INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1075TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
Anytime a head coach uses the word ‘ugly’ to describe a win, you know there were a mixed bag of results from the winning team.
What was the good and bad from the Colts (5-5) ending a three-game homestand with a 23-17 win over the Jaguars (2-7)?
-Blocked Punt: Bubba Ventrone’s group strikes again. The special teams coordinator has created some massive plays in his 4 years heading that unit, and he saw this one coming. Ventrone texted special teams captain Zaire Franklin early last week saying he thought the Colts could find a game-changing play. They did that early on with Franklin getting free and then laying out beautifully for the block. Fellow linebacker E.J. Speed then showed his offensive background by scooping up the return and taking it 12 yards for the TD.
-Defensive Pressure: Facing a rookie quarterback, Matt Eberflus dialed up the pressure and the results came. The Colts ended Sunday with 10 quarterback hits and 3 sacks of Trevor Lawrence. It was the smart game plan to keep the rookie away from feeling settled. Schematically, the Jaguars had issues identifying the Colts pre-snap and it showed with several free rushers totally wrecking plays. Individually, Kwity Paye’s 3 QB hits and sack was the highlight.
-Fast Start: All three phases played big parts in the Colts building a three-score lead before the end of the first quarter. It was a dominant start from the offensive line, with the Colts getting an opening-quarter field goal and touchdown. In between that, you had the blocked punt returned for a touchdown. It was a dream start, and a gut punch to a team that hasn’t won a road game in nearly two years.
-Offensive Rut: Following that first quarter start, the Colts had their worst offensive stretch of the season. On their next 9 drives, the Colts punted 7 times and kicked 2 field goals. The issues started up front, with Jacksonville controlling the line of scrimmage throughout. Troubles for the Colts included not recognizing, nor taking advantage, of the various pressures from the Jaguars. That’s on both Carson Wentz, and the offensive line, and it showed with the lack of production.
-Putting This Game Away: Technically, the Colts did finish with one more pressure sealing this victory. But leading 17-0, this game should have never come down to Jacksonville in Indy territory with a chance to break the Colts’ heart. The inability to put such games away has been a storyline for the Colts all season long. Getting away with it against Jacksonville is dangerous fire (see the Miami last month leading to a blown one vs. Baltimore or Tennessee).