The Indianapolis Colts have completed the first quarter of the 2022 season with a disappointing 2-2-1 record. Indy Intercept hands out grades and MVP awards to the offense, defense, special teams, and front office.
The first quarter of the 2022 season included the first half of the Colts’ AFC South divisional games, leaving the Colts winless in the division at 0 – 2 – 1, yet somehow still in second place in the division thanks to the equally bad play of the Titans, Jaguars, and Texans. Here, we break down the performance of the Colts offense, defense, special teams, and front office, assign grades, and identify each unit’s most valuable player (MVP) through the first five games of the season.
Colts Offense First Quarter Grade: D
The offense has at times moved the ball well, at other times has looked utterly anemic, and has repeatedly found ways to kill drives, turn the ball over, and otherwise fail to put points on the scoreboard. The ability to move the ball through the air and multiple, successful fourth-quarter comebacks are the only things keeping this unit from a failing grade in the first quarter.
Specific grades for quarterback, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, and offensive line:UnitGradeCommentsQBCMatt Ryan’s performance has been hindered by abysmal play from the offensive line, leaving him with little time in the pocket and on-pace for unacceptably high season totals for sacks and strip-sack fumbles. Nevertheless, Ryan must find a way to protect the ball. Ryan gets credit for leading the offense to three, fourth-quarter comebacks.WRCThe wide receiver corps are a young, talented group that flashes their potential – but have at times completely disappeared. The unit has shown ability to move the chains, but has not been effective in finding the end zone. Michael Pittman, Jr. has the unit’s lone touchdown reception through five games.TEBThe tight ends get the highest unit grade for the offense. The unit has generated four of the offense’s five receiving touchdowns and thus far has proved to dependable passing targets for Ryan.RBDOffensive game-plans have been heavily dependent on running backs, both on the ground and through the air. Unfortunately, this unit has not delivered sufficiently or consistently enough. Star Jonathan Taylor came on strong as the 2021 season progressed, though a repeat performance in 2022 will require competent play from the offensive line.LineFNothing good can be said about the first-quarter performance of the offensive line. The line can’t run block, pass block, or pick up blitzes, and is on pace to give up unsustainably high season totals for sacks and strip-sack fumbles. When not getting skill players killed, the unit has consistently killed potential scoring drives with penalties.
Colts Offense 2022 First Quarter Grades by Unit
Colts Offense First Quarter MVP: Alec Pierce
Despite missing one game due to a concussion, rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce has emerged as perhaps Ryan’s favorite and most reliable receiver. Pierce has delivered as a big target, winning contested throws on the outside and over the middle. If Pierce continues his first-quarter performance, his name may appear in discussions for offensive rookie of the year consideration.
Alec Pierce has been HIM pic.twitter.com/cXpHq5v0r6 — 💙🤍Please draft a QB💙🤍 (@SadCoItsFan) October 8, 2022
Colts Defense First Quarter Grade: B
The defense has single-handedly kept the Colts in games while the offense has failed to score. The unit appears to be adjusting well, if slowly, to Gus Bradley’s scheme. Through five games, the defense has given up zero fourth quarter points, the first team in nearly a century to accomplish the feat. The defense would have a higher grade, but for its inability to generate turnovers.
Specific grades for linebackers,defensive backs, and the line:UnitGradeCommentsLBBDespite playing without All-Pro Shaquile Leonard, the linebackers have done a good job of keeping the play in front of them.DBBThe DBs seem to play best in man coverage, and have done a good job keeping teams out of the end zone.LineAThe defensive line has been stout against the run and in goal-line situations, while also starting to generate QB pressure.
Colts Defense 2022 First Quarter Grades by Unit
Colts Defense First Quarter MVP: Stephon Gilmore
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore has been tested by opposing offenses, and has largely delivered. Both team wins have come as a result of “Gillylock” defending passes in the end zone to preserve late Colts leads.
Honorable mentions: defensive tackle Grover Stewart and Defensive End Kwity Paye.
STEPHON GILMORE CALLED GAME! 🎥: @PrimeVideo pic.twitter.com/zi23tag3NN — Famously Garnet Sports (@FamouslyGarnet) October 7, 2022
Colts Special Teams First Quarter Grade: B
Despite being losing pro-bowl punter Rigoberto Sanchez to injury during the off-season, largely responsible for snatching a tie from a would-be overtime win Week One at Houston, and seeing starting place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship subsequently get cut, the Special Teams unit has been quietly solid, especially in the Week Five, all-field goal win at Denver.
Colts Special Teams First Quarter MVP: Chase McLaughlin
Signed to the practice squad after Blankenship was cut and subsequently being signed to the active roster, place kicker Chase McLaughlin has been remarkably reliable, especially when asked to kick field goals beyond 50 yards. McLaughlin was named AFC special teams player of the week after kicking field goals of 48, 51, and 52 yards at Denver.
#Colts NEWS: kicker Chase McLaughlin has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. First time in his career that McLaughlin has earned Player of the Week honors. He went 4-4 vs. #Broncos. @WISH_TV pic.twitter.com/vhvG6PlcAN — Anthony Calhoun 📺 (@ACwishtv) October 12, 2022
Colts Front Office First Quarter Grade: C
Specific grades for head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, and general manager:UnitGradeCommentsHCFFrank Reich will be lucky to survive the season. His M.O. is getting mediocre performance out of talented rosters, and being routinely out-coached and out-game-planned.OCDOffensive game plans are boring and predictable, with too much reliance on running backs and too much dependence on the offensive line.DCBThe jury is still out on Gus Bradley’s new defensive scheme, but the defense has unquestionably kept the Colts in games when the offense has been anemic.STABubba Ventrone’s unit has consistently delivered, outside of Week One.GMCChris Ballard’s trust in his young WRs may be proven correct, but he clearly missed in his assessment of the offensive line.
Colts Offense 2022 First Quarter Grades by Unit
Colts Front Office First Quarter MVP: Special Teams Coordinator Bubba Ventrone
Despite losing both his starting punter and starting place kicker, Bubba Ventrone continues to field a unit that reliably produces on the field. The Colts have a young roster that lacks depth, which usually translates into inconsistent special teams performance in kick returns and coverage – but not so with this unit.
Bold prediction (not really). Frank Reich is going to go 3-for-3 in getting coordinators hired before it's all said and done. Bubba Ventrone is going to be an NFL head coach one day. — Jim Ayello (@jimayello) January 27, 2022
Colts Overall First Quarter Grade: C
The Colts could have emerged from the first quarter with a clear lead in the AFC South division. Instead, the team has emerged as what they historically have under Frank Reich: mediocre. The uninspired, ugly win over Denver in Week Five may have kept the team in the race for the division, but in so doing it may have only delayed the inevitable.
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