Sloppy & Ill prepared, the Colts must learn from this game
The Raiders desperately needed this victory, and played like a team backed into a corner having to claw and fight their way through. With a strong initial rushing attack and a consistently good passing attack lead by Derek Carr, the Raiders had a good formula for victory.
Carr has long been known to be one of the better QBs in the league when not under pressure in the pocket. Despite a solid pass rush day for the Colts, Carr was able to carve up the Colts pass Defense. Hunter Renfrow & Zay Jones combined for 15 catches for 196 yards and a TD, creating havoc for the Colts secondary at all 3 levels of the Zone coverage and winning in man during several key moments. There were flashes of brilliance from the Colts D that were instrumental in containing the Raiders, particularly the 2 INTs by Darius Leonard & Isaiah Rodgers. The pass rush even got 2 sacks on the day with team efforts by Buckner, Paye, Turay, & Dayo all contributing well at times together. However despite these flashes, the Defense late in the 4th yet again allowed a game winning drive.
The Defense is far from the only party to blame, they still did well enough to limit the Raiders to 23 points. However the Offensive performance left a lot to be desired. Carson Wentz was not accurate in this game and cost the Colts several opportunities to make big plays. While he didn’t have any game crushing Turnovers, his misfiring to various receivers was rough to watch. He seemed out of sync with his WRs, which could be partially attributed to his limited practice leading up to the game due to COVID.
At first glance, this looks like a horrible pass by #Colts QB: Carson Wentz.
But as Carson was throwing the ball, T.Y. looks back and throws his hand up, which slowed him down.
Both players wish they had this play back… pic.twitter.com/Cudt0zemR9
— Lawrence Owen (@Colts_Law) January 2, 2022
While Wentz was alright in the short to intermediate passing game (though could still stand to improve there) the lack of deep ball passing was limiting to this offense. Wentz has been solid this season, but 5.48 yards per attempt and sub 60% completion percentage won’t cut it if the Colts have aspirations of making a deeper playoff run. He despite the lack of deep targets, he did get a bit lucky on one deep shot to the endzone. Thankfully a Ghost was haunting behind the defenders.
You just have to watch this TD for yourself …
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 2, 2022
Speaking of which, the playoff race now becomes much more tighter, as the Colts have fallen to the 6 seed & are in a tiebreaker scenario with several teams at 9-7 so far this season. The Colts playoff odds still stand well at 82% but now have an absolute must win game for the regular season finale vs the Jaguars. While the Jaguars have been brutally bad in 2021, going on the road vs the Jaguars has not gone well for the Colts for several years. The Colts are on a 6 game road losing streak vs the Jaguars, and haven’t won since 2014 in Jacksonville. The Colts are heavy favorites, but the Jags always seem to play the Colts close. If there is a lesson to be learned from the Raiders game it is this: Just Win Baby.
Game MVP: Jonathan Taylor and the OL
Jonathan Taylor had yet another strong game, rushing for 108 yards and a TD on just 20 carries. With this performance, he set the Colts single season record for rush yards at 1,734. The previous record was set by Hall of Famer Edgerrin James, who congratulated JT in a moving video shown on the big screen mid game.
Edge with a message for the new franchise single-season rushing record holder. pic.twitter.com/MxGwGe3gLx
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 2, 2022
While that is a phenomenal individual achievement that deserves high praise, credit should also go to the Colt’s OL. Whether it was paving the way on the ground for Taylor’s 5.4ypc, or protecting Wentz for the game, they had a strong performance. Matt Pryor looked really good in replacing Fisher at Left Tackle, Ryan Kelly returned to Center to help make the calls at the line and did a solid job, and the 2018 draft mates Big Q & Braden Smith were as punishing as ever. There were still some issues in miscommunication, however, which is on both Center and QB to recognize the blitz, but beyond that, the unit rebounded nicely after the tumultuous and injury/COVID ridden Cardinals game. Both OL unit & JT will continue to be crucial for the Colts attack