Ryan averaged just 5.85 YPA, yet another red-zone turnover.
After a six game stretch where Pierce caught 24 passes on 36 targets for 373 yards and a touchdown, the rookie has just four receptions for 51 yards over the past four games. Of course rookies are expected to struggle and the quarterback/head-coach carrousel did not do him any favours, but he should turn it around towards the end of the season and show why he was a second round pick.
Matt Ryan has averaged less than 7 yards per attempt on 70% of his games in a Colts’ uniform (7/10). That will simply not fly in today’s NFL where dynamic offenses that can move the ball up and down the field are king. Of course, not all of the blame goes to Ryan, as the offensive line and playmakers have not been particularly special, but the Colts are just too talented for it to be this level of bad.
The killer for the Colts on Monday was Jonathan Taylor’s redzone fumble, especially after being given a free set of downs after an offside flag on the field goal attempt. The Colts had the ball on the Steelers’ 1-yard line on first down before a dirty handoff knocked the ball out and Pittsbugh pounced on it. Great for a team that is tanking though.