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Five Questions with Stampede Blue

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

We had a chance to ask five questions to our sister site, Stampede Blue, about the upcoming game against the Indianapolis Colts.

1. Let’s be frank. What the hell happened last week?

That's a great question.  I think we can boil it down to a few main things that went wrong. Firstly, let's just be honest: Andrew Luck was off.  It was not one of his better games by any means, The way this team is built is all around Luck, and that's normally not a bad thing - but that also means that, when Luck struggles, the entire team will look pretty bad.  That's exactly what happened last week.  Furthermore, the Bills used a furious blitzing attack to throw the Colts' offense completely off rhythm and make things look even worse.  Those are two of the biggest takeaways from the game, and we also must give credit to a very good Bills defense as well.

2. The last I remember of the Colts, the team was struggling on defense, particularly when it came to stopping the run. Has that changed? Do you think they’ll be able to stop Chris Ivory?

Let's put it this way: there's cautious optimism to be sure, but I'm not going to go ahead and say the defense is much better after just one game. If you just look at the numbers from week one, it might appear as if the Colts still struggled against the run, as they gave up 147 yards on the ground to the Bills. But that really wasn't the case - outside of a 41-yard quarterback scramble by Tyrod Taylor and a 26-yard touchdown rush by Karlos Williams, the Colts defense gave up just 90 yards on 34 carries (2.6 yards per rush).  Now, those big plays still count to be sure, but it wasn't the continual, every-down struggles we've seen from the Colts run defense in the past.  So there's reason for optimism, especially with newcomers Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson standing out in week one along the defensive line.  With all of that said, however, it was only one game.  This week against the Jets, I think we might see something similar - playing overall better against the run but giving up a couple of key big plays.  That's better than it used to be, but they still will need to cut out those big plays if they hope to be a great defense.

3. How would you attack the Colts if you were game-planning against them?

Going against the Colts' defense, I would throw the football away from Vontae Davis.  The Colts have several injuries at cornerback, and I'm skeptical that either Greg Toler or Darius Butler will play - meaning the Colts could be without their number two and three corners, while D'Joun Smith - likely their number four corner - was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return this week.  That leaves guys like Jalil Brown and Sheldon Price to play big roles this week, and while they were standouts in training camp and preseason, it's an entirely different thing to play a big role in a regular season game.  We all know that Vontae Davis is a shutdown corner and he might shadow Brandon Marshall, but if I'm the Jets, I'm targeting the other cornerbacks and their inexperience quite a bit, while also targeting the inside linebackers in the run game.  Get the defensive linemen blocked and take your chances at running at the inside linebackers, who have struggled.

Going against the Colts' offense, I would apply a similar tactic as the Bills did last week - blitzing.  I'm more confident that Andrew Luck will be able to beat that this week, but at least make him prove it.  With how easily the Bills disrupted the Colts with the blitz, I think the Jets at least need to make Luck beat them, and until he does, keep it coming.  We also saw last week that, while the Colts have a deep receiver position, they can be taken out of a game by good cornerback play - and considering the fact that the Jets have depth at the position (plus Darrelle Revis), they should use that to their advantage.

4. What are the best and worst units on the Colts?

The best is the quarterback position, but that's solely because of Andrew Luck being the best player on the team.  The deepest, however, is probably the wide receiver position, with T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett all providing weapons for Luck.  They have areas in which they need to improve, but the talent there is undeniable.

The worst position for the Colts is a more interesting discussion.  I think the interior of the offensive line is a weakness for sure (at center and left guard in particular) and they can be exposed.  The starting inside linebackers were the biggest weakness on the defensive side of the football last week, as they struggled against the run (something we saw last year too).  And the pass rush didn't manage a single quarterback hit on Tyrod Taylor last week, which is another area the Colts struggled at last year.  Depending on the week, I think you could make a strong case for any of those three areas being the biggest weakness for the team.

5. Predictions for the game, and for your season?

I do think the Colts will manage to pull out this game at home.  Week one provided a reality check of sorts for them (though I don't know why they needed it after that blowout in the AFC Championship game), and they have rebounded from losses remarkably well under Chuck Pagano, going 14-1 the week after a loss.  I think they'll be motivated, they'll be improved, and they'll be able to pull out a win.

As for the season, the Colts should still be able to win the AFC South, therefore making the playoffs.  Then, it's a matter of getting hot, and the Colts have the rest of the season to work on their issues.  I think it's way too early to write off this team as a legitimate contender, as they'll be able to work on getting things fixed.