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I gave myself a day at work and away from our loss to try to reflect on yesterday's game.  Disappointing we lost and it stinks we lost Mack for the year, but I think there were some positives from yesterday's games.  Here's my good and bad.

 

The Good:

 

1) We got off to a fast start.  This has been a problem for the Colts for several years now (dating back to the Pagano days).  We scored a TD on our first drive (something that's become pretty rare for this team) and we looked basically unstoppable on our first drive.  After a stop, we had another drive where we looked almost unstoppable until we failed a 4th and 1 on the JAX 3 yard line - I support Reich for going for it there, unfortunately we didn't convert.  We were very close to being up 14-0 after our 2nd drive and we really were moving the ball at will for the majority of our first 2 drives.

 

2) Rivers completion percentage (78.3%) and yardage were solid.  He did a very nice job of spreading the ball around with 9 different people getting catches at an average of 10.1 ypc.  His INTs were not good plays, but for the most part Rivers looks like he'll be solid.

 

3) Kept Rivers upright -- he wasn't sacked at all and I only remember him taking a solid hit once throughout the game.  That's gotta be nice for him coming from last year's Chargers team.

 

4) Campbell -- IMO, by far his best overall game.  He showed development from last year in terms of route running and he definitely showed he can be a playmaker when he's got the ball in his hand.

 

5) RBs as receivers -- Mack had 30 yards on 3 catches (10 ypc) and Taylor had 67 yards on 6 catches (11.2 ypc) while Hines added 8 catches for 45 yards (5.6 ypc) and a TD (one rushing/one receiving).  Taylor showed a lot of explosiveness when he got the ball in the open as a receiver.  Stinks we lost Mack, but it's clear that Rivers is able to check down to the RBs more capably than Brissett.

 

6) Four sacks on D.  Our pass rush wasn't all that consistent, but I thought Autry (2 Sacks) looked pretty solid and 4 sacks in a game is still a strong number.

 

7) Returners -- Dulin had returns of 25 and 41 yards and looks explosive as a returner and while Hines had 1 return for 24 yards, I think we know he can be a lightning rod as a return guy.  I suspect we'll see at least a couple of return TDs by the end of the year.

 

8) Leonard -- he seemed to be his normal old self out there and is definitely a leader of this D.  

 

The Bad:

 

1) Overall D.  Aside from the 4 sacks and a few solid efforts from individual players we let Minshew complete 19/20 and they average 4.0 yards per carry.  We forced 0 turnovers and the D seemed pretty vanilla to me.  It also seemed as though the secondary was not in sync most of the game, my guess is poor communication back there and it was pretty alarming we let Minshew complete that many passes.  On the positive, we gave up pretty few yards (173 passing or 150 if you subtract the 23 yards from sacks, 91 rushing) -- but Minshew is one of, if not the, worst QBs we'll play this year.  Not promising to see him complete 95% of his passes, especially when we'll have to face much more skilled QBs and overall offenses throughout the remainder of the year.

 

2) Run game after Mack went out.  Marlon was averaging 6.5 yards per carry (granted ~3/4 of them came on an 18 yard run and his other 3 runs he only had 8 total yards).  I'll have to break the tape down a bit more to see if Taylor was just making bad reads or being hesitant in the backfield or if it was mainly on the OL, but we really only had 3 good runs (Mack's 18 yarder, Hines' 12 yard TD, Taylor's 9 yarder) in the game.

 

3) Unbalanced O.  We seemed to really abandon the run game.  Not that I expect us to be ~50/50 run/pass every game, but for a team whose motto continues to be 'run the d*mn ball' we were certainly very pass heavy yesterday.  

 

4) Rivers' INTs.  Overall, I thought Rivers played well, but thought both his INTs were poor decisions and poorly thrown balls.  We really need to limit these in the future as they definitely played a critical role in losing this game.

 

5) TY had 4 receptions on 9 targets.  Glad Rivers targeted him 9 times, but we need higher completion percentage to our #1 moving forward (not all TY's fault as the INT was just a poorly thrown ball and one that shouldn't have been thrown).  

