Colts: Week 9 performance proved secondary needs an offseason overhaul
By Jerry Trotta
On Thursday night, the Indianapolis Colts did exactly what a good team should do just days after it endured a gutting overtime loss to a division rival: embarrass an inferior opponent in front of your home fans.
Though the scoreline suggested the Colts-Jets midweek clash was competitive, Indy established a 42-10 lead midway through the third quarter after Jonathan Taylor broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run.
It was the type of performance you’d expect from the Colts’ offense, which has posted over 30 points in four straight games.
As for the defense — specifically the secondary — it was a night to forget.
When the dust settled, the Josh Johnson-led Jets posted 30 (!) points and racked up 486 total yards of offense. Victory aside, this was en embarrassing performance from the secondary, which desperately needs an overhaul in the offseason.
The Colts’ need to overhaul their secondary in the offseason.
Where do we even start? Let’s not forget that the Jets were driving on their final possession and looked poised to add another touchdown. Luckily for the Colts, Johnson’s intended pass for Keelan Cole was tipped and landed in the welcoming arms of Bobby Okereke, allowing Indy to line up in victory formation.
Mike White left injured in the second quarter, but not before he went 7-of-11 for 95 yards and a touchdown (121.4 passer rating). Then, Johnson, who hadn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2018, came in and shredded the Colts’ secondary to the tune of a 65.7% completion percentage, 317 yards and three TDs.
Xavier Rhodes was one of the main culprits on the night. After a promising 2020, the veteran corner has regressed to the mistake-prone player he was during his final years with the Vikings. Playing on another one-year deal, you have to think the Colts will cut their losses and move on in the offseason.
As far as the CB position is concerned, Kenny Moore is currently the only player at the position who should be back in 2022. Rock Ya-Sin, who’s impressed in six games, could join Moore, but we still need to see a little more (no pun intended) from him after his disaster sophomore campaign last year.
Now, we get to the safety position, which is an atrocity for Indy right now. Julian Blackmon is done for the year with a torn Achilles and Khari Willis, who wasn’t performing great to begin with, landed on IR hours before kickoff, forcing George Odum, a lifetime special-teamer and Andrew Sendejo into the starting lineup.
While Chris Ballard could’ve done better to add more insurance, most teams wouldn’t be able to overcome injuries to both of their starting safeties. Having said that, given Blackmon’s injury history and Willis’ inconsistencies — he has the fourth-worst coverage amongst all safeties this season, according to PFF — we would like to see a couple new faces signed in the offseason.
We hate to dampen the mood after a big primetime win, but better for Ballard to realize now that his secondary personnel isn’t cutting it, right? We’ve felt this way the entire year, but a 45-10 win would’ve hidden the problem.
Instead, the Colts’ secondary allowed the Jets’ third-string quarterback to cook them for 30 points and nearly 500 yards on a national stage. If that didn’t send a message to Ballard that change is necessary, nothing will.