The Dopey Report Card (Colts-Patriots)
Who needs offense? The Colts had five first-half sacks and chased Mac Jones from the game. Now they're 5-5. Who saw that one coming? Not me.
First off, let’s never speak of this Frankfurt game again. Really, let’s not speak of the last two games; the Carolina game also set the sport back several decades. Credit the Colts for finding a way to beat the two worst teams in the NFL, but let’s be honest: The competition was awful. Carolina’s Bryce Young looks lost and Bill Belichick was so outraged by Mac Jones’ late interception, he inserted Bailey Zappe for the final Patriots’ drive. It’s impossible not to conclude that while Belichick is the greatest coach of the modern day – and maybe forever – he’s no different than every other NFL coach: He needs a quarterback, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one. Tom Brady clearly had a greater impact on all those New England Super Bowls, as evidenced by Belichick’s post-Brady decline and the fact Brady moved on and won a ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The whole game, Belichick looked like he was dealing with a migraine. As for the Colts running game – yeah, I’m getting to it – it was far more heavily skewed toward Jonathan Taylor (season-high 23 carries) but he averaged just three yards per carry (69 yards rushing). Another note: Give up the Brotherly Shove, or Tush Push, or whatever you want to call it. The play works in Philly. It doesn’t work in Indy.
I spent the first quarter concentrating on Shaq Leonard, and I didn’t like what I saw. Look, we’re rooting for him to return to his old form, one that had him on a Hall of Fame trajectory, but the surgeries have robbed him of his speed and explosion. It was jarring to see him whiff on Ezekiel Elliott in the open field, and while nine tackles is a decent day’s work, he’s just not making any splash plays these days. Worse, he’s used the last two Thursday media availabilities to complain about the way he’s being used, which would be acceptable if not for the fact they’ve won the last two weeks. The eye test isn’t failing me: He’s not the player he once was, and if he doesn’t drastically turn things around, there’s no way he’ll return to the Colts lineup next season, not at his salary. It’s not like Gus Bradley and the coaching staff has it out for Leonard. They’re playing their best players, and Leonard is not one of the top three linebackers these days. As for the run defense – not so great. It recalled the days when guys like Jonas Gray were running all over the Colts. New England had 36 carries for 167 yards, a 4.6 average.
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