INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1070TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
With elite playmaking from the Colts defense, Frank Reich’s team moved to 2-1, behind a controlled 36-7 victory over the lowly Jets (0-3).
What was the good and bad from the Colts (2-1) winning back-to-back games for the first time since last October?
-Xavier Rhodes: When the Colts made the signing of Xavier Rhodes back in March, it fell into the category of more high risk/high reward in terms of his play on the field. We’ve seen a little bit of both from him early this season, but the reward was definitely there on Sunday. Rhodes picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and stopping a red zone drive with an INT in the end zone. The first pick by Rhodes was textbook coverage in man and then seeing determination to turn that turnover into points. The second INT had the look of a busted coverage, but credit to Rhodes for locking in on Sam Darnold’s eyes for the big-time turnover, with the game still somewhat in doubt.
-Efficiency of Philip Rivers: Another game of great accuracy (80.9 percent completion) and production (10 yards per pass attempt) from Philip Rivers and the passing offense. This has been the norm for Rivers in his three games with the Colts, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Yet, there are some definite strides that need to happen for the Colts offense. But the efficiency of this passing offense has made some key improvements from last season.
-Field Position: For a second straight week, the Colts were dominant in field position. It was a 16-yard advantage in average drive start, which is a tremendous difference (18 yard-line for the Jets, 34-yard line for the Colts). In Week Two, the Colts had a 25-yard advantage in average drive start. The first credit goes to the Colts kicking units, with the coverage group being complementary, as well. Kudos to special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone and his group for creating big-time hidden yardage in these consecutive wins.
-More Defensive Playmaking: The Colts now have 6 interceptions in their last 2 games. I don’t care who the quarterback is, that’s really impressive. Too often in the past decade, the Colts have lacked the ability to turn the ball over at a high rate. On Sunday, not only did they force takeaways, but they turned those directly into points (14) and took some away with an INT in the red zone. With the Jets banged up all over their wideout depth chart, the Colts were aggressive and read the eyes of Sam Darnold beautifully.
-Trench Play: It wasn’t a great first half for the Colts in the run game trench department. You had Frank Gore averaging 4.0 yards per carry, while Jonathan Taylor was barely over 3 yards per carry. The run game for the Colts hasn’t been as dominant as you would like it to be early in the season. Now, the vision of Jonathan Taylor could be better. But you still would like to see more of a line of scrimmage control from the Colts in the run game.
-3rd Down Conversions: It was pointed out by Frank Reich on several occasions after the 29-point victory—the Colts have to be better on 3rd down. They rank as the worst team in the NFL in that category through three weeks, and went just 3-of-10 on the money down against the Jets. Even in some favorable down and distance situations, the Colts had trouble sustaining drives against the Jets, missing out on a few other scoring opportunities. Reich’s history is as a better third-down play caller, but this is something that needs to change.