With a 4-2 record to start the season and a bye this week, we’ll take a look at what has happened with the Indianapolis Colts so far this season and look ahead to this coming Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
Injuries have hurt this team to an extent but they have also benefitted from a weak AFC South in which the Tennessee Titans are the only legitimate contender.
Colts Offense Still A Work In Progress
We’ve seen good and bad from Philip Rivers this season. On the one hand, he was terrific in a win against the Bengals in Week 6, but on the other hand, he continues to throw interceptions that hurt Indianapolis on the field.
He currently sits with seven touchdowns to six interceptions, a 69.7 percent completion rate, and close to 1600 passing yards. In the Colts’ wins against the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets though he threw zero picks.
Rivers will continue to run the offense but Indianapolis will have to find a way to get the ball moving on the ground. We know that the loss of Marlon Mack early in the season hurts the Colts, but it also opened up an opportunity for Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor so far is averaging 4.1 yard per carry on 89 carries, but that’s been steadily rising: 4.0 at Chicago, 4.8 at Cleveland, 5.0 against Cincinnati. Taylor has also caught 16 passes for 162 yards and three catch-and-runs of at least 20 yards.
Indianapolis finished 7th with their run game in the NFL a year ago, but they’re 28th in yards per game (98.0) and 32nd in yards per attempt (3.6) this season.
With Marcus Johnson (nine catches, 188 yards, 20.9 YPR) now being seen as a deep threat, this gives the Colts another offensive option.
Rivers had a 92.0 passer rating from 2007 to 2016 on throws 20 yards or more down the field. Rivers completed 9 of his 13 passes 10-plus yards down field for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the Colts game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Injuries Have Also Been A Factor
The Colts have been decimated by injuries, Marlon Mack being the biggest one right out of the gate.
Week Two saw Parris Campbell injured against the Minnesota Vikings. He took a blow to his left knee. Safety Malik Hooker also suffered an injury to his Achilles that is a torn tendon. He is gone for the season.
A 2019 second-round pick, Campbell had four injuries last season and three surgeries. He is out indefinitely.
Indianapolis also ran into COVID-19, but four test results that were thought to be positive were false positives. The team closed its practice facility briefly but reopened it when the negative results came in.
The NFL’s website has a complete list of the Colts’ injuries (click here to read) and when each player is expected back.
Defense Has Been The Colts’ Saving Grace
The Colts defense has caught many by surprise this season with ranking first in both yards per play allowed (4.4) and expected points added allowed per play (-0.14) after Week Four.
In Weeks Five and Six they’ve been one defense in the first half and another in the second. They gave up 24 points to the Cincinnati Bengals and 20 to the Cleveland Browns in the first two quarters before allowing each team a mere field goal in the final two periods.
One reason is the fact that Darius Leonard has been out the last two weeks. Leonard had been a monster in previous weeks, particularly against a weak New York Jets team where he registered 10 total tackles.
Miscommunication has also cost the Colts points as well. Case and point is the Colts’ most recent game against the Bengals.
Rock Ya-Sin miscued on wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter of the Bengals game and Higgins easily went around him. This allowed Joe Burrow to make a fantastic throw over Ya-Sin’s head for a 67-yard gain.
Week 8 Preview, Colts vs. the Detroit Lions
The Colts present a tough challenge for a 3-3 Detroit team who recently beat the lowly Atlanta Falcons and the Colts’ AFC South doormat division mates, the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Lions pass offense ranks 17th vs. a Colts pass defense that’s fourth. The Lions run offense is 18th vs. a Colts run defense that is fifth.
The Colts will have to contend with Matthew Stafford and his connection with Danny Amendola, while the Lions 23rd ranked run defense should be on the lookout for an improving Jonathan Taylor.
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