 

6) Pittman seemed to be absent from the game.  Hopefully he'll develop over the year, but it was discouraging to have our #1 overall pick only go for 2 catches and 10 yards.

 

7) Buckner - he made a few nice plays but he was far from the dominant force I was expecting him to be in the middle of the DL.

 

8) Stewart - he blatantly jumped offside on one play, but IMO he didn't really look too good out there for most of the day.

 

9) Slow finish -- early in the game, our O really did look like they were moving the ball at will.  Not entirely sure how much Mack going down impacted playcalling later in the game, but the O definitely looked more predictable and sputtered along after a pretty hot start.

 

10) The Brissett play -- I hope this isn't something that becomes normal throughout the year.

 

Neutral:

 

1) Blankenship -- he definitely has plenty of leg and went 2/2 on XPs and 2/3 on field goals.  His miss was off the upright and had plenty of leg behind it, but we can't afford another season of missing make-able kicks week in/week out.

 

2) J. Taylor -- I thought he looked very explosive when he had the ball in space as a receiver, but his 2.4 yards per carry was not a good thing.  

 

3) Offensive playcalling -- it was spot on early in the game.  I don't blame Reich for going on it on 4th and 1 from the 3 (it was kind of a predictable call running behind Q, but I liked the aggressiveness and faith he had in the O at that time).  However, it seemed to be more predictable and unbalanced as the game wore on.  I'm not too worried that Reich/Sirianni will make adjustments as the season goes on, but after a hot start yesterday they had an underwhelming finish (I'm a bit more concerned about 'Flus and the D, though).

 

4) O-Line -- sure, they allowed 0 sacks on Rivers (and 1 on Brissett which was just a terrible play call all around).  That said, they didn't look like the OL which could consistently dominate in the run game like they did last year.  Again, not too worried here, but they've got to have more balance moving forward.  

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Good analysis.  When you lose a close game to what’s supposed to be the worst team in the league, you have to look at everything, game prep, play calling, and scheme, as well as individual play.  
 

Was the missed FG tipped?  I couldn’t tell and the announcers got so many things wrong I didn’t expect them to notice.  

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1 hour ago, Smonroe said:

I couldn’t tell and the announcers got so many things wrong I didn’t expect them to notice.  

I had to turn the sound off of the TV. Got sick of hearing the announcers gushing over the Jags the entire time. 

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Good calm analysis. The secondary’s terrible performance and the D scheme that gave away the underneath all day is what troubles me. Has to get fixed immediately. 

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Nice analysis.  Regarding Buckner;  I think him getting double teamed helped us get those four sacks.  That was supposed to be his role so the other guys free up.  He will get his share for sure.  But I was surprised we had four sacks and I think his presence was key to that happening.  I will be interested to see Leonards numbers and grade.  I don't remember much about his level of play in that game.  Usually there are a number of plays he makes and you say Wow!

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2 hours ago, Smonroe said:

Good analysis.  When you lose a close game to what’s supposed to be the worst team in the league, you have to look at everything, game prep, play calling, and scheme, as well as individual play.  
 

Was the missed FG tipped?  I couldn’t tell and the announcers got so many things wrong I didn’t expect them to notice.  

No one has answered your question about the FG attempt being tipped.  I was wondering about that as well.  My friends think  Doyle was interfered with in the end zone and that's why the pass was incomplete.  A no call.  Not sure.  

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30 minutes ago, richard pallo said:

No one has answered your question about the FG attempt being tipped.  I was wondering about that as well.  My friends think  Doyle was interfered with in the end zone and that's why the pass was incomplete.  A no call.  Not sure.  

Did some slow-mo replay of the kick. It looks like #96 of the Jags could have possibly nipped it. But if you look at Blankenship's follow through of his leg, it seemed like it was directly aimed towards that goalpost. The ball also didn't seem to lose any velocity after passing by #96 and the rotation was the same. 

