Colts Get Ready for Kansas City; Hits and Misses in Houston
INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s our latest ‘hits and misses’ piece on 1070TheFan.com highlighting the good and bad from the previous game.
It was pretty darn impressive, but not everything was perfect from the Colts advancing to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs.
What was the good and bad from the Colts beating the Texans, 21-7, on Saturday afternoon?
- Situational Execution Nearly Perfect: Frank Reich called his quarterback ‘masterful’ for what the Colts accomplished in key situations on Saturday. During Saturday’s first half, the Colts were 6-of-6 on third down and 3-for-4 in the red zone. Those are insane numbers against the vaunted front 7 of the Texans. But I also want to extend the ‘situational’ aspect of the game to how the Colts started Saturday’s contest and the discipline we saw from them against Houston. The Colts jumped out to that 14-0 lead, doing it again on the road for a second straight week. That totally changed how the Texans wanted to attack. Also, a week after a season-high 12 committed penalties by the Colts, they only had 2 on Saturday, while the Texans had a couple of huge offsides penalties early on. Honestly, I thought the Colts benefited from a pretty favorable whistle on Saturday, but correcting last week’s issues needs to be mentioned.
- Colts Win Strength Vs. Strength: Coming into Saturday the unquestioned best matchup of the day belonged to the Colts offensive line versus the Texans defensive line. And the Colts easily won that battle. They rushed for 200 yards (for the third time this season) and Andrew Luck wasn’t sacked in 33 pass attempts. With Ryan Kelly back, the Colts’ best starting offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack now in 6 straight games. And Saturday once again showed how much more efficient this rushing offense is when Kelly is in the lineup. It’s not often a position group with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney get outplayed in a game. But they did on Saturday.
- Another Big Day For Marlon Mack: Marlon Mack’s 148-yard day not only set a Colts’ playoff franchise record, but also marked the first 100-yard playoff outing for a Colt since Dominic Rhodes in Super Bowl XLI. It’s one thing to rush for 200 yards against the Bills or Raiders in October. But doing it on the road, against the Texans, that is another story. Mack’s vision and ability to make guys miss, or even extend runs after contact was seen throughout the four quarters on Saturday. In 2018, Saquon Barkley (82) and LeSean McCoy (73) were the only players to rush for at least 70 yards against the Texans. Mack nearly doubled Barkley’s rushing total in the Wild Card win.
- Matt Eberflus’ Blueprint Out Coaches Bill O’Brien: You think Matt Eberflus had some confidence walking into his head coach interview with the Browns on Sunday? More often than not in the second half of the season, we’ve praised Eberflus for the game plan and execution from this defense. Saturday was certainly another example of that. The blueprint, which worked against the Texans last month, had even better success on Saturday. Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins were borderline non-factors, as the Colts once again totally stymied the Texans top skill players. The Colts held the Texans to a season-low 7 points.
- Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir Lead The Defense: Individual praise for the defensive play needs to start with the two starting cornerbacks. And they did it in vastly different ways on Saturday. Sure, Kenny Moore made his fair share of plays in coverage, but his biggest impact was constant blitzing from his nickel position (just like what we saw last month against the Texans). Per Next Gen Stats, Moore blitzed 15 times on Saturday, the most for an NFL defensive back since 2016. And then there was Pierre Desir in coverage completely bottling up anything the Texans wanted to do with DeAndre Hopkins. It was a hell of a day by the Colts’ unheralded corner duo.
- 2nd Half Shutout: After going back and watching the second half, a couple of things stand out to me as why the Colts weren’t as successful offensively. The majority of it early was self-inflicted. You had a couple drops and a penalty on the first two drives of the half. Then you got a bit behind the chains and the Texans defense finally delivered with some key third-down stops. I also believe the sense of urgency was throttled back a bit, which I understand. You are up 21-0. You don’t need to force anything too much and risk letting Houston back in the game via an easy score. Now, against the Chiefs, the Colts will need their production to be much more in the 60-minute variety. Yes, the Colts need to be crisper to upset the No. 1 seed, but I also think the Texans showed (too little to late) that they can play some defense.
PHOTO: Getty Images/Tim Warner