Certain players had a lackluster start for the Indianapolis Colts, they need to step up for the team to find success in Week 2.
Which Colts Need to Step Up?
A tie to start the season was not a part of the plan for the Indianapolis Colts, but they have a chance to right the ship down in Jacksonville. Indianapolis has not won there since beating the Jaguars on September 21st, 2014. This must change this week. The Colts can keep themselves undefeated, but they need to fix a ton of mistakes from Week 1 for this to be possible.
Braden Smith Must Protect Matt Ryan
An easy place to start is the protection of Matt Ryan. If your quarterback is constantly worried about pressure it may cause some mental mistakes. To help Ryan shake his new team nerves, right tackle Braden Smith has to step up, and return to his Pro Bowl form.
Smith will be tasked with slowing down dynamic pass rushers, in Josh Allen (41) and Travon Walker (44). Both are listed at outside linebacker. Smith will be matched up with Allen for most of the pass blocking snaps. This may be a problem for the Colts.
Allen finished his 2021 season with eight sacks and 50 total quarterback pressures. Along with his ability to pressure the QB Allen excels at stopping a play in it’s tracks. Pro Football Focus calculates a stat, simply called “stops”. This stat represents a play when the defender tackles the ball carrier or pass catcher within two yards past the line of scrimmage, or behind it. In 2021 Allen had 35 of these plays, these stops may be a killer for the Colts’ offense in Week 2.
For the Colts offense to find any kind of rhythm, Smith will need to fix his mistakes detailed below.
— Not Zach’s Burner (@NotZachsBurner1) September 13, 2022
Pressuring Trevor Lawrence Will Be Key To a Colts Victory
As important as it is to protect your quarterback, the same can be said when it comes to pressuring the opposing QB. Jacksonville’s offensive line did not hold up well to the pass rush of the Washington Commanders. All but one of the starters on the line allowed multiple pressures in this game. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor was the lone starter to keep a clean sheet.
This means, the Colts defensive ends could really step up their production in Sunday’s contest. Jacksonville’s center and left guard, Luke Fortner and Ben Bartch, showed difficulties in dealing with movement or “stunts”.
In Week 1, the Colts and Gus Bradley, did not implement much movement up front. But Bradley did blitz at a more frequent rate than he has in four seasons.
Thought during yesterday's game, huh, the Colts are blitzing a lot.
Per PFF, the Colts blitzed 15 times against Houston. EJ Speed got a strip sack on one.
Those 15 blitzes are the most Gus Bradley's called in a game since Week 2 of the 2018 season with the Chargers.
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 12, 2022
This displays Bradley’s willingness to call whatever play it takes to create the pressure that is necessary to win in today’s NFL. And I’m sure he’s ready to take advantage of the inabilities of the Jaguars line.
The Colts Made Big Mistakes In Coverage In Week 1
Kenny Moore II and Julian Blackmon need to have a bounce back game, when it comes to their coverage responsibilities. Both players are figuring out a new scheme. With time and communication amongst the defense, these two players should find a return to their previous high production.
The blame may also be on linebackers E.J. Speed, Zaire Franklin and Bobby Okereke. Looking at the film from both of the touchdowns allowed, the linebackers made some terrible mistakes. These miscues are highlighted in the clip below.
— Not Zach’s Burner (@NotZachsBurner1) September 13, 2022
All three linebackers showed some poor communication skills on this play. This may be fixed with the return of Shaquille Leonard, but we must remember he has not had any practice time in this new defense. The middle of the field must be closed off on Sunday in Jacksonville.
The Colts Can Step Up Production as a Team
Lawrence loves to go to his right, and when he goes there he does it quickly. He likes to target a player coming out of the backfield, like on a screen. Or he throws a quick slant to the receiver lined up on the far right side. He was 7/7 for 48 yards with one touchdown when throwing to the short-right section of the field. The defense should have an enhanced emphasis on taking away this part of the field.
While still a little inaccurate Lawrence has the ability and confidence to take shots deep down the field. His inaccuracy and over confidence could be things Julian Blackmon can take advantage of, to have a bounce back game. There were miscues in the Jaguars first game and will probably continue in the second, with all the change in that organization. These miscues must be capitalized on.
Just something that stuck out to me while watching the Jaguars- Commanders game, when the Jacksonville OC feels his blocking start to fail, the team will look for a quick slant across the middle to Zay Jones, something to keep in mind.
In Week 1 the big plays came when the Washington Commanders were able hold Jacksonville’s blitz at bay. This emphasizes the importance of pass protection for the Colts defense. One thing the Jaguars defense does well is sniffing out a screen type pass. That being said, it will be much easier to attack in the middle of the field in the intermediate range, when they do blitz.
The Colts offense should attack matchups featuring strong safety Rayshawn Jenkins (2) and cornerback Shaquille Griffin (26) on the outside. Jenkins and Griffin allowed nine receptions and 138 total yards between them. Griffin allowed two of Carson Wentz’s four touchdowns in Week 1. This soft spot in coverage could be great for some struggling Colts receivers.
The Jags are solid at rallying to the ball, so the pass catchers need to find the soft spots of the defense. When they show a five man rush on run plays, Ryan can take advantage of the weak secondary. If he checks into a max protection RPO play he can get free safety Andre Cisco (5) and Jenkins to bite. These two can struggle over the top, so putting them at a disadvantage could open up huge shots for speedsters Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, and Ashton Dulin.
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