With the Colts and Texans Week One game now complete, who is trending up? Who is trending down?
It seems to be that the Week One curse still is hovering over the Colts. There were many mistakes, missed moments, and it was an overall a bad game for the team. Let’s focus on some positive things and not the negative items first.
Colts E.J. Speed And Zaire Franklin Trending Up
This is a two-for-one special. A lot of attention was focused on Shaquille Leonard not being active, but E.J. Speed and Zaire Franklin came to play! Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton called a spectacular game on Sunday.
Quick passes, counter runs, and a up tempo game plan, Houston kept Colts defensive players on their toes. Speed and Franklin had big shoes to fill, but they achieved and even outperformed what many believed they could do. The question is: can they keep this momentum going as Leonard continues to prepare for a healthy season?
Colts Michael Pittman, Jr. Trending Up
Pittman came out fighting on Sunday. The receiver brought in nine receptions from 13 targets for 121 yards and one touchdown. He showed the Texan’s first-rounder Derek Stingley that this is a grown man’s game, as he became Matt Ryan’s main target. Seemingly to be the team’s number one receiving option at times, Pittman put his skills on display.
He fought through smothering coverages despite new Texans head coach Lovie Smith calling one hell of a game. A mix of zone and man coverages made it hard for Matt Ryan to find any other receiver. This year is one that Pittman should take a step forward and become one of the league’s premiere pass catchers. This Week One game showed that not only is he capable, but he’s ready to ball out.
Colts Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship Trending Down
With a chance to end the game in overtime, Blankenship missed a 42-yard go-ahead field goal. The comeback story was in the bag with two minutes left, but it turned into a story of sadness. Is Rodrigo the kicker that the Colts need? No, but he’s the one they have.
Being a standout for Georgia in college, Blankenship went an outstanding 100% on extra points made and slightly over 80% in completion percentage on field goals made. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard picked Blankenship up as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2020. Having up and downs each season since he’s been in the NFL, Blankenship has errors at the most important times of games, including yesterday. For example, he sailed two kicks out of bounds, setting the Texans up with good field position.
Blankenship needs to improve sooner rather than later or the Colts could be looking for a new placekicker. Close games are relevant in the postseason and with this year’s team having deeper aspirations, they need him to be reliable. Field goals are crucial and must be made.
Colts Head Coach Frank Reich Trending Down
A questionable call on fourth and goal that included running the wildcat formation with Nyheim Hines was unacceptable. Fans might have been questioning why Reich didn’t take the opportunity to get three points or at least run it in with the team’s bell cow running back, Jonathan Taylor, for six points. Getting Hines more touches in the backfield, while driving down the field, would have utilized his skillset better.
Week One is a rough draft of what Colts fans think the story of the season will be. Frank Reich has some tweaks to do, especially with another divisional game this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Potentially starting the season 0-1-1 is scary for fans, but it could also be the burners on Coach Reich’s seat heating up.
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