The Indianapolis Colts got down early 23-0 and a valiant comeback fell short as Indy loss by the final of 29-23 in overtime to the Los AngelesRams. The Colts came out flat with a poor effort and a bad opening drive penalty. They also had no answer for rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua and they allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to pick them apart. Let’s look at the good and the bad from the Week 4 loss.
The good from the Colts in Week 4
Are we beginning to see a pattern here? Don’t let the poor box score numbers sour you. After Anthony Richardson came out flat in the first half, he had a terrific second half. He finished 11-of-25 for 200 yards but also had 56 yards on the ground and nearly led the team in rushing. He also had three total touchdowns. The most important aspect of his growth was his ability to not only lead the comeback from 23-0 but he finished the game from start to finish for the first time this year.
Richardson was running around a lot, but the line was down multiple starters with Wesley French getting the start at center and rookie Blake Freeland getting the start at left tackle for Bernhard Raimann, who entered concussion protocol at the end of last week. Richardson continues to show his poise and fearlessness when running and executing the offense. His ability to run and extend plays is a new wrinkle that Indianapolis has not seen since Andrew Luck. He still needs to increase his completion percentage but overall, Richardson continues to keep Indy relevant so far this year and his development is encouraging.
I have been Dayo Odeyingbo’s biggest critic this season but he was nothing short of spectacular in Week 4. With DeForest Buckner limited in the game, Dayo made the most of this opportunity. He finished with a season’s best seven tackles, along with four hurries, 1.5 sacks, one pass deflection and one forced fumble. He was disruptive and kept up the pressure on Stafford all day long. Yes, Stafford was dragging himself across the field by the end of the game, but regardless, Odeyingbo finally showed the fans the potential that Chris Ballard saw when he drafted Dayo in the second round of the 2021 Draft.
Tight end play
Everybody got in on the action with the tight ends. Drew Ogletree led the room with three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Veteran Mo Alie-Cox caught his first touchdown of the season and Kylen Granson also contributed with two catches and nearly caught a touchdown as he came up short in the second half. Other pass catchers seemed to be non-existent on Sunday with the sticky coverage from the Rams’ secondary. The Colts will have some decisions to make come Monday, as tight end Jelani Woods is eligible to come off of injured reserve.
The bad from the Colts in Week 4
Overall defensive effort
After seeing growth each week from the defense, we saw some regression this week from the unit, especially in the secondary. The Colts were unable to slow down Rams’ starting wide receiver Puka Nacua. He continued his historic pace with nine catches for 163 yards and made the game-winning touchdown catch in overtime. Tyler Higbee and TuTu Atwell each had productive games as well.
Stafford was able to pick apart the secondary. The Colts only got two total sacks on Stafford as well, as the opposition’s O-Line played very well, along with a breakout game for running back Kyren Williams. All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner only played on third downs, and it showed as the Rams feasted on early down plays.
Shaquille Leonard’s slow start to the season continues as he was, again, a non-factor on gameday. He finished with three tackles, and also played limited snaps. Through three games, he has 21 tackles and zero game-changing plays. He was also left on the sidelines in key moments in the second half and it bears the question if he is truly healthy. It appears that the answer is firmly No.
Don’t forget that the organization has an out in his contract after this season and he shares an agent with Jonathan Taylor. Could they be holding him out because he is injured, or do they want a reason to get out of the contract? Leonard needs to start producing or uncomfortable conversations will need to be had pertaining to his contract as the other linebackers are outplaying him this season.
Coaching and penalties
We saw the Colts have the penalty issues in Week 1 against Jacksonville and the issue returned this week as well. Colts had eight penalties for 80 yards. The opening drive late-hit penalty (on 3rd down) by EJ Speed kept a drive going that eventually led to a touchdown. Kenny Moore II had a drive extending pass interference as well. The Rams also had some penalties as well, but the Speed penalty was devastating.
There was also some suspect play calling and the defensive game plan (especially in overtime) left much to be desired. Shane Steichen doesn’t believe in undisciplined football, so I fully expect this to be cleaned up next week as the Colts welcome division rival Tennessee to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.