Normally we do 5 Qs and 5 As ahead of a Seattle Seahawks game, but this week’s season opener against the Indianapolis Colts is going to be a little different. The folks over at Stampede Blue do an exchange where both writers give three reasons why their team will lose. I’ve given my reasons why the Colts will send the Seahawks to 0-1 on the year, and you can check it out in the link below.
As for why the Colts will drop their home opener to Seattle? Deputy Site Manager Chris Blystone outlined his three key points.
The Colts have been in a state of near constant flux at quarterback since 2015 when Andrew Luck took a fateful hit that damaged his shoulder. Nothing has been certain at the position since, and here they are with yet another starting quarterback to begin the 2021 NFL season.
With a new quarterback entering the picture early games can be difficult enough. Learning a new offense and building chemistry with receivers is a critical part of being able to properly execute the offense. For the Colts, this is even worse. The addition of Carson Wentz was the addition of one of the absolute worst quarterbacks in the NFL in 2020.
It’s true, Carson Wentz was a victim of circumstance to some degree on a complete disaster of an Eagles team. It would be unfair to ignore his surroundings when discussing his performance last year. But equally unfair would be to simply handwave how bad it was. Wentz has a lot to prove, and he has to do it with an entirely new cast of characters surrounding him. True, head coach Frank Reich lead him to his most productive season as a pro. But the very real question remains: can he replicate that success?
Perhaps most concerning is the reality that perhaps no quarterback in the NFL needed a good offseason as badly as did Carson Wentz. The opportunity to build rapport with the offense and to regain confidence in his own abilities and supporting cast was a critical thing for Wentz in this offseason. He got none of it. Wentz missed almost all of the offseason after having a foot surgery to remove a bone that had apparently been troubling him since high school. Instead of an offseason that prepared him to take the reins of this Colts team, Wentz has had a week and a half of actual practices and will now be sent out to run a new offense.
Regardless of his trajectory as the Colts starting quarterback and how it pans out, week one is exactly when you want to be playing against the Colts. Carson Wentz just hasn’t had enough time to merge well with this team, and it will show up on Sunday.
The Colts defense is a solid unit of players who are fit well to the scheme that DC Matt Eberflus wants to run. They tackle well, they swarm to the ball, and they are opportunistic at the point of attack. Led by DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard, this is a group to respect for any offense. Unfortunately, they aren’t without some questions, and the biggest one is a pretty serious one.
Since the retirement of Robert Mathis in 2016, the Colts have been without a true pass rusher in their prime. Even Justin Houston’s admirable 2019 season where he netted 11 sacks was a picture of an elite player who was past his prime and padded his stats against bad offensive lines. Robert Mathis’ 2013 season was the last year the team had a true difference making edge rusher on the roster.
That question remains unanswered to begin the 2021 NFL season. The Colts have addressed the position. They have Kemoko Turay, Ben Banogu, and Tyquan Lewis, who all provide the potential to be great impact players on the edge. All have flashed in moments, but due to injury or fading against quality competition, none of put it all together.
On the interior, the defensive line is rock solid, with Grover Stewart and DeForest Buckner dominating the offensive linemen across from them. But with a mobile passer like Russell Wilson under center, that simply will not be enough.
The addition of first round pick Kwity Paye certainly has created intrigue among Colts fans, but this is an untested rookie. He has beaten up on backup offensive linemen this offseason. With a complete question at the position and facing a quarterback who can absolutely carve up a defense even when he is under pressure, the uncertainty of a quality defense to be able to put pressure on the quarterback has to be a major concern heading into Sunday’s game.
If there is a true weakness on the Colts defense, or indeed the team in general, it is at the cornerback position. Kenny Moore is an absolutely stellar nickel cornerback, and one of the best in the league at his position. Unfortunately, all certainty begins and ends there.
Xavier Rhodes has had a great career, and saw a resurgence since joining the Colts. However, the track record of long-term success for 31-year-old cornerbacks is not great, and Xavier Rhodes is already on the Colts injury report, missing practice Wednesday with a calf injury. (Editor’s note: Rhodes is now ruled out)
Behind those two, the room gets bleaker still. Rock Ya-Sin is the Colts 3rd year corner who has struggled to really improve on any of his areas of weakness as a pro. He struggles to locate the ball in the air, and has a tendency to panic and get grabby when faced with superior receivers. That tendency has gotten him in hot water because he’s now got a reputation with officials that ends with him getting consistently flagged.
There is always the possibility that Ya-Sin can take steps toward being a better player, and there is no doubt that the position is a tough one to learn, but when you have a player who continues to struggle with the same things year after year, it is fair to question.
Should any of these guys go down, the depth at the position is spotty at best. Given a lack of guaranteed pass rush, that makes the job of these guys even tougher, and against a top 5 quarterback in the league, that’s a really big problem.
So there you have it, Seahawks fans. Don’t fret, and don’t concern yourselves with week one. This Colts team may get to face you on the road, but that road is going to be tougher for them than it is for you. Good luck in the remainder of the season, but just know that you won’t need luck this week, because there’s plenty of reason to think you’ve got it in the bag already.
Thanks to Chris for giving us some insight on the Colts, and may all of his concerns be completely justified on Sunday!