The Indianapolis Colts began the season today just as they’ve done for the last 11 years: with a Week 1 loss. Sunday’s loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars drops the team’s Week 1 record to 1-10 in the last 11 years (their only win coming in 2013). With a revamped offense and some new pieces on defense, it obviously takes time for the new team to mesh. Unfortunately, the team missed out on plenty of opportunities throughout the course of the game that could’ve resulted in a win.
Key Takeaways From the Indianapolis Colts Week 1 Loss
Philip Rivers‘ Indianapolis Colts debut – No Surprises
The Colts’ new quarterback, Philip Rivers, put up a stat line that many have come to accept from the veteran: 363 passing yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Despite the two very shaky interceptions he threw, it’s a far cry (and a borderline improvement) from the sub-200 yard passing numbers that now-number two quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, put up last year. The offense was solid overall; Rivers’ passing combined with the effective run game (4 YPC for the game) was definitely a positive for the team.
Of course, Rivers does what he always does in terms of interceptions. He gave rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson a career debut as the veteran quarterback elected to force passes instead of focusing on check-downs and the intermediate routes that had been working in the first half. It’s definitely a positive to see Rivers not take a sack throughout the course of the game but nevertheless, he needed to step up when it counted and he simply didn’t do enough.
Marlon Mack‘s Injury
Starting running back Marlon Mack was the most significant loss for the Colts in today’s matchup. The offense was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. Mack was very effective in the passing game (three receptions, 30 yards) and also contributed four carries for 26 yards before going down with an ankle injury midway through the second quarter. Nyheim Hines and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor both played well down the stretch but wasn’t enough for the team to utilize them as much in the second half.
Mack’s injury list is growing larger by the week and it’s increasingly obvious that the Colts will need to establish a run game that doesn’t’ revolve around him. Whether that’s playing running back by committee as they did today or officially giving Jonathan Taylor the starting job, the team needs to have a plan in place for when Mack isn’t on the field that proves to be effective whenever called upon. If Mack’s on the field, it’s only a benefit for the offense as he’s certainly effective when healthy, but if the team truly wants to succeed on offense, the run game needs to be more reliable so that Rivers can utilize it as much as possible.
Team Defense – Shockingly Ineffective
The biggest disappointment for the team today was the ineffectiveness on defense, both in the rush and the pass (especially against the pass). The run defense was decently effective (they held the Jaguars to under 100 yards total on the day) and the team was decent getting to Gardner Minshew. The team finished with four sacks, including two from Denico Autry, but couldn’t generate much pressure outside of the four sacks. DeForest Buckner had an effective debut (six total tackles) but, like the rest of the front set, struggled to get pressure.
The secondary was the largest flaw in the Indianapolis Colts’ 2020 season debut. Minshew played arguably the best game of his young career, torching the Colts’ back end with a 95 percent completion rate (19/20) and three touchdowns on 173 yards. The team had absolutely no answer against the slew of Jaguars wide receivers.
Kenny Moore was the only player for the Colts throughout the entire game to break up a pass. Other than that, the secondary was extremely flat and allowed 8.7 yards per catch today.
Missed Scoring Opportunities
The Colts had two crucial missed opportunities to put points on the board in today’s game. The first came on a failed fourth-down conversion deep in Jaguars territory. A chip shot field goal would’ve brought the team to 23 points. The second missed chance came on a missed field goal by rookie kicker, Rodrigo Blankenship, from 30 yards in the third quarter. That would’ve put them within a point of Jacksonville, which would’ve allowed the team to convert a field goal at the end of the game to take the lead.
Granted, the game would’ve likely played out differently if these two scoring chances were converted but regardless, there aren’t any excuses for the team missing out on easy points.
The Colts move to 0-1 in the 2020 season and have a week to prepare before their Week 2 matchup against a tough Minnesota Vikings team. The Jaguars will move on to face another division rival (this time the Tennessee Titans).