The first quarter of the 2018 season is over. A somber tone has set in amongst the Colts fan base. Some fans are already calling it in, and are optimistic for next year, while others still cling onto small shreds of hope and pride. Sunday was a heartbreaker. After battling back from an 18 point deficit, the Colts could only watch, as Houston Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn nailed a 37 yarder to win in overtime. Now Indianapolis finds themselves at 1-3, and last place in the AFC South. Weeks 1-4 weren’t pretty, but there are pieces to build on moving forward.
1) Andrew Luck’s shoulder is healthy, and this past Sunday was proof. 40 completions on 64 attempts for 464 yards (all career highs) 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against Houston. He played as well as you could as for, against a solid defensive team in the Houston Texans. Yes, there were some early miscues, but overall, this was classic Andrew Luck, and let’s hope he’s here to stay.
2) Nyheim Hines is stepping up as a quality receiving back. Whether it’s snaps from the slot, or coming out of the backfield, Hines has shown that he belongs in this Indianapolis offense. At 22 receptions after four weeks, the rookie is on pace to catch 88 passes this year. That production will likely taper off, as I don’t see Luck throwing 62 passes again anytime soon; However, it’s good to see Luck has found another reliable target.
3) It’s not just Darius Leonard making noise on the defense. While the rookie did perform admirably on Sunday, several others joined in what was a festival of sacks on Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. Indianapolis sacked Watson 7 times with 8 Colts registering at least 0.5 sacks on the day. They also registered 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 11 quarterback hits. Indianapolis also recorded 2 pass deflections and an interception by cornerback Pierre Desir.
My grade for this quarter is D+. While there are plenty of positive takeaways, the Colts need to finish their work. 17 sacks in 4 weeks is great, a 9:3 TD to INT ratio for Luck is great, but it means nothing if they don’t register W’s.
The Colts do however have something to work with. They have a foundation, a ton of young talent, and a bunch of cap space to make waves in the off-season or potentially before the trade deadline. With whispers of trade interest in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell have being heard, as well as, the need for wide receiver help, the Colts look like a potential landing spot for big acquisitions. While Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard has long been focused on building the team through the draft, you have to wonder if he’ll want to spend at least some of the Colts’ hard earned nest egg. Names like Bell and Dez Bryant have been tossed around, but plenty of big names are set to be on the free agent market in 2019. Names like Green Bay wide receiver Randall Cobb, Detroit wide receiver Golden Tate, Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and Houston outside linebacker Jedeveon Clowney are all set to be unrestricted free agents. It’s hard to predict what Ballard will do, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities.