Colts vs Buccaneers: Next Day Analysis
The Indianapolis Colts won their third straight game, can they maintain this success with a backup QB long enough to make the playoffs?
We don’t overreact at Horseshoe Heroes. We’re here to give you a realistic breakdown of the Colts after each and every game.
The Colts managed to pull off another late game rally against en route to their biggest win of the season. While the Buccaneers managed to score on every drive in the first half, the Colts managed to work the clock well enough to only give them three possessions.
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In the second half, the Colts looked like a completely different team. After a rousing halftime speech from defensive end Kendall Langford, the defense shutout the Bucs and even managed to set the offense up for success.
Matt Hasselbeck continues to play well enough for the Colts to win, but don’t pretend there is anything resembling a quarterback controversy. Hasselbeck had a few mistakes on Sunday (mismanaged the clock, missed a few open receivers, and for some reason tried to scramble a couple times) but overall he’s done enough to take the Colts to 4-0 while under center.
The longer the Colts keep winning with Hasselbeck, the longer Andrew Luck can recuperate on the sidelines. They don’t want to rush Luck back and see him get re-injured (similar to Tony Romo). Hopefully Luck has learned from his mistakes this season and can carry the Colts into the playoffs with a little momentum (or whatever you want to call it).
Here’s what stood out from Sunday:
- Too much running. 27 yards, 26 carries. That is in the running for the worst rushing performance in Colts history. Rob Chudzinski continually insisted in slamming the backs into a reworked offensive line and the results never changed. Luckily in the second half the Colts started passing the ball more, and shocker, managed to win the game. Most opponents have zero respect for the Colts run game, and are generally rewarded for not specifically attacking it. Run to win is an antiquated notion and that showed yesterday.
- Frank Gore has played well in Indy, but the blocking really wasn’t there on Sunday. The few times Gore looked like he would have space, a Bucs defender would manage to get a shoestring tackle and it was clearly frustrating him. I don’t buy that Gore has run out of gas, merely that the Colts have face two teams who are solid against the run and Chudzinski’s play calling. The Colts are best when running out of a singleback spread formation, instead of keeping tight ends in to block and bunching up.
- Dynamic Duo. Before the season began, the biggest strength of the Colts roster appeared to be the receiving corps, and while parts of that unit haven’t lived up to the hype (looking at you, Andre) the future looks bright. Donte Moncrief is getting better every week, hauling in eight of his nine targets. T.Y. Hilton is well on his way third straight 1,000 yard season. Both are special players, and are continuing a tradition of outstanding receivers in Indianapolis.
- Adjustments. We’ve bashed the defense a lot over the past few years, but the fact that this team never quits and generally plays better in the second half is impressive. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky changed up the game plan in the second half, blitzing more and getting Jameis Winston off his spot. As is generally the case with rookie QBs, he couldn’t handle the extra pressure. All of the come from behind wins over the past few years wouldn’t have been possible without defensive adjustments.
- Ageless. It seems like every week we are praising Adam Vinatieri and marveling at how he hasn’t aged. He’s kicking so well that there isn’t even a question of whether or not he’ll hit the attempt, merely how perfectly the ball will be placed between the goal posts. We can forgive the missed extra point (it was a bad snap with the laces in). The reason Vinatieri can play at such a high level at 42? He doesn’t have to do kickoffs. Pat McAfee gets that pleasure (and just so happens to be amazing at it) and it allows Vinatieri to avoid injury and just train for hitting field goals.
The Colts managed to stay a step ahead of the red hot Texans over the past few weeks. Up next, they’ll have to travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. The good news is there is a chance the Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger who has a concussion and is in the protocol. We shouldn’t have to remind you about last year’s debacle where he put in the best performance by a quarterback in history.
The Colts are doing more than just treading water until Luck returns. The Texans are at Buffalo, home against the Patriots, and then in Indianapolis. The Colts have the aforementioned game against the Steelers, and then are at Jacksonville before the clash in Indy. It’s likely that both teams will go 1-1 before the showdown which will likely decide the division.