Week 3 in the books! Colts get their first win of the season and move to 1-1-1 by the final score of 20-17. The importance of this win cannot be stressed enough. In past posts, I have stressed that Indianapolis always plays up or down to the level of their opponent. One could argue that Kansas City has been the most impressive team so far in this young season. While the offense sputtered this week, the defense showed up in a big way. They held the Chiefs to under 20 points, 3 of 10 on third down, and most importantly, didn’t allow any points in the final 4 offensive drives. The Chiefs special teams and the final drive Chris Jones unsportsmanlike conduct penalty also helped seal the deal for the Colts on Sunday.
Offensive Line Play Struggles Again
While the offense had their best performance of the season, it was nothing to cheer about. The first TD was a gift by Kansas City special teams’ unit as it was a muffed punt. The offensive line play was again, a cause for concern. Specifically, the interior play of the line. The Chiefs were toying with starting RG Danny Pinter all day long and didn’t allow much time for Matt Ryan to throw. A little in-depth analysis on this showed that Matt Ryan was pressured 9 times on Sunday. 6/9 of those pressures were allowed by Pinter and center Ryan Kelly.
For a team that is so dependent on the run and has the most expensive offensive line in all of football, this must be a focal point going forward. Wide receiver Pittman Jr was great, as expected. Alex Pierce welcomed himself to the NFL with a strong bounce back showing after a critical week one end-zone drop. Rookie TE Jelani Woods got his first two NFL touchdowns of his career.
This was the first great performance of the year from the defensive unit. Patrick Mahomes had a good, but not great, game this week. He was held under 300 yards passing with only 1 TD and 1 INT. Defensive line played better by holding the team rushing total under 60 yards and applied pressure on Mahomes consistently. Mahomes best strength is his ability to get the ball out quickly. His average is 2.52 seconds per throw with a QB rating of 109.1. On Sunday quick release throw percentage was 83.4. The standout of the day, however, was the secondary.
They were able to contain Mahomes and they never buckled under adversity. Starting safety Julian Blackmon and starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore both exited the game with injury only to see the replacements deliver. Gilmore did eventually return but rookie 7th rounder Rodney Thomas not only played 35 coverage snaps but swatted away a key pass over the middle (that saved a TD) away from Justin Watson. While safety Rodney McLeod made the game ending interception to seal the game. Gus Bradley’s unit really had redeemable effort this week that can hopefully continue into next week.
Special Teams Returns
The Colts have finally found a reliable kicker! After releasing Rodrigo Blankenship after Week 1, they have brought in Chase McLaughlin off the wire. He delivered this week by hitting both his field goals from 43 and 51. Kansas City’s blunders on special teams were Indy’s gifts. Kylen Granson stood out as he recovered the muffed punt in the first quarter (that setup a TD pass) and then downed the next punt at the KC 1 yard line. The unit also stopped a would-be fake punt to flip the field and allow Mahomes to stay on the bench. Meanwhile, it was the Chiefs special teams that continued to set up the Colts for success.
While it’s always great to get a win this week, there is still much work to be done. Head Coach and General Manager Chris Ballard have cooled down their once blazing hot seats after the first two weeks performances. The offensive line performance and communication must improve. Need to see more out of the pass catchers so Pittman Jr can get some help. On defense, they need to find some more schemes for continued pressure on the opponents’ quarterbacks. Indianapolis is blessed to play in the AFC South, so they are never out of it. 3 of the next 4 games are division opponents. It’s imperative that they string together some wins in October to get ahead in this weak division.
Let us know your thoughts on the Chiefs special teams in the comments below!
Main image creditEmbed from Getty Images