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Yeah, on the ineffective run game, I think it was a mixture of everything. The OL, the D stacking the box, and JT/Hines not being Marlon. Sometimes JT was met in he backfield, but other times, two carries I remember vividly, it seemed like he missed the hole or took too long to react.

 

Also, on the lack of turnovers, I thought the same thing. Ballard always talks about committing TO’s but the only hope I ever see of that is Leonard making a miraculous play or a DL getting a strip. Again, Ballard always mentions the need for turnovers for this defense to be effective but I don’t see many INT’s coming.

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The colts did more to lose the game that the Jags did to win IMO. They used our script from last seaon kept it simple avoided mistakes and capitlized on ours. 

 

Saw this in a tweet so our defense and offense are ranked top 5 after week 1. 

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1 hour ago, Fisticuffs111 said:

Yeah, on the ineffective run game, I think it was a mixture of everything. The OL, the D stacking the box, and JT/Hines not being Marlon. Sometimes JT was met in he backfield, but other times, two carries I remember vividly, it seemed like he missed the hole or took too long to react.

 

Also, on the lack of turnovers, I thought the same thing. Ballard always talks about committing TO’s but the only hope I ever see of that is Leonard making a miraculous play or a DL getting a strip. Again, Ballard always mentions the need for turnovers for this defense to be effective but I don’t see many INT’s coming.

 

The TD to Chark Jr. was just miscommunication -- there is no reason he should have been that wide open between Willis and the CB.  Otherwise, we were just giving up short/intermediate passes all game.  I think if our D is going to get turnovers via interception (aside from Leonard making a few at LB) it's going to be from Hooker and Ya-Sin (maybe Blackmon later in the year).  Where Hooker really thrives is being a center fielder, having the QB be forced to throw deep while he's being pressured and making good reads/breaks on iffy passes -- that's simply not going to happen if we're giving up the middle of the field and teams are able to pass at will in front of the safeties.

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Great breakdown and I agree with a majority of your points. I was reading a TDN article this morning that went over why Minshew had the success he did against our defense and it brought up a point I hadn't thought too much about.

 

We have the same DC with the same scheme, and overall mostly the same personnel. They have a new OC in Jay Gruden, who by all accounts is regarded as a very good OC. They definitely had an advantage in game-planning for a known defense and scheme, while we didn't have that ability on the defensive side of the ball.

 

Minshew was also one of the best first-read passers in the league last year and with our soft zone coverage, it played to his strengths. An excerpt:

 

Quote

Gruden’s offense didn’t only get Minshew to his first read, but they opened his first read extremely quickly. 85% of Minshew’s passing attempts came quicker than 2.75 seconds from the snap, with 40% of his attempts coming even faster than two seconds flat (NFL average: 26%).

 

Our defense is built to allow shallow underneath passes, so it made sense for them to play to Minshew's strengths while targeting our scheme's flaws. I don't see this as a sustainable plan of action against other more aggressive defenses, so he probably won't have this kind of accuracy and success in the coming weeks. I would also hope we can make the proper adjustments to be able to shut this down the next time we play the Jags.

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2 minutes ago, Shive said:

Great breakdown and I agree with a majority of your points. I was reading a TDN article this morning that went over why Minshew had the success he did against our defense and it brought up a point I hadn't thought too much about.

 

We have the same DC with the same scheme, and overall mostly the same personnel. They have a new OC in Jay Gruden, who by all accounts is regarded as a very good OC. They definitely had an advantage in game-planning for a known defense and scheme, while we didn't have that ability on the defensive side of the ball.

 

Minshew was also one of the best first-read passers in the league last year and with our soft zone coverage, it played to his strengths. An excerpt:

 

 

Our defense is built to allow shallow underneath passes, so it made sense for them to play to Minshew's strengths while targeting our scheme's flaws. I don't see this as a sustainable plan of action against other more aggressive defenses and I would hope we can make the proper adjustments to be able to shut this down the next time we play the Jags.

