Just minutes after watching his Indianapolis Colts — specifically his offensive line — underperform and drop a 28-16 decision to the visiting Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, head coach Frank Reich was rather mum on the performance in the trenches, citing the need to see the film.
On Tuesday, after reviewing the film and coming to a conclusion on the poor performance, Reich was pretty candid about the play in the trenches on the offensive side of the football, telling Indianapolis Star insider Joel A. Erickson that the Colts' play along the offensive line was "not up to our standards."
That's pretty telling coming from Reich, who is rather level headed and even keeled when it comes to addressing the performance of his players through the media.
As a unit, the Colts' offensive line allowed three sacks of new quarterback Carson Wentz and an additional 10 quarterback hits, giving him flashbacks to a rough 2020 season that saw him be sacked 50 times in 12 games while taking countless other quarterback hits.
“Overall, the protection aspect was probably not up to our standards," Reich said to Erickson after watching the film. “There was a little bit more to it than just the offensive line play, but we need to be better. We need to be better as coaches, we need to be better as players in that area. We have very high standards there.”
The performance of the offensive line, which had to start journeyman left tackle Julien Davenport at left tackle as Eric Fisher continues his recovery from a torn Achilles, was well below the standard the Colts have created in the trenches under Reich and General Manager Chris Ballard.
In fact, in Reich’s first three seasons in Indianapolis, the Colts finished first, tied for ninth and tied for second in the league in sacks allowed, establishing themselves as arguably the best all-around offensive line in the NFL, aided by a dominant rushing attack.
The ability in pass protection under Reich has been centered around detailed preparations for that week's opponent's blitz package, according to Erickson. The Colts were prepared for Seattle's elaborate fire blitz package, but the players along the offensive line simply weren't up to snuff.
“We do a really extensive blitz game plan, as far as what we could do on third down,” Colts center Ryan Kelly said following Sunday's loss. “I think we had a pretty good idea of what they were doing, and everything that we planned for, we saw. We just didn’t execute the best we could.”
While Davenport struggled mightily, allowing two sacks, one quarterback hit, three hurries and six total pressures in the loss, star right tackle Braden Smith had arguably the worst game of his career, according to our own Zach Hicks.
With the struggles at both tackles on Sunday, and with Smith dealing with a foot injury that could linger, the Colts could find themselves in even more trouble moving forward until Fisher is back and Smith is healthy as depth is rather poor.
It won't get any easier in Week 2 for the Colts either as they prepare to take on the vaunted Los Angeles Rams' front seven, led by future first-ballot Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Here's hoping the standard is met by the Colts' offensive line in Week 2.
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