The offensive playcalling was a joy to watch during the first drive, as everything was going according to plan. After that it all crumbled, as the offensive line play was abysmal in big part because of Blake Freeland’s incompetence at right tackle, the wide receiver group, without Michael Pittman Jr. just could not find any sort of space, and Steichen just ran out of ideas to get that group going.
Just 262 total yards, 188 if you take out the first 75 yards of the drive, of offense, and a terrible day all around for a unit that was managing all sorts of setbacks. In the end, no starting quarterback, tight end, #2 running back, #1 receiver, starting tight end, and starting right tackle proved to be a bit too much even for Steichen to manage.
Defense / Special Teams
The defense was abysmal, torn apart by Taylor Heinicke and Bijan Robinson. The unit could not get a stop, force a turnover, or create any sort of splash plays, and when they managed to stop the Falcons’ offense the special teams’ unit had another crucial mistake in what resulted in a fourth and inches where the defense could not force the turnover on downs. It is not like the opposing offense was having to do too much, playing with a double digit lead most of the game, and with the way the Colts’ offense was struggling to move the ball a lead like that was probably insurmountable. The pass-rush was okay at times, but Heinicke’s awareness and mobility made it hard for them, the linebackers looked a bit sluggish, and the secondary was consistently always half a second late.
As for special teams, another key mistake, but overall not a terrible day, they just did not make that much of an impact on the game.
It is hard to judge a game where the team comes out as flat as they did against the Falcons. It is also worrying that this is the second time in three weeks that the team comes out and puts such a horrible performance on the field on what is a crucial game in the Colts’ aim to make the playoffs. Luckily for the Colts both the Texans and the Jaguars dropped their respective games, so this loss does not hurt their playoff chances as much, but what was hurt was my optimism and confidence in the team.
Again, this is not because of the loss, which playing in the NFL away from home against a team that is in the hunt for the playoffs might very well happen, this is because the fashion of the loss, and because this is not the first time that it happens. Steichen’s ability to bounce back will once again be tested against the Las Vegas Raiders next week at home, as the team also starts preparing for an anticipated playoff game against the Houston Texans in the final week of the season.