It’s a fast turnaround for the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) after struggling a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans (2-2) in Week 4.
They get their first prime-time recreation of the season on the highway in opposition to the Denver Broncos (2-2). These groups have solely met as soon as in the course of the Frank Reich period. The Colts received a 15-13 recreation again in 2019. Lots has modified for every franchise since then.
Indianapolis was quarterbacked by Jacoby Brissett and Denver was led by Joe Flacco. The sequence is tied at 14-14 so there are bragging rights on the road for every fanbase. Every crew is heading into this matchup with plenty of query marks and what their future appears like so I count on it will likely be a battle to the top.
Listed below are 5 issues to control Thursday evening:
Defending Russell Wilson
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It actually hasn’t been rainbows and butterflies in Denver for Russell Wilson’s first season with the franchise. The offense has regarded shaky within the first month of the NFL season and has been removed from the firework present that individuals thought we’d see. The Broncos offense is averaging 16.5 factors per recreation, which is the third-lowest within the NFL. Not that the Colts offense has something to hold their hat on with their lowest common of 14.3 factors per recreation.
This has been a shock of the 2022 season to see the Wilson-led offense battle regardless of the weapons he has to work with. The Denver quarterback is averaging 245.0 passing yards per recreation and has 4 touchdowns and an interception in 4 video games. His 61.1% completion proportion and 91.1 passer ranking could be career-low if he doesn’t enhance these numbers.
One factor that caught out to me is that Wilson isn’t operating as a lot as he has up to now. He’s averaging 12.9 speeding yards per recreation and solely averaged 13.1 speeding yards per recreation final season. In 2019, he averaged 32.1 speeding YPG. He shouldn’t need to run typically however his mobility is what made him so nice all through his profession.
There will probably be far more on his plate in opposition to Indianapolis on Thursday evening. Their up-and-coming operating again, Javonte Williams, is out for the season so the Broncos will probably be working with Melvin Gordon, Mike Boone, and Latavius Murray going ahead. Wilson might want to enhance his play to assist set up an id to their offense with the Colts in his sights to get it on monitor.
Regardless of his struggles, Gus Bradley and the protection shouldn’t take the duty calmly. Wilson is coming off his finest recreation of the season. Throwing for 237 yards, two touchdowns, and selecting up 29 yards on the bottom. It was simply over a 12 months in the past when he lit up the Colts within the 2021 season opener. In that recreation, he had 254 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The very last thing Indianapolis can afford to occur is Wilson wanting like his former self in prime time.
Is the offensive line a detriment once more?
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There are many the reason why the Colts are off to a poor begin however probably the most disappointing half has been on the offensive line. Regardless of making a change at proper guard with Will Fries taking up for Danny Pinter, the road held again the offense by means of the sport in opposition to the Titans. It began with a brutal exhibiting on the bottom recreation.
They did not open up any speeding lanes for Jonathan Taylor and simply obtained pushed round within the trenches. There may very well be a chance to get that a part of the offense going in opposition to the Broncos. They’re giving up 114.0 speeding yards, which is the fifteenth highest within the NFL. However, that in fact will probably be depending on his well being of Taylor and if he is ready to swimsuit up.
Even when he does play, he’ll possible be lower than 100% in order that places extra stress on Matt Ryan so go safety will probably be wanted to be as much as par on Thursday evening. There have been stretches at occasions the place Ryan had time to make throws in opposition to Tennessee however the remaining leaky holes did pop up and killed Colts drives.
It confirmed on the primary drive when Quenton Nelson obtained straight-up beat by Denico Autry.
Then the problem of failing to choose up stunts ended the offense’s closing drive of the sport.
The longer these issues are persistent the extra the Colts will proceed to place themselves in thrid-and-long conditions and put their protection in a poor subject place. There may be loads to work out throughout the offense however I’ll stay adamant that till the offensive line begins stacking up clear video games then this unit will flounder all through the remainder of the 12 months.
It received’t get any simpler in opposition to the Broncos’ defensive entrance that options Bradley Chubb and Dre’Mont Jones. Randy Gregory was just lately positioned on IR so that’s one much less fear for Frank Reich and his offense.
