Dopey Report Card (Colts-Jaguars)
Four turnovers, terrible red-zone defense, a complete lack of a running attack...as usual, it wasn't pretty in Jacksonville, the Colts' House of Horrors.
When the game was still marginally close, the Colts failed to establish any kind of running game. Now, I understand, the Jags are one of the league’s best run-defending teams in the league, they stuffed the Indy running game in the earlier meeting and they spent most of the game in a seven-man front. And with the Colts using a tight end to help Blake Freeland at right tackle, that took another target out of equation. But when Gardner Minshew is your quarterback, you’ve got to force the issue in the run game. Yeah, the Jags are strong in this area, but the Colts have one of the highest paid offensive lines in the league and just extended Jonathan Taylor to the tune of $42 million over three years. They ran the ball just eight times in the first half, 17 total. That’s not enough, especially in the first half. Not even close. I’ll take my chances going strength on strength. Zack Moss ran for 21 yards. Taylor ran for 19. Taylor had a nice 40-yard catch-and-run; eventually, he’ll find his game.
Hard to square up the numbers: The Colts held Jacksonville to season lows in total net yards (233) and passing yards (148) and yards per play (4.0). And gave up 37 points. Go figure. Well, actually, it’s easy to figure. The Jags had numerous short fields after Colts turnovers and were ridiculously efficient in the red zone. As usual, Zaire Franklin led the team in tackles (8), and I thought Shaq Leonard was more visible than he’s been thus far this year. DeForest Buckner had three tackles, one for loss and a sack. JuJu Brents got lost on one of the Jacksonville touchdowns – he’s a rookie – but he also had his first career interception and finished with seven tackles and two pass breakups. Samson Ebukam continued to make an impact, finishing with three solo tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack. The Jags had 85 rushing yards on 29 carries, a 2.9 average.
We’re not going to blast Gardner Minshew here, although, in fairness, he had a rough afternoon with one lost fumble and three interceptions. The bottom line is, you can’t win when you’re asking Minshew to play from behind, operate with no running game and asking him to throw the football 55 times. Look, he’s limited. He’s a nice, solid backup quarterback, probably the best backup in the league, but he’s a backup for a reason. The Colts had three pass plays of 40 yards or more and still averaged just 5.8 yards per pass attempt. In a league where 7-8 yards per attempt is par for the course, that’s a minuscule number. If you were one of the people who called for Minshew to play over Richardson – I know a couple – just…STOP. If I need a short-term stopgap, give me Minshew. But when opponents have an entire week to prepare for him, it’s a different game altogether. Kudos to Josh Downs, who had his first (and not his last) TD catch. Michael Pittman Jr. was excellent, as he usually is. Freeland, who practiced at right tackle just once this week, hung in there, but he needed a lot of help.