The 2021 season certainly did not start the way the Indianapolis Colts had hoped it would.
In front of a sold-out Lucas Oil Stadium, the crowd was rocking and there was incredible energy inside the building. Unfortunately, the energy the crowd brought did not translate into a Colts victory.
The Colts fell flat against the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 28-16. This marks the seventh straight year the Colts have started the season 0-1 to the dismay of owner Jim Irsay.
While in many areas there was cause for disappointment, there were still a few bright spots that the Colts can build upon.
Here are the players whose stock went up or went down after Week One for the Colts.
QB Carson Wentz
For all of the troubles that the Colts had on offense, Wentz was not among them.
In his first start for the Colts, Wentz finished 25-of-38 (65.8%) for 251 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 102.0. Considering Wentz only had six full practices under his belt with his new team before Sunday, it was a pretty solid showing for QB1.
Wentz started the game hot, going 9-of-10 on the first drive. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers and showed great velocity and ball placement on his two touchdowns to wide receiver Zach Pascal.
Wentz wasn’t perfect by any means. He fumbled the snap by Ryan Kelly on a crucial fourth-and-one inside Seahawks territory. He also faced an abundance of pressure, being sacked three times and hit 10 times. But head coach Frank Reich liked what he saw.
“I thought there was a lot of good,” Reich said after the game on Wentz’s performance. “I thought he seemed comfortable. The operation seemed fine. It wasn’t a perfect game, obviously, there were some mistakes, but we all made mistakes. Every one of us. We all have to get better.”
Wentz showed that there is certainly something to work with at quarterback and gives the Colts hope that he can be a major weapon as he gets more comfortable throughout the season.
WR Zach Pascal
One of the big questions heading into the season was which one of the receivers would step up in T.Y. Hilton’s absence due to a neck injury?
Enter the always dependable Pascal, who was the best Colts wide receiver on the field Sunday. Pascal had four catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns while also contributing in the running game with his blocking ability.
Pascal was on the field for 91% of the Colts’ offensive snaps, showing he will have a vital role in the wide receiver group. They will need him to continue to step up and provide a spark until Hilton can return.
DT DeForest Buckner
If there is one bright spot for the defense, it would have to be Buckner.
Buckner did all he could to be disruptive in the middle for the Colts, racking up six tackles and a sack. Buckner was close on numerous other occasions to tallying more sacks of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throughout the game.
While the Seahawks had success in the running game, it was mostly outside and away from Buckner in the middle. The Colts weren’t dominant along the defensive line, but it was not for lack of effort from #99.
The Offensive Line
When you have the most expensive offensive line in the NFL, you certainly do not expect performances like what transpired Sunday.
The Colts’ offensive line had one of their worst performances in years, giving flashbacks to the days where Andrew Luck was running for his life. As mentioned before, Wentz was sacked three times and hit 10 times while being pressured on numerous other dropbacks.
According to Pro Football Focus, the number of pressures given up by players on the offensive line was as follows: Julién Davenport – 8, Quenton Nelson – 0, Ryan Kelly – 2, Mark Glowinski – 3, and Braden Smith – 5.
It was reported on Monday that Smith came in with a foot injury after the game. The Colts will be monitoring it throughout the week, but this would be a massive blow if he has to miss time.
The offensive line is supposed to be one of the strengths of this team, and they certainly were not on Sunday. With the Los Angeles Rams coming to town this week, the unit must rebound to have a chance at winning.
LB Darius Leonard
After receiving a five-year, $99 million extension during training camp, Leonard did not play like a $99 million linebacker.
Leonard is normally a tackling machine but only recorded five tackles all game, including just one in the first half. He also gave up a touchdown in the first half to Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett across the middle and was tossed out of a running play by tight end Will Dissly.
Leonard did make a play in the second half to force a fumble in which the Colts recovered, but his performance was not up to The Maniac’s standard.
“We got our ass kicked,” Leonard said after the game. “You’re pissed off. (The Seahawks) come to the house, we’re at home, their defense talking trash – we didn’t do enough on our side of the ball defensively. You’re upset. We have to find a way to get the job done, so you have to watch the tape, see how you can improve and get better from there.”
Leonard was another strength of this Colts team that was not up to his normal standard on Sunday and needs to rebound against the Rams.
SS Khari Willis
It’s not often that a player with the awareness and football IQ of Willis is so out of position. But Sunday wasn’t a normal performance by many for the Colts’ best players.
Willis gave up two touchdowns to wide receiver Tyler Lockett on Sunday that helped the Seahawks build an insurmountable lead.
The first was on a play where the Colts sent an all-out blitz and Willis did not get his body turned quick enough to stay in step with Lockett. The second touchdown was a 69-yard bomb on a broken coverage where Willis was supposed to be the deep safety on the play.
Willis is normally a player who is praised for always being in the right spot. His mistake-riddled performance, especially in coverage, is one he will try to ensure doesn’t happen again.
Have thoughts on the stock for a handful of key Colts players following Sunday’s season-opening loss? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!
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