Must-win, gotta have it, crucial, playoff dependent.
However you want to describe Sunday at 1 PM between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, it’s probably accurate. Everybody and their brother knows how gigantic of a match-up this is when you look at the AFC South picture.
Well, everybody except CBS. We will once again be graced by the voices of Spero Dedes and Jay Feely this weekend. Even more of a reason to fire up The Fan and get the scoop on the radio call with Matt Taylor and Rick Venturi.
Beside the point, it’s do or die. And for once, the injury bug seems to be on the Colts side. That’s saying something for sports fans in Indy lol.
I’m not getting my hopes up too high, but if we get to the point where T.Y. Hilton plays and Julio Jones does not, that’s a gift from the football gods.
So don’t waste it.
Let’s get to it. It’s your Fast Four Keys for Sunday afternoon!
1) The Legs Feed the Wolf
Taking one from the great Herb Brooks here and the 1980 “Miracle On Ice”, which has a great tribute and display in the Hockey Hall of Fame by the way.
I don’t want to wake up on Monday and have to drive to The Circle and then talk with Kevin Bowen on The Fan Morning Show about Frank Reich getting away from the run. I’m sick and tired of that. There has not been one game this season, maybe besides last week in San Francisco, where we have walked in that studio and have not had some issue with how the run game was handled.
In particular, the last time you played Tennessee in Week 3 with Carson Wentz basically as the equivalent of a traffic cone in the pocket, the Colts ran the ball 10 times with Jonathan Taylor. Nyheim Hines had six total carries even though he scored a touchdown in the first half.
That can’t happen again.
When you commit to the run early, it only benefits the pass game. Now that Wentz has two healthy ankles again, you can run more read option just as you did against the 49ers; Or you can dabble in a big way with play action stuff. Whatever it is, it starts with JT and Nyheim.
2) Khari Willis Time
It’s no secret that I’m a massive Khari Willis fan.
I love the way he plays from the safety spot. But there’s no question that Willis’ start to the season was a major disappointment. The way he played against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams was the total opposite of the guy we saw during training camp.
Lately, Willis has been a ton better. Now it’s time to really show it.
Back in Week 3, Julian Blackmon was the Colts leading tackler. All 11 of them were solo tackles too.
Good news I guess for the Titans, there is no more Julian Blackmon this season. It’s up to Willis now to captain the safety spot. Because the combo of Andrew Sendejo and George Odum makes me nervous no matter who the quarterback is on the other side of the line.
3) Finding a Way to Win
This was something I wrote about earlier this week.
Until the game against the 49ers, there was no killer instinct out of this team. I get Reich’s approach is week-by-week and one game at a time. This team seems to have bought into that mindset.
But I don’t want to be nice. I want blood in the water and the notion to step on their throat if and when you get any sense of momentum in this game.
With Derrick Henry and what he can do, there’s no time to feel any comfort no matter how much you are up by.
Just good enough teams lose games for themselves. Great teams find a way to win.
4) Derrick Henry’s Dominance
When you go against the best running back in the league, you need to accept that there’s no way you’re going to fully stop the man.
What you can do is take a controlled approach.
Henry has an NFL leading five games this year with 100 or more rushing yards. JT is right behind him with three. Henry is going to get his work on Sunday, but if the Colts can make anything like Week 3, they’ve got a shot.
Hear me out.
28 carries for 113 yards the last time he saw the Colts. That’s just a touch over four yards a carry.
That means the Colts were quick on tackles, aggressive in the trenches, and smart with their game plan.
With no Julio Jones this weekend, Indianapolis can focus their attention a bit more on the task at hand; Stopping the big man.
Let’s get it rolling.
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