INDIANAPOLIS – This is the sort of defensive playmaking fans of the Colts have dreamed of for years.
One week after breaking up an impressive 9 passes, the Colts defense decided it wasn’t enough just to get their hands on balls and force incompletions.
It was about finishing those plays with turnovers, and turning those into points.
The Colts had three interceptions on Sunday, and they led directly to points and/or halted a great Jets chance for points:
-1st quarter, 12:25 to play: Xavier Rhodes pick six on the opening drive of the game. Locked up in man coverage on a 3rd-and-6, Rhodes knows full well that a comeback route for rookie Lawrence Cager is coming. As soon as Cager reaches just beyond the first-down marker, Rhodes’ eyes shifts back to Sam Darnold who one-reads it right to the outside part of the field. Rhodes is in perfect position for the INT, and then takes off aggressively down the sideline for the opening-drive pick six.
–2nd quarter, 5:29 to play: Rhodes pick in the end zone, with the Jets down 17-7 in the second quarter. Right before this 1st-and-Goal snap from the 7-yard line, Kenny Moore is in the slot and motions to Rhodes, who is lined up outside. It appears the Colts are in man coverage, but Rhodes shows zone post-snap, reading the eyes of Darnold. Rhodes said afterwards he knew the ‘7’ route was coming and was again positioned perfectly for his second INT. Darnold thought it was a busted coverage by Rhodes.
-3rd quarter, 0:00 to play: T.J. Carrie’s pick six at the end of the third quarter to put the game on ice, at 31-7. At the snap, the Colts showed a disguised man look, before dropping into a zone. Down 24-7, Darnold and the Jets need a miracle. The young QB forces one into a messy-looking situation, with Carrie squatting down in his zone responsibility. Once Carrie caught the interception, he had a convoy of blockers ready for the second pick six of the game.
Three plays that easily could be contributed to a 21-point differential, as the cornerback group is playing like a bunch looking far different than the one we saw in the season opener.
Playing without top outside cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (illness) for a second straight game, the Colts cornerbacks stepped up big time on Sunday afternoon.
In a first half that included a few shakier performances (in the trenches, struggles on third down and a missed field goal), it was the cornerback group delivering.
Earlier this month, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said the Colts wanted to try some different things on third down this season.
Well, two of the three interceptions on Sunday came on that money down, with the Colts making strides from how they started the 2020 season.
“The big thing that we work on is pre and post snap reads,” Carrie said after the Colts moved to 2-1 on the season. “That’s something that every quarterback in the National Football League doesn’t like. If you show him something pre-snap and then post-snap giving him a different look, that tick of hesitation gives our D-line a chance to get to the quarterback, force him into making bad decisions.
“I think that’s the biggest thing we harp on all year, pre and post snap reads. What is the quarterback seeing initially? And then as soon as the ball is hiked, what are we giving him? That’s something we continue to harp on ourselves, making sure that we are not one dimensional in showing them one thing and giving them that one thing.”
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