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INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich knows talking about positives on a 1-5 football team sounds a bit odd.
But the Colts have turned a major negative into a positive this season.
The team’s pass protection ranks third in the NFL right now in sacks allowed per pass attempt. The Colts have allowed just 10 sacks in 288 pass attempts this season. The 3.46 percent sack rate is good for 3rd in the NFL and that comes with the Colts having started 5 of 6 different line combinations in 2018.
“No one wants to hear the positives when you are 1-5, but the pass protection is a positive,” the head coach said on Monday when asked about the Colts not allowing a sacks in 45 dropbacks for Andrew Luck against the Jets, with left tackle Anthony Castonzo making his 2018 debut.
“When you consider all the rotating along the offensive line and we haven’t played with our two starting tackles, the fact that we’ve played with a different starting line almost every week, and to be third in the NFL in fewest sacks per attempt, that’s really a credit, not just to the offensive line, but to Andrew, to the running backs. We really put a lot of work into what we called, our protection ‘SOP’, that’s standard operating procedure. We have a very formal way, a systematic way of how we approach protection and how we call it, make adjustments in a game. It’s something we put a lot of effort into and it’s paying dividends. It’s a tangible area of improvement. We are seeing it in spite of all the rotation and injury up front. That’s been a consistent positive for us.”
Another positive development in recent weeks has been the play of rookie Braden Smith.
The second-round pick is staying at right tackle, even with Denzelle Good possibly returning in Week Seven.
“He’s played pretty good the last two weeks, so that’s been very positive,” Reich said of Smith, who is more of a natural guard, but is needed at right tackle. “I think the sample size needs to be bigger in the long run to determine (his best position), to play against a couple of the elite edge pass rushers in this league and just to continue to show signs of improvement. He’s made some mental errors that you sometimes make as a young offensive lineman, but overall he’s played well and we are very happy with his progress.
“We will continue to evaluate it week-to-week, but right now it’s looking like (right tackle is) Braden’s spot with the way he’s playing.”
Besides the offensive line news, here are a few more notes from the Colts starting Week Seven:
- Reich had this to say about the Colts being tied for the worst record in the NFL after five weeks: “I fully understand we are a 1-5 team and we’ve got to own that and get these mistakes corrected. Really, feel strongly about the chemistry of this team. Sometimes adversity can drive you apart or pull you together and I really think it will pull us together. I think we’ve got good guys, good players and good leaders in that locker room who will help get this thing turned around. I still have a very positive outlook despite the circumstances.”
- The Colts have now had more than 15 drops in the last three games. “It’s been an issue,” Reich said on Monday. “It’s past the point of, ‘Okay, that was a fluke.’ We just have to keep working, catching balls. We feel like we have good depth and we spread the ball around and will continue to do that, but you still have limited guys on the roster. We will just keep working through it and try to get better…I don’t really worry about it that it’s too much pressure or anything like that. I think it comes down to fundamentals and technique and I do think there’s some mental confidence to it.”
- Reich had no injury updates on the three Colts who got hurt during Sunday’s loss to the Jets: RB-Robert Turbin (shoulder), WR-Marcus Johnson (ankle) and WR-Ryan Grant (ankle). If the Colts are missing Johnson or Grant this week, they will definitely have to find a new wide receiver for their 53-man roster.
- The Colts signed undrafted free agent Skai Moore back to the practice squad on Monday. We will see on Tuesday if this team makes any changes to their 53-man roster.