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Attacking the Indianapolis Colts

NFL: DEC 30 Colts at Titans Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in their home opener this weekend. If they can beat their divisional rival, the Titans have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the AFC South.

Titans defense against Colts offense...

James and I broke down how the Titans defense can try to stop the Colts offense on our podcast here...

The Colts want to run the ball, and they were very good at it last week. Marlon Mack rushed for 153 yards in the second half alone, despite the fact that the Colts were trailing from the first score of the game until they tied it with 38 seconds left in regulation.

The commitment to running the ball in the second half despite their deficit on the scoreboard is telling on multiple fronts.

Clearly they want to focus on the strength of their offense, which is their offensive line and particularly run blocking.

This is also the mark of a good coaching staff, not panicking and moving away from their strength in an effort to play catch-up.

Finally, it tells us that the Colts may not have that much confidence in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett played quite well in this game overall, completing 21 of 27 passes and two touchdowns (with a third nearly completed to Eric Ebron), but he threw for only 190 yards in the game. His average depth of target was just 6.2 yards, good for 26th in the league.

Still, the Colts were able to move the ball against the Chargers. Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals and the Colts piled up a solid 376 yards of total offense with no turnovers on the day. They may have been able to win the game in regulation if Vinatieri makes just one of the two field goals he missed.

The passing game in the first half utilized back-shoulder throws against single coverage looks for Brissett’s receivers. He was able to hit these with good timing with frequency in the first half, and the Titans will need to be ready to face this.

This can also set up a double move stop-n-go route that the Titans DBs should prepare for after Frank Reich put this back-shoulder throw on tape in Week 1.

Titans offense against Colts defense...

James and I broke down how the Titans offense can attack the Colts offense on our podcast here...

The Colts like to run a cover-2 zone and allow their corners to play with their eyes on the quarterback. The Colts secondary has a talented young safety in Malik Hooker, who was able to read Philip Rivers’ eyes in the red zone and snag a beautiful one-handed interception.

Rivers probably never should have thrown this ball, but it’s still a nice play by the Colts safety.

It will help the Titans that Jabaal Sheard is out for this game with Kemoko Turray a game-time decision, as these are the Colts two best pass rushers. The Titans may be able to operate a smoother passing attack against this defensive front, but they may not want to.

Last time the Colts played the Titans with Marcus Mariota under center, the Colts destroyed the Titans passing game with disguised and delayed blitzes that caused Mariota to become panicked early in the game and eventually saw him leave early.

Conversely, the Colts defense was gashed by Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson last week.

The Titans will likely look to ride Derrick Henry in this game, taking advantage of the over-aggressive linebackers to create cutback lanes in the zone run scheme. That aggressiveness from the linebackers should also allow the Titans to work the play-action passing game over the middle and deep down the field.

As in their last matchup, I expect the Colts to send lots of extra pressure to disrupt Mariota’s timing on straight dropbacks and play-action plays alike.

It should be a good match-up as just like last week, both teams will likely look to run the ball and control the clock in an effort to establish dominance in this game.