The expansion of the defensive entrance
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It was an terrible efficiency within the first half of the Titans recreation for all the protection however they responded strongly within the second half. Six of the final eight quarters have been spectacular for the entrance 4 of Gus Bradley’s unit. If you happen to take away the manufacturing on the bottom from Derrick Henry in that first half, the Colts held Henry and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to a complete of 73 speeding yards in six quarters.
Denver does common 109.5 speeding YPG however as I discussed, Javonte Williams is out of the lineup so they might lean extra on their new franchise quarterback. If that does occur and Indianapolis could make the Broncos one-dimensional then it will likely be on the entrance 4 to get after Russell Wilson.
The trouble will probably be led by Yannick Ngakoue, Kwity Paye, and DeForest Buckner. I’d wish to see Gus Bradley proceed to throw well timed blitzes and stunts at offenses.
This received’t be received simply by the names on the protection. The Colts will want a few of their younger gamers within the rotation to step up. Tyquan Lewis has been dominated out so his veteran presence will probably be missed. Second-year defensive lineman, Dayo Odeyingbo was chosen to be that man for this crew. After getting his first sack of the season, may he begin taking part in with extra confidence this week?
Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 occasions this season. That’s the fifth-highest make so there’s a confirmed alternative that defenses can get after him in Denver. If the Colts wish to keep away from having him seem like his previous self then they should get in his face early and sometimes to verify he doesn’t get in a rhythm.
A clear recreation by Matt Ryan
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Russell Wilson isn’t the one quarterback that’s struggling along with his new crew to start out the season. It additionally hasn’t been fairly in any respect for Matt Ryan. The Colts traded for the quarterback with the thought in thoughts that they’d get some stability on the place. They didn’t want Ryan to play at an MVP-level however to do sufficient to maintain the sticks shifting and shield the ball. That final half hasn’t occurred in any respect but.
His 9 fumbles are probably the most by a quarterback this season. The second-highest mark is six. Three of these have been misplaced and the remaining killed any alternative of hope that drives had. This has been very stunning to see coming from a participant who’s in his fifteenth season.
Ryan has 5 interceptions in 4 video games. His 3.2% interception proportion could be the very best of his profession. His earlier excessive was 2.6% and that got here again in 2015.
The mixture of Ryan’s turnovers and the offensive line play are holding this crew again from placing up factors. If Ryan can play a clear recreation of soccer in opposition to the Broncos then the Colts ought to be ready to win the sport within the fourth quarter.
Evolving the passing assault
Whereas the main target has rightfully been on the struggles of Matt Ryan and the offensive line following the loss to the Titans, one factor I consider was neglected was the passing assault having their finest recreation of the season. Clearly, the Colts had their arms compelled after they have been down 24-3 however it was promising to see some life from Ryan and his weapons to assist make it a recreation within the fourth quarter.
Ryan threw for a season-high 356 passing yards and Michael Pittman Jr. accounted for 8.7% of these yards. He was in a position to unfold the ball to his receivers and tight ends to assist preserve the chains shifting. This may possible have to be repeated once more due to Jonathan Taylor’s damage and with Patrick Surtain II to possible shadow Pittman Jr. for a lot of the recreation.
Search for Alec Pierce to stack his third recreation in a row of creating some performs for Indianapolis.
One factor that can assist out the speeding assault is when the offense begins attacking defenses extra vertically. Parris Campbell must be a type of guys for the Colts. He’s coming off his finest recreation of the season, catching 4 balls for 43 yards. However the usage of the tight ends is what actually shined in opposition to Tennessee.
Frank Reich loves to make use of the place group inside his scheme and it was on show this previous Sunday. Mo Alie-Cox was one other participant along with his finest recreation of this younger season.
In addition to for Kylen Granson. The second-year tight finish put his receiving expertise on show and confirmed what he can add to the offense.
Will this exhibiting from the function gamers proceed into Thursday evening? Frank Reich actually hopes so.