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INDIANAPOLIS – Did the Colts suffer a more impactful loss on the scoreboard Sunday or at the quarterback position?

That’s the debate after a right ankle injury to Carson Wentz knocked him out of the game, with the Colts unable to complete a comeback, in a 27-24 loss to the Rams.

What did we learn from the Colts falling to 0-2 for a fifth time in the last eight years?

 

FIVE THINGS LEARNED

1. Health Of Carson Wentz: The Colts have had just one player leave the first two games due to injury and not return. And that one player is the highest-paid man on the roster, playing the most important position in sports and with a long injury history. It’s not often we start off ‘things learned’ with an injury, but we are with Carson Wentz suffering a right ankle injury late in Sunday’s loss to the Rams. Following the game, Frank Reich said it was too early to know the severity on Wentz’s injured right ankle. But that Wentz had ‘no chance’ of returning to the game after the ankle got ‘rolled up pretty bad’ with 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter after a hit from Aaron Donald. Jacob Eason entered the game and threw an interception on his second attempt. That was Eason’s first snaps in the NFL. It goes without saying how difficult the opportunity was that Eason walked into on Sunday. And the interception was similar to something we’ve seen before at Grand Park, locking in on one read and not moving off of that with his eyes. It’s not how a lot of people want to look at the Wentz situation right now, but it should be noted that the Colts will retain their first-round pick if Wentz plays less than 75 percent of the offensive snaps this season. An MRI is coming shortly for Wentz and the implications of that are immense, on many levels.

2. Goal Line Issues: Ok, onto where this game was lost for the Colts. As I thought entering Sunday, I believed the Colts would be very competitive in this one, and they definitely accomplished that. Hell, you could make an argument they were the better team for long stretches on Sunday. But the Colts blew this one in the first half when they came away from a pair of goal-to-go scenarios with 0 points. That’s almost unheard-of. The first goose egg came with the Colts stoned on three straight rushes from the one-yard line in the first quarter. With Jonathan Taylor getting stuffed thanks to his offensive line not controlling the line of scrimmage, the Colts decided to throw it on 4th-and-Goal. That had zero chance of being completed with Wentz getting sacked. “It’s unacceptable,” is how Quenton Nelson described this sequence after the game. Given how much the Colts have invested into their O-line, Nelson is spot on with such an assessment. Later in the first half, the Colts decided to get a bit creative on the goal line. That backfired with Wentz throwing an awful interception on a shovel pass intended for Jack Doyle. Against any team, let alone the game’s elite, walking away from two great drives with 0 points will cost you majorly. The Colts hung in there and had some chances in the 2nd half, but they squandered such a great chance to play from ahead and that led to a second consecutive home loss. From Frank Reich, the play caller, to the execution of such plays, the Colts will achieve little this season until the red zone/goal line gets better.

3. Where’s The Quarterback Support? Through two games, the Colts have failed Carson Wentz in the ‘support’ department. That was something the Colts were steadfast in saying would be there for Wentz. That meant better offensive line play, a consistent run game, and more talent/continuity at the wide receiver position. So far, none of that has been there. None of it. Wentz has been hit 21 times in two games, taking some vicious shots that eventually led to him being knocked out of Sunday’s loss. The running backs are below 3.5 yards per carry this season. And the receiver play has been hit by injuries to T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. Wentz showed on Sunday what he can give this offense—a big arm that sparked the first scoring drive, legs to extend plays/series and toughness to hang in the pocket and give every play a chance. Yes, the Wentz INT was not good on Sunday. But he has largely done his part so far. It’s the rest of the Colts—from personnel, to coaching, to play around him—that has failed the starting quarterback.

4. Inconsistent Defense There Again: Entering Sunday, one of the areas where the Colts had to win was their defensive line against the Rams offensive line. That didn’t happen. Rams running backs Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel combined for more than 4 yards per carry, including a critical clock-eating drive in the 4th quarter, which ended with the eventual game-winning field goal. On that drive, Michel had 4 straight carries for 32 yards, pushing the Rams into easy field goal range. Still, the Indy D shouldn’t be blamed too much for this loss. A string of three straight three-and-outs in the second half was massive in getting the Colts back into this one. But that still doesn’t mean we should overlook the missed chances that the D-line had on Sunday. The Colts had just 3 QB hits, compared to 11 for the Rams. Cooper Kupp had way too many yards after catch, in hauling in 9 passes for 163 yards. The measuring stick for the Indy defense comes against offenses like the Seahawks and Rams. So far, the unit hasn’t been up to the standard necessary to be a team playing into the month of January.

5. Behind The 8-Ball: Well, the Colts have been here before. When the NFL schedule was released in the spring, this 2-game start was eye-popping. It still stings to lose two straight games at home, especially when you are looking at three straight on the road: Titans, Dolphins, Ravens. Playing in the AFC South is a great gift for the Colts. But the Colts are still in a position that’s less than ideal to start the season. Under a 16-game season/7 playoff teams, the numbers are awful for 0-2 teams making the playoffs (around 11 percent). Home losses like these just continue to shrink the margin for error for the Colts, especially when you ponder future Wild Card possibilities. If you are someone who believes in prayer, throw the AFC South on that list each night. The division is now 2-6 to start the season, and that’s the only item of hope for the Colts right now, as they hit the road for three straight games.

 

QUICK HITTERS

-Injury Report: Carson Wentz left the game in the 4th quarter with a right ankle injury. The following players were inactive: CB-Xavier Rhodes (calf), OT-Braden Smith (foot), WR-Parris Campbell (abdomen), DL-Isaac Rochell, OL-Will Fries, DT-Chris Williams.

-Key Stat: Michael Pittman had 8 catches for 123 yards on Sunday, marking the second time in his career he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark.

What’s Next: After two straight homes games to start the year, the Colts will be on the road for the next three weeks, starting with a Week 3 contest at Tennessee (1-1) next Sunday at 1:00.