The Colts were going up against the best defense in the NFL this season so far without their starting quarterback, right tackle, tight end, and with a banged up #2 receiver, and still somehow managed to put up 38 points on them. It was evident that Steichen learned from his mistakes and tried to put the game on Taylor/Moss’s hands, as the Colts will now live and die by the run game. The Colts were clearly intent on running the ball, even when it was not working they kept insisting with it and as a result Minshew seemed more comfortable when having to pass. The Colts are the only team to have scored 20+ points in every single game this year, even in spite of all the injuries suffered. Steichen deserves plenty of credit for that.
Blitzing P.J. Walker
Once Watson was out for the game Gus Bradley knew exactly what to do to make backup quarterback P.J. Walker uncomfortable, blitzing him from all sides and disguising pressures. Walker completed just 15 of 32 passing attempts, for 178 yards (5.5 YPA) and an interception.
Conservative play calling late in the game
I judge decisions trying to understand the reasoning behind them, not based on the result, and I think that the conservative play-calling late in the game was the right way to go considering Myles Garrett was single-handedly destroying your pass protection and Minshew’s ball security was suspect. The Colts ran the ball three consecutive times, forcing the Browns to burn all their timeouts, and making Walker beat them. In the end it did not work because backup cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. allowed a 30-yard catch on 3rd down, and then the refs decided that the Browns were going to win this one.
Gameplan for containing Myles Garrett
I know that no matter what you do, Myles Garrett is going to get his. That is what happens when you are going up against a guy of his talents, but the Colts knew he was the wrecking ball of the Browns’ defense, and have to prepare a better gameplan against him. For example, trusting tight end Drew Ogletree and rookie right tackle Blake Freeland to block him in your own end-zone is not the brightest choice, no matter the result.
Last two minutes of the first half
After the two minute warning I went to refill the hot water for my mate, up 21-17 and with possesion of the football, only to return and find out we were going into halftime down 21-27. I then rewinded the game to see what exactly happened and was just astonished. As mentioned above, having Ogletree and Freeland block Garrett there was just not the right call, when your offensive line is getting wrecked in pass-protection by someone you make sure to keep him in check at such a crucial time of the game. Instead, the Browns got a strip sack recovered for a touchdown. The drive after that stalled out, and Cleveland did just enough to get Hopkins into field goal range to go up by six into halftime. Those sort of mistakes cannot be repeated if the Colts are going to try and make the playoffs next year.
Three straight plays to Zack Moss near midfield in the middle of the 4th
The Colts will seemingly use the “hot hand” approach regarding their running back situation, and Taylor was clearly that guy on Sunday, finishing the game with 21 touches for 120 yards and a touchdown, but Steichen went with Moss for three consecutive carries near midfield with the Colts up by just one point late in the fourth quarter.