Sometimes we’re able to breakdown a great play which led to an Indianapolis Colts victory, and sometimes we are forced to breakdown the play that occurred at a critical point in the game and proved to be the beginning of their demise.
The latter is where we find ourselves this week.
The play in question; a third-and-seven situation in the red zone with 2:47 left in the game with the Colts up on the Houston Texans 23-9.
There is nothing spectacular about this play pre-snap, in fact, there’s nothing spectacular about the play at all — until Lamar Miller catches the ball.
The Texans came up to the line of scrimmage in a four-wide set (three wide receivers and one tight end upright close to the line of scrimmage), with one running back. The Colts’ defense, which was simply trying to protect the first down yardage as well as the end zone, was in a very basic cover-2 cloud and rushing only three defensive linemen. Brock Osweiler, upon the snap of the ball, almost immediately decided to check down in order to avoid a costly turnover and prepared to settle for a field goal as he released the ball with Miller as his target.
But, everything changed at the point of the catch.
Miller caught the ball around three, to four, yards short of first down yardage with Erik Walden and Darryl Morris seemingly having him boxed in with very little possibility to gain the necessary yardage to extend the drive for the Texans. Almost immediately Miller, while appearing to head for the near side of the field, forced both to over-pursue. Miller definitively stuck his foot in the ground and cut back to the middle of the field where several more Colts’ defenders are there waiting for him. No problem, right?
Wrong. Clayton Geathers and Hassan Ridgeway began to close in on Miller, but neither took good angles in their own pursuit and with a couple more shifty moves they were both out of Miller’s line of vision. In the process, Ridgeway took such a bad angle that he cut off the re-pursuit of Walden by blocking his route to getting back in the play.
Then D’Qwell Jackson, who is supposed to be one of the Colts’ most sure tacklers, flew right by Miller with absolutely no signs of fundamentals and it wasn’t really even close. At that point a tunnel opened up for Miller as some of his teammates began to arrive and wall off some of the Colts’ defenders, and it’s virtually all left up to Mike Adams just to keep Miller out of the end zone.
Ryan Griffin arrived just at the right time to step in front of Adams, Miller made one more cut and he skipped into the end zone virtually untouched. That’s 10 yards, and 10 defenders whiffing on one running back with only Geathers, and maybe Jackson getting a hand on him.
This, among many other things, is a major issue with this Colts team. The defensive play-call was sound so it had nothing to do with poor coaching. Additionally, Osweiler even surrendered to the defense, refusing to make a play at the end zone. The players were in the right position and they simply failed to make the tackle, and most of them didn’t even touch him despite being within a couple yards of him.
If you needed a visual as to why this defense will continue to not be taken seriously, this is a prime example as to why.
The Colts travel to play the Tennessee Titans this Sunday, then have matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers before their bye week. If this doesn’t stop, the Colts will be 2-7 by then and may dig themselves a hole that’s inescapable.