Indianapolis Colts: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 5
Of course, how they got there was very different from how they were expected to. The Colts offense has been efficient, although perplexing. The Indianapolis defense has been stingy, allowing just 10 points over the last two weeks and just seven points in the fourth quarter so far this season.
As questionable as the Colts looked in the first two weeks, they've looked just as good during the last two. The execution by the Colts has been excellent, although there certainly still are philosophical concerns.
The next four weeks will go a long way in informing fans and analysts how good the Colts are. The Seahawks visit Indianapolis next week, then the Colts go to San Diego for a Monday night game. Peyton Manning and the Broncos then come to Indianapolis before the Colts have a bye week, after which the Colts visit Houston.
If the Colts can go 2-2 in those four weeks, they'll be 5-3 with a mediocre second-half schedule. But first, they must deal with the Seahawks in Week 5.
The Colts' positive-54 point differential is the fourth-highest in the league, boosted by a few late scores against San Francisco and the blowout in Jacksonville, but impressive nonetheless.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, continues to be one of the worst teams in NFL history. The Jaguars' minus-98 point differential is the eighth-worst through the first four weeks in NFL history. The team looks completely inept on offense (Blaine Gabbert is not the answer, unless the question is a trivia question about one of the Jaguars' many draft busts) and their defense is simply too inexperienced to hold up against teams with above-average offenses.
While they were preseason favorites, the Texans are currently third in the division after blowing a 20-3 halftime lead against the Seahawks. Houston needed to bounce back after getting blown out by Baltimore last week, and this loss is devastating. Now the Texans have to travel to San Francisco in Week 5 and could end the week back two games in the division.
The Titans are the most surprising team in the division, led by a strong defense and a much-improved Jake Locker. Locker was hurt in the Titans' win over the Jets, which would be a huge blow. Locker has been very impressive this season, and every team needs a quarterback in order to be a real threat.
|Ricky Jean Francois||DL||Groin||Day-to-Day|
|Bjoern Werner||OLB||Foot||Out 4-6 Weeks|
Colts.com and Chuck Pagano
The biggest blow this week came when Bjoern Werner was forced to leave the game with what was called a "sprained foot." The Colts found out Monday that Werner tore his plantar fascia, which requires a four-to-six week recovery. Werner has been improving each week and is a a key part of the Colts' pass rush. Without him, former 49er Cam Johnson will try to add pass rush off the bench.
Stanley Havili could be out this week, indicated by the Colts' signing of Robert Hughes on Monday. Samson Satele should return against Seattle, while the rest of the injuries are up in the air for this week.
The Colts' injury luck has been awful over the last few seasons, and it continues to be in 2013. The Werner injury just adds to that.
What Needs to Improve
After upsetting San Francisco and dominating the Jaguars in consecutive weeks, it's a bit more difficult to point to blemishes in Indianapolis, but no team is perfect.
First, the Colts' running with Trent Richardson needs to improve. Richardson gained just 60 yards on 20 attempts on Sunday, a poor average of 3.0 yards per carry. The newly-acquired back hasn't shown much burst to hit holes quickly, but also hasn't shown patience and vision to find slow-developing holes.
But, the Colts aren't doing Richardson any favors, putting him behind a fullback on 15 of his 20 runs. This allows defenses to key on Richardson and sell out to stop the run.
|With a Fullback||15||37||2.5|
|Without a Fullback||5||23||4.6|
Pro Football Focus and Kyle J. Rodriguez
It's unfortunate for Richardson that the Colts are telegraphing runs, but don't confuse using a fullback with simply pounding it up the middle. The Colts are giving him chances to run the ball on the outsides as well, but he struggles to find holes and cut upfield there.
Of course, with a fullback, the Colts have been very successful passing the ball. They averaged nearly four more yards per pass when a fullback was on the field than they did when they went without a fullback. If that success continues, teams won't be able to key in on Richardson with a fullback on the field.
Another thing that could stand to improve is the odd play-calling in certain situations. As we've talked about multiple times this year, the play-calling in short-yardage situations is very odd at times.
The Colts talk about their desire to be a power-running team. Power-running teams can succeed in short yardage by pounding the ball. The Colts, however, oftentimes aren't even trying to pound the ball in those situations.
For example, the Colts got to the Jaguars' 4-yard line in the first quarter and lined up in three straight passing formations. Three incomplete, low-percentage passes later, Indianapolis was forced to kick a field goal.
Contrastingly, the Colts got to the 1-yard line in the second quarter and immediately lined up in a power formation.
One blast up the middle later and the Colts had seven more points on the board.
The Colts also had a 3rd-and-1 situation in the second half where they attempted to run Richardson on a toss around the right side. Again, Richardson hasn't run well outside, and in a short-yardage situation like that one would like to see the Colts take the shortest route to the first-down: up the gut (especially on a day where they didn't run well outside).
Outside of those nitpicks, it's difficult to be too serious about things that need to improve after the last two weeks. The Colts will be hard-pressed to repeat that type of performance against Seattle, but there's no question that they've played about as well as anyone could hope over the last two weeks.
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