The Indianapolis Colts finally had their "get right" game, cruising to a 31-3 victory over the Houston Texans. While this was a game that the Colts had every advantage in going into the game, it was great to see the team bounce back from the embarrassing loss on the Monday prior.
With the All-22 film out from this past game, I decided to dive into my key observations/takeaways from the game.
1.) Big Play Carson Wentz
When the Colts made the big trade for Carson Wentz, many analysts (including myself) expected a return to a downfield passing attack that the Colts had in prior seasons. Through the first four weeks of the season, though, that didn't appear to be the case.
However, Wentz started taking bigger shots down the field last week against the Baltimore Ravens, and that continued on Sunday against the Texans. Wentz only completed 11 passes, but threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the win. That is an outstanding 20.2 yards per completion (and 11.15 yards per attempt)!
While there are still a few easy misses from Wentz each game, the revival of the deep ball is something the Colts desperately needed from him. Those underneath misses are a concern, but it is easy to overlook when the offense is hitting on these chunk plays.
This game was just a masterclass effort by Wentz in terms of aggressiveness, timing, and placement on the deep ball. His ability to connect on these passes is a huge reason why the score was so lopsided this past Sunday.
2.) Khari Willis Bounce-Back
This game was more than just a bounce-back game for the Colts. Safety Khari Willis, now in his third year, had a much needed return to form against the Texans.
In a year where many expected Willis to take the next step forward, he started 2021 on the wrong note. He allowed three touchdowns in coverage in the first two games, and then landed on the injury report in week three. Now, as he is finally healthy, he looks like the Willis we all expected coming into the year.
Willis did a little bit of everything in this game. He had an impressive blitz that resulted in his second sack of the season, had a near interception in the redzone, and showed his ability to come down from his safety position and make plays.
Overall, Willis desperately needed a performance like this after his start to the season. It was great to see a young, talented safety back out there making plays for the Colts' defense.
3.) Rhodes.... Open?
Speaking of players having a rough start to the season, Xavier Rhodes doesn't look anything like the corner the Colts had in 2020. His play in 2020 was an excellent return to form, but he is starting to look a lot more like his 2019 self this year.
The biggest drop-off that I have seen on film is just the lack of athleticism. Rhodes looks labored in his movements on the outside, and he is playing like he is terrified of being beat over the top. In just four games played, he has allowed 118 yards on 13 completions (along with three pass interference penalties). He also has yet to record a pass breakup or interception on the year.
At this point in the season, it is time to worry about Rhodes as the number one corner. Teams are beginning to target him in coverage, and he simply isn't holding up. If these struggles persist, the Colts would be wise to start athletic, young corner Isaiah Rodgers over him for the remainder of the year.
4.) Eric Fisher's Run Game Dominance
I have been pretty hard on Eric Fisher since his return to the starting lineup in week two. While I understand that he is still coming back from a major injury, his performance in pass protection thus far has simply been terrible.
Stepping away from the criticism for a week, his run blocking was borderline dominant on Sunday. He was able to create a ton of space on double teams with running mate Chris Reed, and he looked great getting out in space.
While I still think that Fisher needs to start showing major strides in the pass game soon, I can also acknowledge that he has been a positive impact player as a run blocker this year. If he can just get his pass blocking up to an adequate level, at the least, the Colts will be fine at left tackle.
5.) The Return of Paye
Sunday marked the return of the Colts' highly talented pass rusher Kwity Paye. Paye, the Colts' first round pick in this past draft, had been out since week three with a hamstring injury.
Paye's return to the starting lineup had a very little impact on the Colts' pass rushing woes, as the league's worst pass rush struggled to win reps against the Texans' backup offensive linemen. While it is way too early to even be worried about Paye going forward, this does continue a bad trend with this defense.
He flashed a decent amount and his energy/hustle was outstanding all game long. His development is a process, and the hope is that he just continually becomes more impactful (and stays healthy) as the year goes on.
6.) The Return of Rock
The Colts also had another important defender return to the starting lineup in cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin has arguably been the Colts' best cornerback this year, so it was great to see the improving young corner back on the field.
Ya-Sin wasn't outstanding by any means, but it was a good return for him. He contested a few passes underneath, didn't allow anything over the top, and had a nice pass breakup on third down in the second half.
He did re-aggravate his ankle late in the game, so hopefully he is good to go after some rest. The Colts certainly need him for this big match-up on Sunday night against the San Fransisco 49ers.
7.) Play of the Game: Isaiah Rodgers' First Career Pick
While I could have chose a more impactful play for this category, it only felt right to include this outstanding interception from Isaiah Rodgers. Rodgers has been taking great strides as a corner this year, and this play summarizes those positive improvements well.
He pinches the receiver to the sideline, gets in phase, and becomes the receiver when the ball is in the air. He didn't panic whatsoever, and he made a great play on the ball to come down with his first career interception. Just a great play by an exciting young player.
8.) Play-Call of the Week: Ghost on the Post
The play-call of the week comes on the gorgeous deep ball to T.Y Hilton over the top of the Texans' defense in the second quarter. This was an excellent call to scheme the veteran receiver open against the cover-two defense look.
Frak Reich knows that the Texans like to sit in cover-two for a majority of the game and drew up a play that feasts on that. He sends Hilton on a deep post behind the safety at the bottom of the screen, and he sends Michael Pittman Jr on a deep out to draw that safety up.
Wentz only has to read what the safety is doing on this design. Once he sees the safety takes a few steps forward, he knows to uncork for the big play. Elite throw by Wentz and a great catch by Hilton to finish off the play.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.