What can we really say about Sunday’s game? The Indianapolis Colts are the best team in the AFC South, but have some concerns. The Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, are pretty bad at football.
Regardless of the opponent, the Colts still notched a much needed win. Even before Sunday rolled around, we saw the winless Oakland Raiders taken down the surging Kansas City Chiefs.
The Colts sit at 7-4 with a firm two game lead in the division. They are currently the fourth seed (behind the 7-3-1 Bengals, although I don’t think you should be rewarded for a tie) and would host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs (gulp!).
I’ve been in the camp of thinking that the Jaguars were trending in the right direction, but its not really looking that way. They have the pieces to be dangerous on offense, but are still performing like Blaine Gabbert is their quarterback. Blake Bortles has shown flashes, but simply isn’t very good right now.
Here’s what stood out from Sunday:
- Line Woes. The offensive line is a mess. Scratch that, the RIGHT side of the line is a mess. The Colts gave up four sacks in the first quarter and struggled for most of the game to protect Andrew Luck. It led to him making some horrible decisions that resulted in a couple of early fumbles. It was a cascade effect: blown blocks, unnecessary pressure, Luck forcing a play, and coughing up the ball.
- Hugh Thornton has had a rough season. He had the worst grade on offense with a -2.9 per Pro Football Focus. A.Q. Shipley had to fill in at right guard as Thornton went out with an injury and played very well. It raises the question as to why Shipley isn’t playing at all.
- Joe Reitz struggled early, but eventually settled down as the game progressed. He was filling in at right tackle for Gosder Cherilus, who has been pretty awful all year.
- Speaking of Luck. On the insane scale that we grade him on, he was pretty bad Sunay. Except for that one time he ran one way and threw the other for a big gain. Or the dime pass between a cluster of defenders on third down to T.Y. Hilton. Or the bomb to Hilton for a touchdown. The two early fumbles are inexcusable though. Luck held the ball for far too long on the first one, and the second time he tried to make something out of nothing. He got a lucky bounce with a third, and a fourth was credited to him but should be on Dan Herron for not catching a toss.
- Herron Should Start. Fumbles aside, Herron should be starting over Trent Richardson. He runs just as hard as Ahmad Bradshaw did and gives the Colts an explosive player out of the backfield. His first fumble was unlucky, but a little more ball security (which is easily taught) and it doesn’t happen. The dropped toss was a product of bad blocking coupled with this being his first start. Clean up the little things, and he slips into the same role as Donald Brown last season.
- Also, Richardson owes linebacker Andrew Jackson a steak for the block that led to a touchdown. Jackson sealed and gave Richardson a nice cutback lane for the Colts first TD of the day.
- Emotional Hilton. After being quiet for most of the game, largely due to Luck not having any time to look down field, Hilton had a few big plays in the second half. His touchdown celebration was touching (lets hope the NFL has some sense and doesn’t fine him for using the ball as a prop) and his emotional interview following the game was heartwrenching. Congratulations to him on the birth of his daughter.
- Defensive Rebound. After being smacked around a week ago, the Colts got the perfect opponent to find their defensive confidence against. A pair of turnovers and holding the Jags under 200 total yards is impressive regardless of the opponent. The defense never wavered even as the offense continued to put them in tough spots. They also get credit for not giving up a garbage time touchdown.
- More Moncrief. We are finally starting to see Moncrief on the field more than
DHBHakeem Nicks. Moncrief had 30 snaps to Nicks’ 28 (according to PFF). Four receptions for 38 yards isn’t great, but with the entire offense struggling he made some good plays. We need to see more of him as the Colts start thinking about the playoffs.
- Mr. Wayne? There might be something wrong with Reggie Wayne. He’s struggled this season, with is understandable after coming back from a torn ACL this late in his career. The Colts kept his arbitrary streak of games with three catches or more alive, but it was forced. He also didn’t stick around for interviews following the game. Honestly, it wouldn’t be surprising if he were to retire at the end of the season (not that I want him to).
- 4th Down Army. Special teams got better with the addition of Josh Cribbs. Turning a botched punt into a touchdown is impressive, even though it was called back due to a penalty. Cribbs is an unreal athlete and his ability to find lanes in the return game will be an asset going forward.