In what should be a shock to no one, the Colts start the season 0-1 for the 8th straight year. They kept it close for the much of the game, but there were plenty of things to nitpick and the various reasons for their loss were very obvious. It almost seemed as if the narratives leading up to the game were flipped. The defense was supposed to be great, but severely lacked any sort of coverage. The offensive line that only allowed 21 sacks all of last season allowed 3 sacks and 15 QB hits (unofficially). Darius Leonard, coming off of an All-Pro season and just got paid, looked lost at times (although he did come up clutch with a forced fumble in the 3rd quarter). And the highly touted run game of the Colts averaged less than 3.5 YPC with under 100 yards.
It wasn’t great to watch, but there are some takeaways that we can look at for next week against the Rams.
The Return of Carson Wentz
As I said before, the narratives were flipped this week for the Colts and that includes Carson Wentz. Perhaps the biggest question mark coming into the season in general was if Wentz would be able to play to the same caliber he once did with Frank Reich. And while it’s only been one week, I think he showed he was not the issue. He spent most of the game running for his life, but at the same time, you have to look at it and realize that is something the Colts didn’t get all of last season with Philip Rivers. Wentz can move and he can evade. He made the right throws and didn’t try to force anything, both of which were major issues for him last season (lead the league in turnovers in 2020). He threw for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns on 65% completion, a very solid debut. Next week is against a much tougher defense, but for an offseason where he was barely able to spend any time throwing to his new receivers, this was not a bad debut.
The Young Receivers
The 7th round rookie out of Charleston, Mike Strachan, only recorded 2 receptions yesterday, but he certainly proved his worth. He had two great catches on 3rd down (one on 3rd and 4, one on 3rd and 13) in pretty decent coverage. You also have to applaud Wentz for making those great throws in such tight windows, but you have to think Strachan proved he deserves a little more playing time.
Parris Campbell played a decent bit of the offensive snaps, but only came up with one reception. Granted it was a big one (24 yard gain) and he worked himself very open for Wentz, I’d like to see him and that elite speed utilized more next week.
Michael Pittman was solid as well, hauling in 3 passes for 29 yards, but didn’t really do much outside of that. Next week will not be any easier as these guys will likely have Jalen Ramsey shadowing them.
Players to Watch Next Week
Perhaps the biggest player to watch next week is the QB1, Carson Wentz. While the points on the board and the record show otherwise, he had a strong debut against a weaker defense. Next week against the Rams will be a much bigger test. The Rams last night held the Bears to 216 passing yards and no passing touchdowns, as well as holding them to only 14 points. Wentz is going to need to be as precise as he’s ever been if he wants to pass on Jalen Ramsey and this Rams defense.
You also have to watch this Colts offensive line. They were dominated by a weak Seahawks defensive line. Try not to imagine what Aaron Donald is going to do to them. Getting Eric Fisher back would be huge, if possible. The Colts are going to need all of the help they can get.
Another player to watch is going to be Quenton Nelson. He is in for his biggest battle yet, as he’ll likely be matched up against one of the best players in the league in Aaron Donald. It will be very interesting to see how he fares against the 6-time All Pro and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.
The Blue Stable Player of the Game: Carson Wentz
To no one’s surprise, our Blue Stable Player of the Game is none other than Carson Wentz. It’s only been one week, but he showed he may be the quarterback the Colts have been looking for since Andrew Luck’s retirement. Wentz really seemed to be the only bright spot on this entire squad on Sunday. 274 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns was very solid for a guy who received foot surgery only 6 weeks ago and had almost no time to practice with the team after the recovery period. Look to next week to see what he can do against guys like Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, and Jordan Fuller with Aaron Donald likely in his face every play.
Passing: Carson Wentz (25/38, 251 YDS, 2 TD, 23 RUSH YDS)
Rushing: Jonathan Taylor (17 ATT, 56 YDS, 3.3 YPC)
Receiving: Jonathan Taylor (6 REC, 60 YDS)
Nyheim Hines (6 REC, 48 YDS)
Zach Pascal (4 REC, 43 YDS, 2 TD)
Tackles: Bobby Okereke (7 TKL)
Khari Willis (7 TKL, 0.5 SCK)
Sacks: Deforest Buckner (1 SCK, 6 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 QB HITS)
Kenny Moore II (1 SCK, 3 TKL, 1 TFL)