As the Colts face off vs. the
St. Louis LA Rams for week 2, several questions need answering:
- Will either of the Colt’s starting OTs (Braden Smith and Eric Fisher) be able to play?
- Will Al Quadim Muhammad continue to get starting reps over Ben Banogu?
- Can the Colts secondary rebound from a porous start against one of the best vertical deep threat duos (DK Metcalf & Tyler Lockett) vs. one of the best route running duos in the NFL (Cooper Kupp & Robert Woods)
- Can the Colt’s high upside LBs rebound from a porous showing vs. Seahawks?
- How will Carson Wentz look against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL?
- Can the Colts’ RBs make a difference (Hines & Taylor were effective in receiving the game but were stuffed on the ground in week 1)?
As you can see, after last week’s dismal performance for most of the team, fans are hoping for a bounce-back performance. While the hope is all well and good, for week 2, expectations should be tempered. After all, this Rams team is one of the best rosters in the NFL with a strong offensive & defensive identity, better health, & now has one of the most underrated QBs of the decade in Matthew Stafford (who I personally saw as a top 7-13 QB when healthy in previous years for the Lions). Optimism is great, but realism won’t break your heart as much.
Looking at our opponents for this matchup, the Colts face a daunting challenge. The Rams return the #1 Defense of 2020, with nearly all of their key starters intact (apart from losing S John Johnson & CB Janoris Jenkins in Free Agency). Leading the Rams’ charge is none other than Aaron Donald, who, if you have been watching NFL football over the past 8 years, is pretty good at this whole football thing. Donald going up against Quenton Nelson would be the interior trench battle of the Decade. However, if the Rams want to match up Donald at the biggest mismatch, they will either move him across from Glowinski or have him attack the Colt’s backup OTs on either side of the line if Braden Smith &/or Eric Fisher is out. A safe bet to say the results won’t be pretty for the Colt’s pass protection or run blocking if Donald has even more vulnerable matchups to take advantage of.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts will have another difficult test in the passing game. Matthew Stafford was a highly efficient 20/26 for 321 yards and 3 TDs last week against the Bears Defense. The rocket-armed QB should challenge the Colts deep, which was a big issue vs. the Seahawks a week prior. He is aided by the most talented offense he has ever had in his career, with WRs Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson, & rookie Tutu Atwell and a strong pass protecting OL. The Rams line led by future HOF blindside protector Andrew Whitworth held the Bear’s fearsome pass rush to only 3 pressures according to Pro Football Reference, tied for the lowest amount allowed in Week 1. While Kupp & Woods will be tough for the Colts to handle with Xavier Rhodes absent again, the Colts pass rush will need a strong performance against the Rams OL to keep Stafford from carving up the Colts zone coverage.
Colts Week 2 MVP: Carson Wentz
While there are several notable candidates (Kenny Moore II vs. Cooper Kupp will be a critical matchup to watch for the Colts Defensive success), I had to go with the most *valuable* player for the Colts in week 2. Simply put, Wentz will not be expected to succeed against this Rams defense. But if the Colts have any chance to beat the Rams, he has to. Despite questions of his OL play & its health, despite his WR injuries, & despite the difficulty of the defense he will be up against, he has to succeed for this Colts team to win. The Colts roster, even when healthy, is likely worse than the Rams roster, and with injuries taking their toll recently, the advantage of a supporting cast is looking more decisive. Wentz will have to play turnover-free football while forced to overcome a relentless rush and avoid throwing at arguably the best CB in the game in Jalen Ramsey. To win, Wentz might even have to play some hero ball (which has not worked out well in the past). I don’t expect the Colts to win in this one, and considering the history of these two teams, I don’t expect it to be close. But Wentz will need to channel his 2017 MVP front-runner form for the Colts to win the day. I don’t expect it to happen, but either way, Wentz will be the most valuable player for the Colts this week. Maybe he will find extra motivation against the only team that passed on him in the 2016 NFL Draft? Whatever keeps the motor running hot. While the Colts are not projected to win, thankfully, the schedule gets easier after this week, and hopefully, the Colts get healthier. Hopefully…