Pathetic. Putrid. Embarrassing. Frustrating.
These are just some of the words that come to mind when you think of how the Indianapolis Colts looked Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This marks the franchise’s eighth straight loss in Duval County. Sunday’s game is also the third time that the Colts have been shut out since 2003. The Jags are responsible for all three games and this is the second time it has happened in the Frank Reich era.
There is nothing positive that Indianapolis can pull from this loss. It was an all-around terrible performance from the players to the coaching staff to the front office that put the roster together.
Here are my five takeaways from the game:
Passing attack had nothing
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Matt Ryan was missing his trusty weapon, Michael Pittman Jr. and it showed against the Jaguars. Nobody could get separation throughout the game. That led to Ryan holding the ball too long which led to him getting sacked or hit before he would throw the ball. This was very apparent in third and fourth down situations. Ryan was constantly scanning around the field for an open man and even when he got the throw off, he had to try to squeeze it in tight windows.
This was the gamble that Chris Ballard was willing to take with the receiving corps and it bit the team in you know where when his number one receiver was out for the day. To show how bad the offense was today, they only had 71 total yards at halftime.
It wasn’t all on the receivers, Ryan had his struggles as well. On the opening drive, he made a poor throw that led to his first interception of the day. He lofted the ball in the air and made it easy for Rayshawn Jenkins to get his hands on the ball. Ryan finished going 16/30 for 195 yards and three interceptions.
Ashton Dulin was the leading receiver. He caught five balls for 79 yards on seven targets but most of that production came in the fourth quarter when the team was down 24-0.
This was not the expectation of the offense with the addition of Ryan and if it doesn’t get fixed soon then there might be some changes coming for the organization.
Easy day for Trevor Lawrence
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This is the second straight game against Jacksonville that the Colts’ defense made it easy for Trevor Lawrence. He had plenty of time to sit back in the pocket to deliver throws throughout the afternoon. The defensive front couldn’t get any pressure on the young quarterback. The Jags’ offensive line was in sync in their pass protection and had all the answers for what Gus Bradley wanted to throw at them.
Lawrence finished the game with a clean jersey because Indianapolis was only able to log two QB hits. This wasn’t only on the defensive front. The secondary had their struggles as well. Allowing too much separation and making it easy for Lawrence to play catch with his receivers. It also didn’t help that they dropped a couple of interceptions that might have given the team some energy.
Lawrence finished his day going 25/30 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He also had three rushes for 11 yards. Gus Bradley simply got outcoached by Doug Pederson. I understand the defense doesn’t have Shaquille Leonard but their performance in the first two weeks has been very underwhelming for the names they have in that unit.
Pass protection is a mess
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It can’t be overstated about how dreadful the Colts’ offensive line has been in the first two games. They were once again dominated in the trenches by the Jaguars’ defensive front. Indianapolis struggled to give Matt Ryan to throw at times, failed to pick up stunts, and had some costly penalties throughout the game. For a unit that has so much money invested into it, this has been unacceptable to see from them.
Braden Smith hasn’t looked great to start the 2022 season. He’s been beaten multiple times and isn’t looking like that lockdown right tackle that he has been in the past. He has to start playing better because the offense can’t afford both tackles being a liability.
Just like the gamble that Chris Ballard took with the receiving corps, it also isn’t paying off for what he did with the left tackle spot. Matt Pryor isn’t the answer. He constantly gets beat by speed rushers which isn’t giving Matt Ryan any comfortability with his blindside. After today’s performance, I don’t know how he starts next week.
The rookie Bernhard Raimann wasn’t perfect when he played today either but at this point, it might be beneficial to speed up his development by playing full-time at the left tackle spot.
When the game ended, Ryan’s white jersey was covered with green and it showed in the box score. The Jaguars had five sacks and 11 QB hits alone. Plus, Ryan was under duress all afternoon. If the passing attack is going to improve then it will start with the offensive line performing at the level that the Colts are paying them to be.
Not enough of Jonathan Taylor
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I understand that Jonathan Taylor finished with 31 rushing attempts last week but that is not a good excuse for the offense to shy away from their star running back. The offense couldn’t sustain drives in the first half which in part led to Taylor not seeing much action to start the game. They had three straight three-and-outs between the first and second quarter which helped the Jaguars jump out to a 17-0 lead.
Taylor only saw five touches in the first half. He did his best to try to jump-start the offense when he got the ball in the second half. JT broke off a couple of chunk runs and finally got the chains moving for Indianapolis but it wasn’t enough.
In the end, Frank Reich only got the ball in the hands of Taylor 10 times. He ran the ball nine times for 54 yards and had one reception for nine yards on one target. When the offense is missing Michael Pittman Jr., I don’t know how you don’t get Taylor more involved. Especially to open up the game.
Chris Ballard and Frank Reich are on the hot seat
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With how last season finished and how this season has started for the Colts, the general manager and head coach are officially on the hot seat. Both are at blame for the horrendous beginning of the 2022 campaign. Chris Ballard has been great at finding talent in the NFL draft but his failure of bringing in a veteran receiver and a solution for the left tackle spot has cost his team two games.
If the woes at those positions continue, then he deserves a lot of heat for those decisions. There has been a common theme in the Ballard and Frank Reich era, which is starting the year lethargic. Reich’s teams always have to climb themselves out of a hole and find a way to get themselves to have a shot at the playoffs but what if that doesn’t work out for them this year?
With how the Colts looked today, I don’t know how they can have any belief that things will get better for them. The Kansas City Chiefs are coming up in Week 3 followed by the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, things can get ugly fast for Indianapolis. There were high expectations from Jim Irsay entering the season so will he consider a mid-season change if his team is below .500 after the first nine games of the season?
Ballard and Reich better right the ship before we have to find out that answer.