Finally, a checkmark in the win column for the Indianapolis Colts.
On Sunday inside Hard Rock Stadium, the Colts shook off a slow start against the host Miami Dolphins, established a physical rushing attack, got after Dolphins’ quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the pocket and forced some turnovers, leading to a solid 27-17 win to move to 1-3 on the season.
While the win feels great to talk about after three weeks of misery, there’s still some issues that remain with the Indianapolis Colts’ roster. A win is a win though, so let’s enjoy it and talk about it.
Let’s get to some grades from Sunday’s performance.
QB — B+
Playin on one healthy leg, Carson Wentz had a really strong game on the road for the Colts.
Wentz finished 24-for-32 for 228 yards and two touchdowns, pushing the football down the field and finding some of his weapons to create some splash for the Colts’ offense.
On the day, Wentz averaged 8.38 yards per attempt, which is a terrific number in today’s game. He was safe with the football and real did well finding the open man, knowing when to take what was there, and when to push the ball downfield.
He even added some options to the run game, scrambling a few times, including a 10-yarder to get out from the shadow of his own end zone early in the game. Overall, Wentz still continues to hold onto the football a bit too long, which led to a pair of sacks on Sunday, but he’s really settled into the Colts’ system under Frank Reich.
RB – A-
On the road, the Colts leaned heavily on the run game with Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack, chewing up the Dolphins’ defense throughout the game.
Taylor had his best performance of the season, gaining 103 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, ripping off a 23-yard touchdown and later helped seal the win with a 38-yard scamper down the left sideline after making a defender miss in space.
With Taylor rolling, the offense had a ton of balance, allowing the Colts to utilize play-action throughout the game.
Marlon Mack received a ton of work one week after the report came out that the Colts and Mack were mutually exploring a trade. Mack looked good on 10 carries, gaining 22 yards and was targeted twice out of the backfield.
Nyheim Hines wasn’t used as much on the ground, receiving two carries and gaining seven yards and added just two catches for five yards out of the backfield.
It was very clearly a day schemed up for Taylor and Mack to punish the Dolphins’ front seven on the ground. Mission accomplished.
WR — B-
Another week, another solid showing from the Indianapolis Colts’ young wide receivers.
Michael Pittman Jr. continues to emerge as a solid possession receiver while gaining the trust and confidence of Wentz. Pittman Jr. was targeted eight times on Sunday, hauling in six balls for 59 yards in the win. Pittman Jr. isn’t going to threaten many teams deep, but he’s a big, physical receiver that can win contested catches and serve as that possession receiver that will consistently move the chains.
Same goes for Zach Pascal, who is having a strong season for the Colts to date. Pascal caught another four passes on Sunday for 44 yards, though his one catch went for 41 yards. He will stretch the field vertically on over routes and succeed consistently, which is a perfect role for him.
The Colts tried to work Parris Campbell deep on Sunday, but Wentz and the young receiver just couldn’t connect on a pair of targets down the field. That said, Campbell finished with two catches for 22 yards, including a key 12-yarder to move the chains.
I’m curious to see how this group takes off on the field once T.Y. Hilton returns.
TE — A+
What a performance from a duo that is often underutilized.
Mo Alie-Cox finally got some work in the passing game and dominated, finishing with three catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns, his second of which was a highlight-reel grab over Dolphins defensive back Eric Rowe. His 28-yarder also set the tone early for the Colts’ offense, which shook off a bit of a slumber to get going.
Jack Doyle also made a great play downfield, hauling in a 24-yard contested catch in the middle of the field, wrestling the ball away from the Dolphins’ defense for the splash play to move the chains.
These guys are sure-handed receivers and need to be involved more. Hopefully as the Colts’ offense continues to get healthy we’ll start to see Alie-Cox and Doyle used as receivers more often.
OL — C+
The Colts definitely got back to running the football on Sunday, which was much needed for an offense that has struggled to find balance early in the season.
I thought center Ryan Kelly was pretty dang solid on Sunday after struggling through three weeks. He’s starting to get healthy and his level of play is returning. Right guard Mark Glowinski battled through a knee injury and played well in the run game, getting out in front on some runs to spring Taylor, while left guard Chris Reed was pretty good in place of the injured Quenton Nelson.
Tackles remain an issue though. Eric Fisher was really rough on Sunday and was walked back into Wentz often on Sunday, while Julien Davenport was a train-wreck again, leading to his benching for Matt Pryor, who was a slight upgrade.
It was a better day overall for the line, but there’s still a ton of room to improve up front.
DL — B+
The Colts’ defensive line bounced back in a big way on Sunday on the road against the Dolphins. The group up front helped hold the Dolphins to just 35 rushing yards in the win, and really got after Jacoby Brissett in the game, hitting him four times and sacking him three times, one of which caused a fumble.
The Dolphins focused heavily on DeForest Buckner and it opened up opportunities for Grover Stewart, Kemoko Turay, Isaac Rochell, Tyquan Lewis and Al-Quadin Muhammad throughout the day.
Stewart forced the fumble on Brissett, Turay recorded two sacks, Rochell added a couple of run stops and Lewis tossed Miami’s Jakeem Grant like a rag-doll on a jet sweep, showing off impressive strength.
LB — B+
Darius Leonard continues to make plays, which is extremely encouraging for this defense.
Leonard recorded an interception, nearly had a second, and recovered Brissett’s fumble in the second half that led to a Colts touchdown. He’s starting to show some of that range once again and is constantly around the football.
So is Bobby Okereke, who has really rebounded from a rough start to look like the linebacker the Colts were hoping he’d be in year three.
Combined, the duo recorded 16 tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass deflections. I’ll take that every week from those two.
Zaire Franklin looked solid in run situations, recording three run stops on the day.
DB — B
While the Colts held the Dolphins to just 199 passing yards on the day, I wasn’t too thrilled with some of the play in the secondary, specifically at safety in Julian Blackmon, and with veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Rhodes was called for another defensive pass interference in the game and hasn’t really looked like himself overall since coming back from the calf injury. Blackmon missed a couple of tackles in space and looked to be guessing throughout the game.
I thought veteran Andrew Sendejo had a decent game getting game action in place of Khari Willis. He didn’t have any big plays and didn’t stick out due to blunders.
I’d like to see more splash from this group overall though. It can’t just be Kenny Moore at this point.
Special Teams — B-
The only real issue with special teams on the day was Nyheim Hines’ muffed punt to open the game, giving the Dolphins possession again, which led to three points. You just don’t see that from him, and it came at the worst possible moment.
Aside from that, special teams was pretty solid. Rodrigo Blankenship drilled both field goal attempts on the day, while Rigoberto Sanchez was terrific punting the football directionally, averaging 50 yards per punt, downing two inside the Dolphins’ 20 yard line.
Have thoughts on the Colts’ positional grades coming out of Sunday’s win? Drop a line in the comment section below letting us know how you feel!