It’s officially not a fluke; the Indianapolis Colts are firmly in the AFC playoff race after moving to 6-5 with a 27-20 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Colts were far from perfect on Sunday but showed encouraging signs coming off the bye week. Let’s dive more into this week’s game and take a look at the good and bad from the Week 12 win.
The good from Colts win over Buccaneers
Colts Pass Rush
The often-inconsistent pass rush this year is starting to find some consistency in the past couple of games. Last game was Dayo Odeyingbo and this week it was the offseason signee Samson Ebukam. He had his first multi-sack game of the season and is finally showing off the talent that brought the franchise to sign him this offseason.
While Ebukam made the game-closing strip sack to seal the victory, we saw five other defensive players record at least half a sack. This type of consistency will need to continue heading into the playoff push if the Colts want any chance of making a wild card appearance.
Jonathan Taylor and the run game
Jonathan Taylor is beginning to peak at the right time. What really stood out on Sunday was his patience in the running game. We didn’t see those quick bursts; we saw him wait for the blocks and let the play develop. He finished with 15 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Zack Moss was able to complement Taylor this week with a solid eight carries for 55 yards. Look for this split to continue going forward as this looks like the most productive use of each players talents.
The creativity of Shane Steichen
The past few games we saw some regression from the offense after a start where the Colts were consistently scoring over 20 points every week. Regardless of the causes, things were just starting to get stale and it appeared that the bye week was exactly what Indianapolis needed. We saw some serious creativity out of Shane Steichen’s play calling on Sunday, especially on 4th down, where the Colts converted 3 out of 4.
We saw the creativity with RPOs, but the most creative moment came when Zaire Franklin was used as a decoy on a 4th down where Mo Alie-Cox was wide open to get them an easy first down to keep the drive alive. Steichen’s preparation, attention to detail, and ability to adapt and change offensively is proving to be quite a change from the Frank Reich era.
The Bad from Colts win over Buccaneers
All things considered this season, Jaylon Jones has been off to a great start for a seventh-round rookie draft pick. This week, he had the monumental task of covering the All-Pro wide receiver Mike Evans. This was by far Jones’ most difficult task so far this season. He struggled, allowing Evans to have six catches on nine targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
There were some miscommunications on the field with Jones as well and this was his first real step into a CB1 role and Evans got the best of him. The level of worry with this is low, as Jones is a rookie, and this type of game will only help him in the long run and he will continue to be the CB1 until fellow rookie JuJu Brents returns.
While the creativity returned this week, the consistency did not. The opening drives were terrific in the first quarter, and we saw the game plan get back to that in the fourth quarter as well. The mid-game offense seemed stagnant, and while there was the momentum killing interception from Minshew, it just seemed that the Bucs defense just kind of figured out the plan and the Todd Bowles defense was able to stop Indy from really closing out the game earlier than the Colts would have liked to. We also saw Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs control the receiving game and they were unable to get other players involved, which might be needed against stiffer competition.
The Colts get back on the road next week against a divisional foe, as they look to continue their surprising playoff push against a Tennessee Titans team with little to play for.