 

All good points... I hope we adjust next time we play anyone... it's a copycat league, or so they say.  After watching the game tape, other teams are going to be able to utlilize a similar plan if we don't make adjustments (and perhaps be more dangerous -- e.g., when we play a team that is actually a threat to hit with the deep ball, we'll be in a world of hurt if they have us baited into the Jags game plan and take a few deep shots.  

 

'Flus said early on here that he was basically letting his players play fast and use their athleticism and as they developed and we got more pieces, he'd make the scheme a bit more complex.  So yes, while we have the same DC and mostly the same personnel, we did add an all-pro DT, a solid vet CB (Rhodes) and you'd like to think our young guys (Ya-Sin, Okereke, Leonard, Moore II, Stewart, Banogu, even Walker and Hooker) are taking strides forward to the point where we're not playing a pretty vanilla D every week.   That didn't seem the case on Sunday, but maybe it'll change as they get more time to gel in real game situations.

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Good Job. I'm tired of the overreaction from this game. Week 1 after an altered offseason with no preseason and no tackling. The defense lacked intensity which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Its how we bounce back and learn from this loss. It is easy to point at all the things the Colts did wrong but Minshew was extremely accurate and had a stellar performance. Henderson also had a great game for them.

 

Overall, I liked a lot of what I saw. The offense has the potential to be very efficient and the defense showed glimpses of being stout. They obviously suffered from a lack of preseason but I expect them to get things together. Still very excited for this team. Vikes defense is a lot worse than people think, I'm expecting a big game for our offense and predicting 100+ total yards from Taylor. 

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) J. Taylor -- I thought he looked very explosive when he had the ball in space as a receiver, but his 2.4 yards per carry was not a good thing.  

 

That catch and run is exactly what I was dreaming about all offseason. Taylor is a chunk yard machine...and he is just too explosive and powerful to not break off a 30+ yard reception at some point...which has happened once the past two years (Jonathan Williams). 

 

And then boom...he does it on his first touch. Eventually that 30+ reception will become a 50+ yard TD...and Taylor should at least be splitting passing game reps (and targets)...the upside is too high.

 

I am not worried about the rushing...it will come...especially now that Taylor will be taking 1st team reps. I was more perplexed why they didn't give him any carries in the 1st half...and Reich absolutely should have given him a 2nd chance to punch in that TD after the big catch and run (but he ran the JB play).

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35 minutes ago, shasta519 said:

 

That catch and run is exactly what I was dreaming about all offseason. Taylor is a chunk yard machine...and he is just too explosive and powerful to not break off a 30+ yard reception at some point...which has happened once the past two years (Jonathan Williams). 

 

And then boom...he does it on his first touch. Eventually that 30+ reception will become a 50+ yard TD...and Taylor should at least be splitting passing game reps (and targets)...the upside is too high.

 

I am not worried about the rushing...it will come...especially now that Taylor will be taking 1st team reps. I was more perplexed why they didn't give him any carries in the 1st half...and Reich absolutely should have given him a 2nd chance to punch in that TD after the big catch and run (but he ran the JB play).

I agree -- that chunk play is something which will really help this team.  Obviously, Taylor showed a lot of speed once he got that ball... but it was also a well-designed play and Rivers helped bait the Jags D into it (not sure Brissett has that knack).  Taylor definitely showed he's got explosiveness and it'll be a thing of beauty if we can continue to see those types of plays to our RBs (including Hines and Wilkins) moving forward.  

 

Taylor still struggled in the run game.  I know our OL (I think aside from Glow) had different injuries throughout TC and it'll probably take them a game or two to really gel.  I'd have to really break the tape down though and see if it was the OL, the playcalls or Taylor (or what kinda combo of all 3) which lead to him only averaging 2.4 yards per carry on the ground.  We gotta get that kid some holes, because if he can get to the back level of the D, he's dangerous, for sure.

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The use of RBs in the passing game is great to see, and Rivers is obviously comfortable using them. What I did not see that we were all pumped for was the fact that we have multiple big, athletic WRs. Not sure Reich knows how to use them though. No use of the TE, no back shoulder. 

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