INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
Facing the toughest challenge to date, the Colts couldn’t survive in a shootout against the Browns (4-1) on Sunday, falling 32-23.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (3-2) losing in Week Five?
-Isaiah Rodgers: There’s a reason why the Colts have moved Rodgers into the permanent kick return role. They believe something is there and we saw that in Sunday’s third quarter. Obviously, Rodgers has elite speed, but the 101-yard return was really well blocked. Among the names worth mentioning on the return unit for their blocking, Anthony Walker, T.J. Carrie, Ashton Dulin and Jordan Wilkins all helped create the big play. The special teams unit continues to be the strength of the Colts through the first five weeks of the season, with the return group getting involved on Sunday.
-Run Defense: This shouldn’t get lost in the ugliness that Sunday was for several other areas. Cleveland finished Sunday with just 3.8 yards per carry and a surprising 2.7 in the first half. It was great work from the Colts defense against the NFL’s top rushing attack entering Sunday. Of course, eliminating such a rushing offense early on didn’t lead to any success in getting off the field. Despite Browns running backs having 17 total rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half, the Colts allowed 4 long scoring drives on all 4 series in the opening two quarters.
-Arm Of Philip Rivers: How can you not watch Philip Rivers and have concerns over his arm strength when stretching the field horizontally? The Colts won’t publicly say anything on that front, but it deserves some serious attention. It’s weird though. Rivers and the Colts have struck on some nice chucks vertically/down the seam. But the throws outside the numbers are much more uneasy and have led to some massive mistakes. Is this an outdoors/windy environment thing? Is this putting Rivers into a less than favorable situation on the scoreboard and on third downs?
-Frank Reich: Another day of the Colts struggling situationally was exacerbated by a few very head scratching mistakes from the head coach. Again, the poor third-down play (4-of-11) and red zone (1-of-4) brings some blame to the play caller. But the real issue for me with Reich on Sunday was his second quarter challenge of an Odell Beckham catch and his play-action play call that led to a back-breaking fourth-quarter safety. The challenge flag should never have been thrown for a 27-yard completion, on a first down, giving the Colts no more challenges the rest of the way. And the decision to call a 7-step, turn your back, play-action with Myles Garrett off the edge was a recipe for disaster. Against better teams, you can’t have managerial issues from your head coach like this.
-Pass Rush: So much chatter about the quarterback position from Sunday, it seems many forgot how ghost-like the Colts pass rush was in the first half. As was mentioned above, the Colts run defense was outstanding in the first half, putting Cleveland into some poor third-down situations. Yet, the Browns routinely converted and put score after score on the board early on. Creating pressure without blitzing was non-existent in the first half. Baker Mayfield had way too much time to operate and that put the Colts into a hole they weren’t going to dig out of with the way this passing offense currently looks.
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