INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich held off on passing judgement against his offensive line Sunday, preferring to review the tape first.
To anyone who was around early in Andrew Luck’s career with the Indianapolis Colts, it likely will look familiar.
Making his franchise debut, Carson Wentz was 25-of-38 for 251 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-16 loss against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium. He also was sacked three times and officially hit a total of 10 times in a day on which the 28-year-old took a brutal beating.
“One of the biggest things is to keep the quarterback safe, and we gave up way too many hits,” center Ryan Kelly said. “That’s not our standard of play. So it’s a good realization of where we are and where we have to go. So, like (owner Jim) Irsay said just a couple minutes ago, it’s a marathon not a sprint. But, obviously, we’ve got some work to do.”
The offensive line was expected to carry the Colts early this season. With Wentz adjusting to a new team and trying to put a disastrous 2020 season behind him, a solid running game and pass protection were supposed to ease his burden.
That might yet be the case, but there was very little supporting evidence Sunday.
Wentz was on the run most of the afternoon as Seattle jumped to a 14-3 lead less than four minutes into the second quarter and kept the pressure on Indianapolis throughout. The quarterback displayed his moxie and athleticism, finding ways to make plays and going 12-of-16 for 114 yards and one touchdown in the first half.
But the beating clearly took its toll. Indianapolis’ first three drives of the second half gained just 23 yards on 11 plays and ended with two punts and a fumbled snap.
Wentz refused to put the blame on the men up front, however.
“First and foremost, I know a handful of plays I want back that I could’ve got us in the right protection, helped us out,” he said. “So you can never take it right at face value. You’ve always got to learn from it, learn from the tape, and that’s on all of us.
“As a team, we just didn’t play complementary football. When the defense had stops, three-and-outs, turnovers, offensively we didn’t capitalize. We gotta do better at that, but that’s a good football team. We’re gonna learn from our mistakes.”
There were plenty of questions coming in after Wentz missed three weeks during training camp recovering from foot surgery and got just a handful of practices in full team drills.
But the quarterback arguably was the most efficient part of the offense.
His wide receivers struggled to create consistent separation, and a vaunted running game never materialized. Jonathan Taylor gained just 56 yards on 17 carries, averaging 3.3 yards per attempt.
The Colts were disappointed but not discouraged. They didn’t blame the lack of practice time together or the game plan for their struggles.
The root of the problem was much simpler.
“I think we had a pretty good idea what they were doing, and everything we planned for we saw,” Kelly said of the Seahawks’ defense. “We just didn’t execute the best we could.”
THEY SAID IT
“He’s disappointed, as he should be. I’m disappointed. (I) wanted to hand it to him, wanted to hand him that win. I’m really shocked that we’re not standing here talking about that. … Life is full of disappointments, and today was extremely disappointing. We did not perform well enough to get a win in the home opener. And so we’ve gotta own that as coaches and players and learn from it and get better. It’s a long way to go. It’s one week, and I know the expectations are high around here, but it’s still only Week 1. And I’m not saying that to diminish how much it hurts or to make an excuse for us not playing well enough to win a game against a good football team, but it is what it is.” – Reich on failing to deliver owner Jim Irsay a desired victory in Week 1.
Reich said the Colts exited the game with no new injuries.
Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers was shaken up early in the first quarter but returned.
Left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf) did not play. They were replaced by Julien Davenport and T.J. Carrie, respectively.
Perhaps the best news from a health standpoint came from Wentz, who said he felt no significant foot pain after his first significant on-field activity.