Frank Reich Hot Seat Meter: 25% (There are still questions, but it is considerably cooler)
Gus Bradley’s gameplan against Mahomes
After a slow start, the Colts’ defense finally came along and put together a masterclass against the Chiefs. Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 14 pressures, while depth player Ifeadi Odenigbo contributed with 3 pressures on just 6 pass rushing snaps, which is crazy effectiveness. Holding Patrick Mahomes to 262 yards on 35 passing attempts, just a single touchdown, and his first interception of the season is an unbelievable performance from a defense that looked soft as Charmin against the Jaguars last week. Kudos to Bradley for having the defense ready to play, and it speaks well of him that depth players like Odenigbo, Rodney Thomas, and Rodney McLeod were able to perform so well after injuries forced them into action.
Use of Jelani Woods in the red-zone
The Colts were struggling a lot in the redzone to kick off the season, going just 2-7 in their first two games of the year, so things needed to change. Reich used rookie tight end Jelani Woods more in the redzone, and he caught two touchdowns, including the game-winning score with just 24 seconds remaining. Woods is massive, standing 6’7’’, so using that big frame when the Colts’ offense needs just a few yards to score is essential for maintaining this level of success.
Use of Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce in the passing game
The Colts’ offense desperately missed their top two wideouts last week against the Jaguars, and they both came back in a big way in a must-win matchup. MPJ caught 8 of 9 targets for 72 yards, while Pierce got 3 of 5 for 61 yards. It was especially encouraging watching the rookie Pierce show flashes of what the Colts liked so much of him.
Development of Kylen Granson as a special teams player
The special teams unit as a whole deserves a ton of credit for the way they have been playing this season. The punting unit has not missed a beat even after losing a punter of the caliber of Rigoberto Sanchez. Chase McLoughlin filled in perfectly for the departed Rodrigo Blankenship, making all 4 of his kicks, with one from over 50 yards. Special kudos to the development of Kylen Granson as a special teams ace, as the tight end recovered the early fumble and then downed a punt at the one-yard line.
Still not solving communication issues on the line, not giving Pinter help
The offensive line struggles continue, as Matt Ryan faced free rushes just way too many times. The Chiefs finished the game with 5 sacks, and the play by the highest-paid unit in the NFL is simply inexcusable. Danny Pinter is just clearly not the answer at right guard, and the Colts have to be missing both Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed, but that is not Frank Reich’s fault (at least not entirely). What is Frank’s fault is failing to identify this clear issue and making the proper adjustments to fix it.
If you take away the touchdown drive from KC’s 4-yard line after the muffed punt, the Colts had 9 drives and only 18 first downs. There were two missed 4th and short conversions, and had it not been for Chris Jones’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the offense would have faced a 4th and 14 on their own 31-yard line with a little over 5 minutes remaining. You never know, but if Chris Jones stays quiet the Colts probably lose this one. All the blame for the loss would have gone to Reich, who once again failed to get the offense going at all and just made way too many mistakes. The next couple of games are crucial and will be a clear indication of whether this was just a slow start because of the new quarterback (completely feasible) or if the struggles on offense are really something to worry about.