Week 1 is over for the Indianapolis Colts, as they took a 31-21 loss in the home opener against Jacksonsville. The opening week losing streak continues as the Colts have not won their opener in a decade now. We saw some good and we saw some bad this week but it’s time to break it all down.
Naturally, we entered the season with expectations, but things don’t always go as expected. Let's look at some expectations the Colts had entering Week 1, and how they compared to wha actually happened in reality.
Expectation: Running back by committee (led by Deon Jackson)
Reality: Colts miss Jonathan Taylor
Head coach Shane Steichen said the Colts backfield would be a committee and playing the hot hand. Deon Jackson got the start and was terrible from the beginning, finishing with 13 carries for 14 yards and two lost fumbles. Evan Hull was never a factor and left with a knee injury and Jake Funk saw action in the fourth quarter and looked much better than Jackson in just two carries.
Quarterback Anthony Richardson lead the team with 40 yards on the ground. ESPN has reported that Taylor is expected to be back Week 5 after he passes a physical. Taylor has suddenly gained some leverage on Indianapolis but will it be enough to garner him a long term deal next season or is the ship already sailed on the relationship?
Expectation: Anthony Richardson would struggle to break 60% completion rate
Reality: Richardson Completed 64%
We discussed in my bold predictions article that Richardson would need to increase his completion rate to over 60% from his under 60% he had at Florida. Anthony Richardson did just that by completing 24-of-37 passes for a 64% completion rate. Not only was this a great first step towards his development, it should also be great for his confidence.
Outside of his interception late in the game that started the Colts fourth-quarter implosion, Richardson was poised and confident for most of the game. He seems to have a great grasp of the playbook and where the receivers were in their routes. He appears to be further along in his development than we all expected him to be and was an impressive debut.
Expectation: Shane Steichen would be conservative
Reality: Steichen trusts his players and was aggressive
We saw the play calling for Indy start very conservative and get more aggressive as the game went on. If fans thought the Frank Reich style of going for it on fourth down was over, they were mistaken. Steichen chose to go for it on fourth five times, and was successful only once. Steichen’s aggressive play calling was, of course, analytic based but it also shows some confidence in his offense (and quarterback) to execute the plan. Whether he sticks with this plan going forward will be something to watch but I think he will to keep the trust level high within the locker room.
Expectation: The youth movement will hinder the team
Reality: The Colts are ahead of schedule
The Colts are one of the only teams without a single player over the age of 30. This was expected to really put them on a rebuild process but it appears to be a retool process. While it wasn’t perfect, the youth played well. Do the Colts need to clean up some aspects of their coverage? Absolutely. They could not stop Calvin Ridley and that really showed with Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. getting their first career starts.
On offense, Josh Downs was second in targets amongst wide receivers with seven and hauled in three catches for 30 yards. Obviously, as mentioned, quarterback Anthony Richardson was better than expected in his debut and really tried put the team on his back before taking a hard hit at the end of the game and was replaced by Gardner Minshew.
Expectation: Captains and veterans keep the games close
Reality: They did exactly that
We saw the Colts veterans and captains keep them in the game and with an opportunity to win the game until Indy imploded in the fourth quarter. We saw defensive captain Zaire Franklin lead the team with 18 total tackles and was involved in the most awkward defensive touchdown you will ever see. Defensive captain DeForest Buckner did score the touchdown on the awkward touchdown that Franklin started. Linebacker Shaquille Leonard cleared concussion protocol and gave the defense a boost. Richardson led the offense to a better than expected performance and will (hopefully) only continue to improve.