Practice Notebook

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Practice Notebook: Colts 'Know What The Issues Are' As They Look To Improve Consistency, Communication With Pass Protection 

Matt Ryan has been sacked 12 times through three games, a statistic the Colts feel is "uncharacteristic" but reversible with some fixes to their pass protection. 

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There are two stats about the Colts' pass protection that don't seem to connect.

  • First: Matt Ryan has been sacked 12 times, the fourth-most in the NFL.
  • Second: The Colts, per Pro Football Focus, have allowed the fourth-lowest pressure rate (19.7 percent) in the NFL.

So Ryan is getting sacked a lot, but he's not getting pressured nearly as much as the narrative around the Colts' offensive line would suggest.

The Colts' offensive line is winning plenty of its one-on-one matchups, something head coach Frank Reich pointed out on Monday after reviewing the film of his team's 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. And against the blitz, the Colts' offensive line has allowed the third-lowest pressure rate (15.4 percent) in the NFL, per PFF, behind only the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan is averaging 7.1 yards per pass when blitzed, 12th-highest in the league.

"What we've got to be is more consistent," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. "Yeah, we did pick up some pressures, got in the right call, picked them up nice and clean and completed a pass. But too many times where we're not picking it up. What you're looking for as an offense in production is consistency and we've got to be better there."

First things first: The Colts' offensive line is not shying away from taking accountability for their quarterback being sacked 12 times.

"We're all about solutions and fixing issues," left guard Quenton Nelson said. "We know what the issues are, we've addressed them and what needs to change in order to play better to fix those issues."

Consistency is a key word here. The Colts have shown they can pick up the blitz and prevent pressures, but when they don't, they've seen too many free rushers getting a shot at Ryan. Through three games, the Colts have allowed four sacks on unblocked pressures, tied for the most in the NFL.

"At times we've done it good," Ryan said. "It's just been at certain times and critical times, too, where we've had lapses in that. For me, the focus has to be on improving our consistency. Because the good is good, and the bad is really — it's not good. We're capable of better consistently. And we've done it very well at times and we've done it poorly at times, we just need to be more consistent with it."

Reich said Wednesday those unblocked pressures and sacks are the product of mental errors, but also emphasized that they don't happen in an offensive line-oriented vacuum.

"It's very uncharacteristic of our team, but we have to own that we put that on tape," Reich said. "I think we all take that pretty personal. And it's not just — we talked about this, it's all 11 guys. Obviously we talk about the O-line but we talk about all 11 guys, tight ends are involved, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers getting to the right spot at the right time. So it's a collective effort."

The Colts believe they have the right players, collectively, to reverse those sack numbers by improving their communication and getting everyone on the same page. And there's heightened urgency this week with the Tennessee Titans – a team Reich said disguises its blitzes (5+ rushers) and simulated pressures (blitz looks with four rushers) incredibly well – coming to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.

"This is a league where if somebody sees something one week, they're going do it in another," center Ryan Kelly said. "Until we put a stop to it, it's going to keep bleeding.

"... We got some stuff on film that we're good at. We put out there that we can do it. Then just go out there and execute it."

Wednesday's practice report:

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