Thu, 23 Sep 2021

Five Things Learned: Colts vs. Seahawks, Week 1

Indianapolis Colts
14 Sep 2021, 17:39 GMT+10

The Colts opened the 2021 season with a 28-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are five things we learned from Week 1, from Carson Wentz's debut to Nyheim Hines' motivation.  JJ Stankevitz

1. Carson Wentz Played Well.

First things first: Head coach Frank Reich saw "a lot of good" from Carson Wentz in his Colts debut.

"I thought he threw the ball accurately, I thought his post-snap decisions were very good," Reich said. "I thought his command of the huddle - I'm not in there but there's one or two times where we got behind on the eight ball and we had the one there was confusion, we had a substitution confusion thing and he did a great job of getting the snap off. A couple of those things. I thought he looked poised, under control. There were a couple pre-snap things that we need to clean up that we've talked about but a lot of positive things."

Reich also pointed to Wentz not throwing an interception - he was picked off a league-high 15 times with the Philadelphia Eagles last year - as a positive, too.

Wentz completed 25 of 38 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 102.0. That passer rating was his highest since Week 16 of the 2019 season.

And Wentz exited Sunday's game without any lingering concerns about his foot, which he had surgery on six weeks ago Monday.

"It feels fine," Wentz said.

2. Upon Further Review...

Reich said in the aftermath of Sunday's loss he needed to watch the tape of the game before judging how the Colts' offensive line played.

So after watching the tape, what was Reich's assessment of the offensive line?

"Overall the protection aspect was probably not up to our standards," Reich said. "Last night, it's a little bit like what I said, there's more to it than just the offensive line play. We need to be better. We need to be better as coaches, we need to be better as players in that area. We have very high standards there."

Wentz was under pressure on 20 of his 44 drop backs, per Pro Football Focus; he was sacked three times and scrambled three more times when under pressure.

"First and foremost, we're a pocket protection team," center Ryan Kelly said Sunday. "If he's scrambling that many times, it's not the safest in the pocket. That's on us. We'll go back and watch it as an entire offense and I'm sure that everybody's got something they can get better at."

Some credit does need to go to the Seahawks here, too - Reich pointed out one play on which left tackle Julien Davenport was beat where there was supposed to be some help for him with a chip, but the Seahawks called and executed a play that took that help away.

But as Reich said, the Colts' pass protection was not up to their standards in Week 1. In Week 2, it'll collectively face arguably the NFL's most menacing defensive player in DT Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles' Rams three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Donald has 47 1/2 sacks and 93 quarterback hits in 49 games since the 2018 season kicked off.

"It starts with Aaron Donald up front," Reich said. "My experience is, especially with these guys and these players is that kind of brings something about in you - like hey, I have to step up here. I have to rise to the occasion, I have to rise to the challenge. I expect to have a great week of practice."

3. Two Injury Updates On The O-Line.

Right tackle Braden Smith had a foot injury crop up on Sunday, which is not the same foot injury Wentz and Quenton Nelson dealt with during training camp.

"We'll monitor that and see the significance of that as we go," Reich said.

Reich did not have an update on left tackle Eric Fisher, who was a limited participant in practice last week but did not play against the Seahawks.

"I'm encouraged from last week," Reich said. "I guess that would be the only update but he's still kind of fresh out of everything so we're going to take it day-by-day."

4. Defense Drawing Motivation From Frustration

Reich's mantra to his team on Monday was that "the frustration should fuel our focus," as the Colts re-convened at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

For a defense that allowed 28 points and didn't play up to its standards in Week 1, that message was received even before players walked into the building.

"A lot of guys were just hungry," safety Julian Blackmon said. "We know that we made mistakes. Everybody had already watched the film before we even came in today so we all as a defense, we knew what we had to get better at and we were just focused because we gotta get better. We have a good team coming in this Sunday so we just gotta prepare."

The Rams hung 34 points on the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, with quarterback Matthew Stafford connecting on a couple of deep touchdowns to ignite LA's offense. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks were a challenge; certainly, Sean McVay's Rams will be too.

And it's one Reich is confident his team's defense will be up for thanks to drawing the fuel from Sunday's frustrations.

"I love our defense," Reich said. "Just hungry. Hungry. That was the other thing we talked about today, just coming in here hungry and humble. We ate a little bit of humble pie so let's come in here hungry and humble because it takes that humility for each one of us, coaches included, to say that was not good enough, I can be better, what can I do better, how can I be a better teammate, what can I do for this team to be better. And that humility is a lot of what fuels the growth, fuels the right things. And I think we got the right kind of guys on defense who are thinking like that."

5. Nyheim Hines Sets His Goal

It was a bit of a bittersweet weekend for Nyheim Hines, who signed a contract extension Saturday but was left to deal with the sting of a season-opening loss on Sunday.

"Signed the contract on Saturday, wish it could've been a lot better result on Sunday so I could actually celebrate it a little bit," Hines said. "It really was a dream come true, a blessing from the lord. I'm honored and humbled but I obviously can't even really be that happy about it with how Sunday went."

Hines had a productive Week 1, averaging 5.5 yards per touch on 15 touches. He showcased his physicality - a focus for someone who wants to shed the lazy perception he's merely a "gadget guy" - in addition to his quickness and agility in both the run game and pass game.

Colts coaches saw Hines playing with some added confidence and play speed during training camp, and that carried over into the start of the regular season on Sunday. But now that Hines earned job security, his goal is to make sure the Colts' investment in him is more than a good one.

"I thank them for that, Frank and Chris (Ballard) for always having faith in me after how I started my career here," Hines said. "It meant the world to me and I plan on rewarding the Colts with my best year of football and earning every penny of it."

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