After Jeff Saturday’s ‘storybook’ teaching debut, the Colts’ offensive woes are again within the highlight

For at the least every week, the Indianapolis Colts have been on prime. Name it a form of honeymoon part.

Interim coach Jeff Saturday and the franchise, after breaking the unwritten legal guidelines of shifting up the teaching ranks in Saturday’s hiring, beat the Raiders on the street to finish a three-game shedding streak.

After a tumultuous season, with the firing of Frank Reich, the Colts noticed cause for hope. One thing to construct on. The offensive line seemed the very best it had all season. Jonathan Taylor seemed similar to himself. Matt Ryan, reinstated because the beginning quarterback, led a game-winning drive. And placing all of it collectively was Saturday, who, regardless of his lack of teaching expertise, introduced plain juice and management at a tough time.

“I am unsure there’s a greater storybook ending for the primary sport,” Saturday mentioned in Las Vegas.

However the fairy story is over.

As a substitute? The truth that has outlined the Colts 2022.

Because it has for a lot of the season, the offense collapsed in Indianapolis’ 17-16 dwelling loss on Sunday to the Eagles. The Colts blew a 10-point second-half result in fall to 4-6-1 on the season. They’ve simply an 18% probability of creating the playoffs and a 2% probability of profitable the AFC South, in line with FiveThirtyEight.

“Plenty of ought to have, would have, may have, proper?” middle Ryan Kelly mentioned after the sport. “However the NFL is not like that.”

After the Eagles took a 17-16 lead, the Colts had the ball with 1:20 left and a timeout. It was an ideal alternative for Ryan, a confirmed key participant, to place collectively a game-winning unit. Nonetheless, he did not even get an opportunity. On third-and-9 from the Colts 40-yard line, Eagles defensive finish Brandon Graham plowed his manner by way of rookie left sort out Bernhard Raimann. Ryan was sacked for a lack of seven yards.

The determined fourth-down try that adopted was made tougher by proper guard Will Fries, known as for a false begin. That turned a 4th-and-16 right into a 4th-and-21, ending the sport (operating again Deon Jackson was capable of amass simply 5 yards earlier than being pushed out of bounds).

These two moments, the sack and the penalty, highlighted a sport by which the Colts’ costly offensive line, every week after its greatest efficiency of the season, was once more the staff’s Achilles heel.

Raimann and Fries, untested starters, accounted for 5 of the eight penalties in opposition to the Eagles, costing 35 yards on drives that might have given the Colts a cushion. Ryan was additionally sacked 4 instances within the second half after not being sacked as soon as earlier than halftime.

The most costly? On the finish of the fourth quarter.

On third-and-goal from the Eagles 5-yard line, with the Colts knocking on the door for a landing, Ryan was sacked for a 14-yard loss. Hassan Reddick beat Raimann to the sting.

That sack value Indianapolis 4 factors, resulting in a discipline aim that gave it a lead of solely six factors. The Eagles drove downfield on their ensuing possession for a landing (and PAT) that gave them the go-ahead rating.

It wasn’t simply cross safety that was an issue. Taylor didn’t have the racing lanes to function. After eight carries for 49 yards and a landing within the first quarter, he averaged simply 2.5 yards per keep on his 14 dashing makes an attempt the remainder of the sport.

Sunday was a reminder of the dismal state of the Colts’ offensive line, which accounts for a league-high 19.5% of the staff’s salary-cap house.

Via 11 video games, there is no proof the unit can discover consistency.

“I assumed the hassle was nice. These guys have been pushing and preventing and doing their greatest, however once more, it is the main points that matter,” Saturday mentioned of the offensive line. “Simply going again and coaching these advantageous particulars, ensuring we perceive it, after which executing it.”

The Colts’ protection has finished its half. He has been a stabilizing power within the midst of a disappointing season.

Positive, Jalen Hurts received away with it on the finish of the sport. However the Eagles, a staff within the prime three to attain getting into the sport, discovered themselves held to a season-low 17 factors.

DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart lead a stable protection in opposition to the run. Having fun with a breakout Professional Bowl-caliber season, inside linebacker Zaire Franklin leads the NFL in mixed tackles by way of Sunday (109). Stephon Gilmore has proven that he’s nonetheless an ideal cornerback. Defensive backs Rodney McLeod Jr., Kenny Moore and Isaiah Rodgers have additionally made well timed performs within the secondary.

“Hear, hats off to (defensive coordinator) Gus (Bradley) and the whole protection,” Saturday mentioned. “These guys performed it onerous. To carry Philly to 17 factors the best way they did, I imply to me, that is a game-winning efficiency from these guys.”

“They performed it onerous. They did a extremely good job, they’d an ideal plan, they executed it, and to prime all of it off, we had three of the fellows who have been sick all week and mainly could not follow. Not simply recover from the sickness, however The best way they performed, I instructed Gus I assumed they’d an ideal efficiency, they gave us a whole lot of possibilities to win.”

Alternatives: that was not capitalized.

The protection has no actual assist. The offense has disenchanted all season. Via quarterback modifications, offensive line changes and training changes, the offense finds a strategy to return to the underperforming unit it has been since September.

That is the fact he faces on Saturday.

From the best way the Colts’ season has gone, there is no storybook fairly ending.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand labored for The Tennessean / USA TODAY Community, the place he was the author for the Titans for a yr and a half. He coated the Seattle Seahawks for for 3 seasons (2018-20) earlier than shifting to Tennessee. You may observe Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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