Bounceback performance for Braden Smith, who was the most solid member of the Colts’ offensive line on Sunday. Not having to deal with Aaron Donald for most of the game is probably a big plus, but the Colts really needed their star right tackle to get back into form. Smith finished the game with just one pressure allowed, and seemed quicker and stronger than the past three weeks.
Ryan Kelly was a cut candidate in this offseason, as he is among the highest paid centers in the NFL and his play last season was mediocre at best. Through the first two weeks Kelly looked like his old self, before a concussion sidelined him the past two games. Why is he a winner then? Well because of the way the offensive line has looked when he is not there ready to play. Not only has his play improved, but the protection schemes and call outs are of course much better with a veteran at center.
Darrell Baker Jr.
Another winner that did not play on Sunday, Baker Jr. will get another chance to show his worth after starting cornerback Dallis Flowers went down for the season with an Achilles tear (seriously why can’t NFL teams play on natural grass!!!). Baker Jr. was firmly out of the cornerback rotation with Juju Brents taking his starting job, and Jaylon Jones getting some snaps here and there, but according to Gus Bradley the Colts will rotate Jones and Baker on the outside in nickel packages with Flowers out.
Talk about electric! Despite not being able to get anything going in the first half, Richardson definitely turned it up after halftime, as even some incompletions left me wondering how he was able to do that. Richardson is a winner here because it was clear, in case there was still any doubt about it, that he is the Colts’ best option at quarterback this season.
Dayo was by far the Colts’ best player on defense against the Rams. 5 stops in the running game, 6 total pressures, 2 sacks, Hurricane Dayo was on full effect. Currently the snap rotation is Kwity and Ebukam at 60%, Dayo at 50%, Tyquan Lewis at 30% and Jake Martin at 10% for the defensive ends, but if Dayo continues playing like this don’t be surprised if he ends up taking over Kwity Paye’s spot.
Making your rookie debut without the veteran center and against a defensive line that has Aaron Donald is never a good spot to be in, but still Blake Freeland had a disappointing first NFL game. The former BYU swing tackle allowed 4 total pressures and was a clear step down from Bernhard Raimann, who will hopefully be back by next week.
Disclaimer since I don’t want to be put on Shaq’s “Hater Blogger” list: I understand he is on a pitch count, I understand he is not yet fully healthy, and he is expected to be back at 100% by November. But even taking those things into account Shaq’s return has been a tad underwhelming in my opinion. The Maniac is a linebacker that relies a lot on his freak athleticism, so his struggles as he gets back to form were to be expected, but 21 combined tackles through 4 games, no sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, or fumble recoveries is not up to Leonard’s standard.
I expected Kwity Paye to take over this game against a Rams’ offensive line that struggled against the Bengals defensive line last week. Instead it was the aforementioned Dayo who took full advantage of the chance, instead Paye faded into the background, as it tends to happen, and registered just a single pressure and no run stops.