In the first game of the preseason, the Colts barely defeated the Seahawks 19-17 in one of the strangest preseason games in a long time. The entire Colts team lacked in focus, fumbling the ball an absurd combined seven times, recovering six. Brad Kaaya fumbled the snap three (yes, I’m serious) times in a row in the fourth, with the last resulting in a touchdown. Looks like Brad Kaaya did his best Peyton Manning impression. That sounds good in theory but not in practice. Preseason mode was in full force on Thursday.
This game featured the long-awaited return of Andrew Luck, an excruciating 585-day hiatus from the game of football. Luck only played two drives extending early into the second quarter but he looked solid, going 6-9 for 64 yards. Importantly, Luck got hit and got up, a sign he needed to see. Luck ran a lot of check-downs but missed a few tight throws to T.Y. Hilton. He was understandably a bit rusty but did a great job in his first game back in almost two years.
Marlon Mack only rushed for nine yards on four carries but he caught two balls for 23 yards. He looked shifty, explosive, and did a good job fighting through contact. Robert Turbin ran hard as well, posting 27 yards on six carries and 18 yards on two catches. The best inside runner on the roster, he will be extremely valuable for the Colts after he serves his four-game suspension. Nyhiem Hines looked decent in space but he struggled to create any space. Hines had the yips tonight, fumbling three punt returns and struggling.
The Colts struggled to finish drives, resulting in four field goals through three quarters: three by Adam Vinatieri and one by rookie Michael Badgley. A Darrell Daniels touchdown in the fourth netted the Colts their first touchdown of the season. No receiver stole the show but guys like K.J. Brent and Zach Pascal made plays. Phillip Walker made a few very good throws and showed a good connection with Kasen Williams, who caught three balls for 46 yards. Walker had had a few bad misses and a fumbled snap but finished a promising day going 5-8, throwing for 88 yards and a score.
Quenton Nelson absolutely dominated on the offensive line. He only lost a battle in pass protection once and dominated in the run game. Once Nelson gets his hands on a defender, they are stuck. The rest of the line struggled, allowing three total sacks and seven QB hits. Rookie Braden Smith struggled in pass protection and in the run game, botching plays and missing assignments.
The defense looked completely lost at times but in the end, they did a good job of not breaking. The defensive line struggled early to get pressure on the quarterback but ended up amassing four sacks and seven QB hits. Tarell Basham and John Simon both did a great job penetrating into the backfield and creating pressure; Simon finished with 1.5 sacks, two QB hits, and three tackles. Denico Autry flashed his positional versatility, playing well in the run and pass game. Hassan Ridgeway pressured the quarterback multiple times as well, dominating Seattle’s backup line for two sacks, two hits, and three tackles for loss. The defensive line struggled at times against the run, allowing 87 total yards.
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Nobody stood out in coverage except Nate Hairston who intercepted Austin Davis in the second quarter. He did an excellent job covering a crossing route and jumping on a bad read. Skai Moore and Matt Adams both did a great job in coverage, reading the quarterback’s eyes and breaking on balls. Both linebackers recorded a pass deflection. All of the Colts did a good job securing tackles; missed tackles have been a huge hindrance for the Colts in these past years.
I have never seen an Andrew Luck era Colts team looked as disciplined and tough as this unit did tonight. The Colts played a clean (minus the fumbles) game for three quarters, specifically in the first half, recording five penalties to Seattle’s 12. A Shamarko Thomas ejection in the fourth was the only major blemish. The Colts defense was fast, violent, and they all played hard, something we rarely saw under Chuck Pagano. This team–specifically the defense–struggled against Seattle’s’ first unit but didn’t release control of the game. Most importantly, the Colts come away from this game mostly injury free aside from a knee injury from Deon Cain and a hamstring injury to Marlon Mack. The Colts, under Frank Reich, seemed to have turned a corner in 2018. Indianapolis takes on Baltimore in their preseason home opener on Monday, August 20th.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.