The Colts started off the game in a bad place. Three consecutive three and outs with the last one ending in a blocked punt that luckily went out of the end zone for a safety. The fourth drive looked like more of the same with the Colts barely gaining any yards until the play that changed the game, the 73 yard bomb to T.Y. Hilton. That play gave the Colts and their fans optimism because, let’s be honest, we were all in a bad place before that happened.
While the Colts ended up pulling out a hard fought win, there are still several issues to address, offensively, defensively, and on special teams. The team is obviously improving, and has vastly improved since the Miami game, but there is still work to do.
Offensively, the Colts must find a way to shore up their offensive line. The Colts arguably have the best tandem of skill position players in the league, especially now that Julio Jones may be out for the season. However, their offensive line play has been quite literally offensive. Luck is still getting hit and pressured far too often. The right guard position has been a practical sieve for defenses, which opposing coaches are exploiting in both passing and running downs. An unexpected bright spot though, after reviewing the game film, happened to be none other than Trent Richardson. His overall average on the day was just above 3.1 yards, but in the second half he had 12 rushes for 52 yards, or a 4.5 average. That is still with the frustrating play at the right guard position.
Defensively, the Colts have to be better disciplined defenders. Holding Marshawn Lynch to 102 yards is respectable. All too often players, especially LBs, gambled in the game and did not stick with their assignments, allowing for Russell Wilson to rack up the same yardage rushing as Lynch, that’s unacceptable and goes to how the LBs are being coached. The Colts plugged in several young players to fill key roles, which likely led to some mental mistakes. One player that still has left me scratching my head is Erik Walden. Most of the time he’s in the right position and sets his edge, like he was brought in to do, however, there are multiple occasions in every game where he doesn’t do the one thing he was brought in to do, set the edge. It seemed like every time there was a big gain on the ground, it was because Walden didn’t set the edge. He must fix that problem and prove Grigson and Pagano right for supporting him.
Special teams wise, the Colts still have two phenomenal kickers in McAfee and Vinatieri, however, the returning, blocking and tackling on Special Teams leaves something to be desired. Admittedly, the tackling is much better than in years past. I’m still a little shocked that David Reed is still on the Colts roster at this point. He’s done nothing defensively, and was brought in for his return skills from Baltimore. Personally, I think his relationship with Pagano has been his only saving grace because as a returner, he’s been bad. As in not a lot of yards, fumbles, and injury concerns, basically everything that gets a returner cut. Blocking wise, there are some concerns but the Seahawks are an extraordinarily talented team in all facets of the game, so I chalk that up to being less talented. In general this season, McAfee and Vinatieri have had plenty of time to do their jobs. But as with the offensive line, there are some concerns in the middle. The blocked punt was a result of pressure up the middle, same as what happens to Luck. Once again, I feel that better talent in the guard position will solve that.
Despite all the problems the Colts had, a win is a win. This team has shown grit and a workmanlike attitude in approaching the game. The Seahawks are a phenomenal team and, after the win, the Colts sit alone at the top of the AFC South. The Colts have a legitimate shot at advancing far in the playoffs, as noted by Vegas increasing their odds from 32-1 to win the Super Bowl before the Seahawks game to 16-1 after. If they can advance, even to the divisional round of the playoffs, the trade with the Browns looks that much more like another Colts win. So as Colts fans, we have a lot to be excited about moving forward.