INDIANAPOLIS — This spot is normally reserved for taking a quick look at the Indianapolis Colts' upcoming opponent every week. However, with no opponent because of the bye week, we will take a look in the mirror and do a quick self scouting report.
The Colts got their second big win in a row last Sunday, going on the road and defeating the Oakland Raiders, 42-28. The week before, they took care of the Buffalo Bills at home, 37-5.
Last week in Oakland, the Colts started out well, taking their opening possession 75 yards on 11 plays and scoring on a spectacular, 26-yard touchdown from quarterback Andrew Luck to tight end Mo Alie-Cox.
However, the Raiders would grab the momentum afterward, scoring 28 points through the third quarter before the Colts would drop the hammer.
In the fourth quarter, the Colts scored 14 unanswered points to break the 28-28 tie.
Luck threw the ball for 239 yards and three touchdowns — his fifth straight game with at least three touchdowns. His touchdowns all went to tight ends, which is the first time in NFL history that three tight ends from the same team have caught a touchdown in the same game.
The Colts' run game had its second huge game in a row — third if you consider what they did in the second half against the New York Jets in Week 6. In Oakland, they ran for a season-high 222 yards, led by career highs for Marlon Mack (132) and Nyheim Hines (78).
The offensive line obviously makes this all possible. Pro Football Focus recognized the Colts’ entire interior line — left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly and right guard Mark Glowinski — in the top 10 of their position grades for the week.
On defense, the Colts settled down a bit later in the second half after allowing 311 yards and 28 points through the first three quarters. In the fourth, the Colts allowed just 36 yards and zero points. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard forced a fumble — recovered by fellow rookie linebacker Matthew Adams — that essentially locked up the win for the Colts.
LOOKING BACK BEFORE LOOKING AHEAD
The Colts put themselves in a bit of a hole starting 1-5, but now at 3-5, they remain in position to make a run at the division title. The Colts still have five of six division games ahead of them, starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in Week 10 and then again at home against the Tennessee Titans the following week. The Colts are actually at home all of November, so some of their most meaningful games are still yet to be played.
In the three games that the Colts have won, they've been able to keep things controlled with the run game on offense, averaging a whopping 182 yards per game on the ground. They've also taken good care of the ball, turning it over just twice in the three games compared to seven takeaways.
Execution, execution, execution. Do your job, and good things will follow.
In the five games the Colts have lost, self-inflicted wounds (and a lack of execution) are arguably the biggest culprit, as you could make an argument for them winning in almost any of their losses. In fact, the Colts had second-half leads in three of the five losses and came within a score in the second half of the other two losses.
With how young the Colts are as a team (eighth-youngest team on opening day), it's understandable to have some mental mistakes. However, they are now correcting many of those mistakes and becoming more consistent — also to be expected.
At the season's halfway marker, Luck is on his way to one of his most statistically productive years. He currently has what would be a career-high in completion percentage (65.8%), and is on pace for a career high in pass completions (450), attempts (684) and passing touchdowns (46).
As we've covered, the Colts' run game has been outstanding in recent weeks. And, they've had to lean on different players in different scenarios. Four different players have been the Colts' leading rusher in a game this season, and their top three backs — Mack (5.8), Hines (4.6) and Jordan Wilkins (4.5) — are averaging over four yards per carry.
Not only has the offensive line propelled the run game, but Luck has also not been sacked since the first series in Week 5. He has now gone approximately 150 dropbacks without being sacked, leading many to believe he finally has a solid offensive line in front of him.
The defensive line got off to a hot start to the season but have lost a bit of their pass rush ferocity lately. In the first four games, they sacked opposing quarterbacks 17 times, but have done so just four times in the last four games. That includes two games with no sacks.
The linebackers have been a pleasant surprise, with Leonard a weekly Rookie of the Week candidate. The rookie leads the NFL in tackles (88) and has chipped in 4.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as well. Second-year linebacker Anthony Walker has been a mainstay at the MIKE after missing much of his rookie season to a hamstring injury. Walker is second on the team in tackles (33) in seven starts.
The secondary has also had its moments, as the top four corners — Kenny Moore II, Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson — have largely adjusted to new roles and adapted accordingly. The safeties — Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers — have been relatively untested downfield while on the field together, but they've made plays.
Reserve safety Matthias Farley unfortunately landed on Injured Reserve following surgery on his arm. Mike Mitchell was signed to fill in for both Geathers and Farley while they were injured, however, and he performed very well right off the bat. Mitchell was actually PFF's top-graded safety in his first two games with the Colts.
2018 KEY STATS
- 1st in third-down percentage (52%)
- Tied for 2nd in sacks allowed (10)
- 6th in scoring (28.9 PPG)
- Tied 8th in rushing yards per attempt (4.7)
- Tied for 26th in pass plays of 20-plus yards (21)
- 29th in passing yards per attempt (6.4)
- QB Andrew Luck second in passing touchdowns (23)
- RB Marlon Mack second in rushing yards per game (95.2)
- TE Eric Ebron second in receiving touchdowns and first among tight ends (7)
- P Rigoberto Sanchez third in net punting average (43.2) and seventh in punt return yards allowed (54)
- Tied for 2nd in fumbles recovered (7)
- Tied for 3rd in takeaways (16)
- Tied for 6th in red zone defense on the road (44.4%)
- Tied for 6th in forced fumbles (9)
- Tied f0r 8th in interceptions (9)
- Tied for 10th in sacks (21)
- DL Margus Hunt tied for third in tackles for loss (10)
- LB Darius Leonard first in tackles (88), tied for first among off-ball linebackers in forced fumbles (3) and tied for second among off-ball linebackers in fumbles recovered (2).