Five Things Learned

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5 Things Learned, Colts vs. Chargers Week 16

The Colts lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-3, to fall to 4-10-1 on the season. Here are five things we learned Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

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1. The Colts' effort is not in question.

While the Colts lost their fifth game in a row on Monday night, Jeff Saturday didn't see his team quit – something he's been pleased with since taking over as interim head coach a month and a half ago.

"Just the pride and effort, these guys lay it out there," Saturday said. "I mean, I can't tell you – I mean, I told them how grateful I am. The defense battling, that's tough. It's tough sledding man. Nothing – you know, nothing to play for, down, offense isn't moving the ball. Them guys, they're still laying hat, playing hard. I take a lot of pride in that. And I tell them, man, I'm so grateful and appreciative of how hard they do try to play. And, again, when all things are stacked against you, it shows you a lot about yourself. I think those guys, they are proving to themselves what they are as professional football players. And that's true pros. And I'm grateful for what they're doing."

As quarterback Nick Foles pointed out, sometimes teams give good effort but still lose games in the NFL – and that's where this Colts team sits with two games left in the 2022 season.

"It's just unfortunate sometimes you can give it everything you have and the outcome is not what you thought," Foles said. "And that's the hard part of this game. But there's also the time where you give everything you have and you win games and then you keep winning. And then you win a lot of games and then you make the playoffs. And I'm just fortunate I've seen both of them. And the biggest thing is, you know, you can be fighting every single down and lose a game like we did. But I've also been on some teams where we fought and we win. So, it's just a unique game. That's why we keep playing. It's hard. It's a very difficult game. But you learn a lot about yourself and the people you play with."

2. Jeff Saturday didn't consider a mid-game quarterback switch.

Saturday felt like Foles, based on the way he practiced leading up to Monday night's game, gave the Colts the best chance to win, so he didn't consider making an in-game switch to backup Sam Ehlinger.

"I didn't think a change was going to help us move the ball any more effectively," Saturday said. "Not just because of how he played. But I said the way he practiced and just trying to find the rhythm with the offense, I don't think making another change at this moment's going to do much to spark it."

Foles, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 143 yards with three interceptions, will move forward as the Colts' starting quarterback, Saturday said on Tuesday.

The Colts take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football at Lucas Oil Stadium.

3. Zack Moss was a bright spot.

The Colts weren't able to get into a rhythm on offense – they didn't convert any of their 10 third down tries, and Foles was sacked seven times in addition to throwing those three interceptions – but when Zack Moss had the ball in his hands, he looked impressive. Moss, who was acquired along with a conditional 2023 sixth round draft pick from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for running back Nyheim Hines on Nov. 1, ran with toughness and physicality over 12 carries, which gained 65 yards (5.4 yards/carry).

"He was running that thing hard in between the tackles, breaking tackles, did a really good job," Saturday said. "(Running backs coach) Scottie (Montgomery) does a great job of rotating them. But if he feels like one guy is rolling, he's going to keep them in. So, I don't get too involved in how he's going to separate them. But I know every time I looked up, Zack was breaking tackles and moving the pile. That's kind of how that went."

Moss led Colts running backs with 36 snaps (out of 52) on Monday, with Deon Jackson and Jordan Wilkins each playing eight snaps.

4. The seven sacks Nick Foles took weren't necessarily all on the offensive line.

After watching the tape from Monday night's game, Saturday said Tuesday afternoon he figured two of the seven sacks Foles took were on the offensive line. The rest, then, were the product of the Chargers' coverage or "some other area that we gotta get better at," Saturday said.

"They did a nice job covering," Foles said. "They were mixing up coverages. They were doing a good job with taking away a bunch of reads. And, you know, taking away leverage."

Still, Colts quarterbacks have been sacked 56 times this season, one shy of the highest total in the NFL (which belongs to the Denver Broncos). Every part of the Colts' offense has taken its turn in that total's growth, and those 56 sacks are tied for the fourth-most the Colts have allowed in a season since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. The franchise record for most sacks allowed in a season is 62, which came in 1997.

The Colts take the field for pregame warmups at Lucas Oil Stadium for Monday Night Football versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

5. Defensively, the Colts were solid.

The Colts held the Chargers to 4.7 yards per play, sacked quarterback Justin Herbert four times and saw rookie safety Rodney Thomas II intercept his team-high third pass of the season. But a handful of critical third down conversions – the Chargers turned eight of their 18 third down tries into first downs – powered long scoring drives of 12 and 13 plays that both ended with touchdowns.

"(Defensive coordinator) Gus (Bradley) talked about it earlier today," linebacker Bobby Okereke said. "You have to find a way to dance in the rain, and that's what we are trying to do as a defense."

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