INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Frank Reich blamed himself for the Indianapolis Colts’ opening-day miscues.
He accepted responsibility again Monday for setting up the first of Philip Rivers’ two interceptions. He said he was outcoached on some key plays. Reich insisted he had even put quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a tough spot on his first and only snap of the game and lamented the fact he didn’t call more runs.
Sure, Reich made some mistakes in Sunday's 27-20 loss — and so did everyone else.
“He (Reich) is always going to do his best to shield us from the blame when he can, but, shoot, ultimately the ball’s in my hand,” new quarterback Philip Rivers said after the game. “I thought the guy was out of there. He wheeled back and made a play off it. I felt it right as I let it go."
The Colts signed Rivers, an eight-time Pro Bowler, to help them get back to the playoffs. But after one week, the resume looks awfully familiar.
The Colts have lost seven lost seven straight season openers, eight straight road openers, six straight in Jacksonville and six of their past seven overall. They've even lost starting running back Marlon Mack for the rest of the season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon, too.
And after throwing 20 interceptions last season, the 38-year-old Rivers threw two more in his Indy debut.
No, it wasn’t what anyone in the Colts' locker room anticipated. But they are better positioned to turn things around with a deeper, more talented roster than the Colts have had in recent seasons. All they have to do is clean things up.
“It’s just one game," Reich said. “You want to start out with a win against a division opponent on the road, but we’ll learn from it and we’ll get better and we’ll be ready to go next week."
The offence . Despite the turnovers, the Colts had no trouble moving the ball. They finished with 445 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per play, and never punted.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Red-zone offence . In addition to the interceptions, Rivers acknowledged he should have thrown to tight end Jack Doyle for a touchdown on Indy's second series instead of settling for a short third-down conversion. The Colts gave away another scoring chance later on the drive when Nyheim Hines was stopped short on fourth-and-goal, and again when Rodrigo Blankenship hit the left upright on a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Jonathan Taylor. With Mack out, the second-round pick out of Wisconsin becomes the new starter. He topped the 2,000-yard mark each of the past two seasons and caught six passes for 67 yards while running nine times for 22 yards in his NFL debut.
T.Y. Hilton. Yes, he caught four passes for 53 yards Sunday but was targeted nine times and failed to haul in either of Rivers' last two throws.
“I lost the game,” Hilton said. “The drops, never should have had them.”
Mack. The starting running back has steadily increased his rushing totals each of his first three seasons. Now, his contract season is over barely after it begun.
Fantasy football fans might want to note that the Colts had 17 receptions by running backs. Hines had eight for 45 yards and one TD, and Mack had three before the injury in addition to Taylor's haul. Expect the trend to continue.
This week, it's clean up time in Indy.
Indy scored touchdowns on on only two of its five red-zone trips, was minus-2 in the turnover battle and had five penalties for 80 yards after leading the league in both categories in 2019. The defence struggled to put consistent pressure on Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew II, gave up three TD passes while forcing just one incompletion.
Reich expects all of it to change before Minnesota (0-1) comes to town.
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Michael Marot, The Associated Press