The Indianapolis Colts stole a win away from the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. It certainly wasn’t a pretty game but the Colts will take a win any way they can get them. They are now 1-1-1 on the season and 1-0 at home. Also, they are 2-1 against Patrick Mahomes. Not many teams can claim to have a winning record against him.
Most importantly, they are tied for first in the AFC South. God bless this division in the NFL. The offense still needs a lot of work, but this unit made the plays it had to when it mattered most. Well, most of the plays when it mattered most we’ll talk more about this a bit later. Let’s get to some of the instant reactions from Indianapolis’ 20-17 win over the Chiefs.
Chris Ballard’s highest-paid unit doesn’t look worth the money
Over the last two weeks, 37-year-old Matt Ryan has been sacked 10 times. He’s been hit a total of 21 times. The offensive line for the Indianapolis Colts is the highest-paid line in the NFL. So far this season, they look like the best hustlers in the world.
It’s great that general managr Chris Ballard believes in his players. The guys he drafts and signs in free agency or off of waivers. However, the truth is that belief can blind him to the truth. And so far, his self-evaluation is abysmal. Matt Pryor looks to be severely overmatched in pass protection. Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Braden Smith — the one’s making the biggest bucks — look to be satisfied and possibly no longer have that hunger that did before getting the bag.
Danny Pinter looks like he’s a backup lineman, probably better utilized at the center position. You can expect that once Bernhard Raimann gets healthy, the starters on the offensive line will be changed. Raimann will start at left tackle, Pryor at right guard, and Pinter on the bench. Matt Ryan needs better protection and Jonathan Taylor needs better run blocking. So far, neither is getting that.
Reasonably expect this kind of weekly performance from Jonathan Taylor
Speaking of Mr. Taylor, if the blocking from the offensive line doesn’t improve, you can expect these kinds of days and stats from him on a weekly basis. Against Kansas City, Taylor rushed 21 times for 71 scoreless yards, averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
You would like to see that YPC be at least four. He also chipped in three catches for 20-yards. Overall, this isn’t a bad day for an average NFL running back. Taylor just isn’t an average or above-average running back, he’s an elite back. A player capable of literally carrying an offense on his back.
Unfortunately, every NFL team knows this and knows that Michael Pittman Jr. is the only threat in the passing game. Teams will continue to load the box and dare the Colts to beat them via the pass. To date, that appears to be a winning formula.
Indianapolis Colts find a way to limit Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is regarded as the best young QB in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are part of the old regime of elite signal callers. The generation of elite quarterbacks is led by Mahomes. He can make some of the most incredible throws in the game and make them look easy and effortless.
You see more QBs copying Mahomes’ game. With that being said, the Indianapolis defense did well against him this week. He only completed 57% of passes, was sacked one time, hit 10 times and intercepted once. If that wasn’t, enough he led his team in rushing with 26 yards on the ground.
Yannick Ngakoue was the one who got the lone sack on Mahomes. In doing so, Ngakoue got into Orlando Brown Jr.’s head and caused Brown to get a few false starts. Grover Stewart continues to be the best defensive lineman on a consistent basis. Zaire Franklin had the best game of his career with 12 total tackles, eight solos, one tackle for loss, pass deflection and a QB hit.
Bobby Okereke made a huge play on the fake field goal attempt. And we can’t go on without talking about the biggest play of the game. Stephon Gilmore’s pass break up that led to Rodney McLeod’s game-sealing interception. The Colts’ defense has a slight edge over the offense in regards to which unit has been better this season.
Some youths showing a glimpse of the future
Rookies Alec Pierce and Jelani Woods had the first catches of their careers. Woods’ first catch was a touchdown and he also had the game-winner for his second career catch. Talk about impressive firsts. One can only imagine what he’ll be able to do once he gets up to NFL speed.
Pierce finished this game tied for third on the team in targets (five) and catches (three). He finished second on the team in receiving yards with 61. It’s very possible that one of his drops would have gone for a touchdown if he made the catch. Regardless, both of these players highlighted exactly why Ballard and the Colts selected them in the draft.
Their futures look bright and if they continue to make progress and get better, this offense could be scary dynamic. Enough to the point where it won’t have to solely rely on the JT and MPJ to win them games. The Colts will host the Tennessee Titans, who are also coming off their first win on the season, next week. This game could very well determine who will be moving on to win the AFC South and who will be looking to the 2023 NFL Draft.