At this point in the Frank Reich era in Indianapolis, the red zone struggles are becoming a massive problem.
Those issues popped up once again on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams as the Colts failed two score from inside the Rams' 5 yard line twice in a 27-24 loss, dropping the Colts to 0-2 on the season.
On the same day the Colts honored Pro Football Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James, the Colts turned in another rough offensive performance despite putting up 24 points.
Opening up the Week 2 game against the Rams, Indianapolis marched right down the field on the Rams' top defense, wasting a great kick return by Isaiah Rodgers to open the game.
Seven plays and 49 yards later, the Colts faced first and goal at the 1 yard line and couldn't pick up a single yard. Running back Jonathan Taylor was stuffed three times on runs up the middle before quarterback Carson Wentz was sacked on fourth town for the turnover on downs just one possession into the game.
Two drives later the Colts marched deep into Los Angeles territory again, facing a first and goal at the Rams' 10 yard line. Wentz found second-year wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. for seven yards, but Taylor then was stuffed on second and goal before Wentz was picked off on an ill-advised shovel pass on third down, resulting in another turnover inside the Rams' 5 yard line, wasting two opportunities at points in a three-point loss, which was a key talking point for Reich after the game with reporters.
"Very disappointing," Reich said to reporters after the loss regarding the offensive performance in the red zone. "We didn’t do a good job on offense. I say offense collectively. We’ve got the ball on the one-yard line, and we didn’t gut it in. We called three runs and we don’t get any of the runs in and the last one is a roll-out pass. We had a little trickery in how we called it with the play before. They were ready for it, so it wasn’t coached well enough. We got to get it in from the one-yard line. That hurt us. I didn’t call the right play and we didn’t execute well enough, so that’s on all of us.”
Asked about the first failure to score on Sunday on the first possession of the game, Reich stated that he did consider calling a passing play earlier in the sequence prior to the fourth down failure.
“Yeah on fourth down. Get them on a surprise you know, like we went really fast like we were going to run it again and that was the ‘deception,'" Reich said. "It’s something that some teams do, we’ve done it before successfully. We have to trust in our offense and run the football. It felt like the way we moved down the field. I just look at this thing right here. We’re one-for-four in the red zone. That’s basically the story. Every other area was pretty equal. We’ve just got to play better in the red zone.”
In the end though, the Colts' top-flight couldn't gain a yard on the ground, which is more concerning than the perceived play calling. For a team built around a power rushing attack, the Colts should have been able to get Taylor into the end zone on one of the attempts, or felt comfortable enough to call a QB sneak for Wentz.
Instead, the Colts wasted a prime opportunity at home and ultimately paid for it on the scoreboard in the end.
Have thoughts on the Colts' lack of success inside the 5 yard line Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!