Colts Notebook: Frank Reich Talks Second-Half Struggles Versus Texans
Andy Lyons | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – Even with a 7-day break from the Wild Card Round to the Divisional Round, Frank Reich is keeping the same schedule this week for his football team.
That means just 2 practices again this week (during the regular season you have 3 practices on a normal week).
The Colts had a walk-through on Tuesday, will practice Wednesday and Thursday, before a final walk-through on Friday and then departing for Kansas City later in the afternoon, with kickoff coming again at 4:35 PM on Saturday.
Here are some takeaways from the Colts getting back to work on Tuesday:
- Similar to Nick Sirianni on Tuesday, Reich gave the answer you would expect when asked about trying to help the Indy defense by employing more of a ball control focus: “If it’s running it for 200 or throwing it for 400, I’m always going to say the same thing, we are trying to score every time we touch the ball and we are going to game plan and call the game in a way to score points,” Reich said on Tuesday “We are really not trying to think so much about, ‘Well, let’s hold the ball and keep it from them.’ We want to run it. There’s no secret about that. That does keep them off the field. That would be great. But at the end of the day, the primary goal is score points.”
- How high are the Colts on Dontrelle Inman right now? Reich said on Tuesday that when the Colts talk finding red-zone targets, they group Dontrelle Inman in there with T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Inman has a touchdown in each of the last three games.
- The Colts know they lucked into Braden Smith as the answer at right tackle in 2018. They didn’t expect it. But some failed trial and error, plus some unfortunate off-the-field circumstances, led to the Colts trying Smith at right tackle in Week Five, after he primarily drilled at right guard all offseason long. He’s been there ever since and has been so solid for the Colts: “Braden is like the best kept secret in the NFL, as far as I’m concerned,” Reich said on Tuesday. “Rightly so, Quenton (Nelson) has got a lot of attention. But Braden has played lights out. When we moved him (to right tackle), we knew we had a great run blocker. You just watch his college tape, you knew he was a great run blocker. When he got here, he knew the pass blocking needed some work. But he worked hard at that. And that was going to be the big question moving to right tackle, how would he handle that? He just continued to get better and better. The guy is playing incredibly good football right now.”
- The Colts have high, and deserved, praise for Patrick Mahomes, who is the likely league MVP this season. Here are three snippets from Frank Reich, Andrew Luck and Anthony Walker talking about Mahomes on Tuesday: Reich: “The arm talent is just crazy. I’ve heard people use the term ‘generational arm talent’ and I think that’s really true. As a former quarterback, I don’t say that about too many people. I don’t throw that term out real easily. I think he’s a legit generational arm talent.” Luck: “He’s fun to watch. He certainly creates some amazing plays, but he also makes the routine and simple plays. His ability to make every throw, and make the simple throw, to do the amazing things well, it’s fun to watch.” Walker: “Every game we come back to the bus and we are like, ‘Did you see that throw (by Mahomes)?’ He’s a great quarterback. He can make every throw.”
- Adam Vinatieri was watching when Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed/had his field goal blocked against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Parkey was with the Colts as an undrafted free agent during the 2014 offseason. “My heart went out for him,” Vinny said of Parkey, who was traded to the Eagles by the Colts back in August of 2014. “He’s a great kid, a great kicker and a friend of mine so I hated to see that happen to him.”
- Yes, Reich saw the clown mask on T.Y. Hilton and the head coach actually said it added to the importance of getting No. 13 involved early on Saturday against the Texans. “Love T.Y., what a leader he is on this team,” Reich said on his weekly radio show, when asked about Hilton wearing the clown mask. “When I saw the (the mask), I just kind of chuckled, knowing that it was probably going to end up being bulletin board material. But there’s some players, and T.Y. being one of those, that you know he’s pulling that thing out for the right reasons. It’s just about him getting ready for the game, his leadership on the team, his belief in himself and in our team, but certainly doing it in a respectful way.” Reich also made it clear that the Colts wanted to get Hilton involved early against the Texans. “Absolutely,” the head coach said. “We always think about getting T.Y. the ball early, when we can. There’s a lot of things that go into how the first plays get scripted. Certainly, one of the thoughts each week is how do we get it to T.Y.? (Last) week in particular, given everything that was going on, the chatter back and forth, to get T.Y. going we thought was pretty important.”
- What did Reich think went into the Colts being shutout in the 2nd half versus the Texans? “Some of that is credit to the Texans defense,” Reich said. “They are a good defense. We just had a few miscues. We moved the ball at times. We made enough first downs here and there to burn some clock. We really weren’t pulling our foot off the gas. We just missed on a couple things, didn’t execute quite as well.” Yes, the Colts did struggle in the second half of their 21-7 Wild Card win. One thing to note on the 4 drives to start the second half that ended with 0 points, the Colts only went three-and-out once, which helped them maintain field position. Houston didn’t have a single drive all game begin past their own 28-yard line.
- In case you missed this Quincy Wilson quote on Quenton Nelson from Monday, I wanted to throw it in the Tuesday notebook. Wilson was on the Dan Dakich show Monday and had this to say about his first impression of Nelson, who stands 6-5 and 330 pounds: “This guy looks like a vending machine with legs.”
- Judging by last week’s reaction on social media, fans will like that their team is on NBC this week, and not ESPN. That means the crew of Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (color) on the call at 4:35 PM this Saturday.
- No team played more zone coverage than the Colts this season. Well, according to Evan Silva, Patrick Mahomes was pretty good against the zone in 2018. Mahomes completed 64.1 percent of his passes, had 7.99 yards per attempt and threw for 14 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against 5 zone-heavy teams this season. The completion percentage and YPA numbers are actually a bit down for Mahomes, but the TD/INT ratio is obviously very impressive. And it sounds like Mahomes has been pretty effective against Cover 2 zone looks this season.
- The bye week looked to serve the Chiefs pretty well in the health department. Safety Eric Berry, running back Spencer Ware and wide receiver Sammy Watkins all returned to practice for the Chiefs on Tuesday. Berry (heel) missed the season finale. Watkins (foot) hasn’t played since Week 11. Ware (hamstring) hasn’t played since Week 14. All three guys are key contributors, when healthy.
TUESDAY’S INJURY REPORT (estimation with a walk-through)
DNP: DL-Denico Autry (shoulder), TE-Eric Ebron (hip), S-Clayton Geathers (knee), WR-Ryan Grant (toe), WR-T.Y. Hilton (ankle), S-Malik Hooker (foot), WR-Dontrelle Inman (shoulder/finger), DL-Tyquan Lewis (knee), S-Mike Mitchell (calf), DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee)
-Bowen’s Analysis: Lewis and Mitchell are two guys to monitor this week, with Lewis missing the Texans game and Mitchell getting hurt during that game. We saw Hooker in a walking boot on his left foot on Tuesday. Hooker injured that foot against the Texans, but only missed 5 snaps the entire game. So there are some defenders to watch on the injury report this week.
LIMITED: LB-Darius Leonard (shoulder/ankle)
-Bowen’s Analysis: A couple of injuries for the team’s best defensive player.
FULL: S-J.J. Wilcox (ankle)
-Bowen’s Analysis: This is good news on Wilcox after he was inactive for Saturday’s game against the Texans. Wilcox could be needed this Saturday in sub packages