The Colts Offense got off to a rocky start in their first 5 games. Philip Rivers couldn’t quite seem to get his footing as he adjusted to playing on a new team for the first time in 16 years. Interceptions and inconsistency held Rivers and the offense back. In the Colts’ last two games, though, their passing attack has started to come together.
Against Detroit in Week 8, the Colts had success through the air by attacking the Lions’ heavy usage of man coverage with some great play concepts. Nyheim Hines’ first touchdown was a great man-beating design. At the start of the play, the Colts aligned tight end Jack Doyle on the perimeter. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai aligned over him, which was an indicator of man coverage. Doyle then motioned inside and Tavai followed.
This left running back Nyheim Hines on the perimeter with safety Tracy Walker over him. Hines then moved towards the formation on what looked to be orbit motion, something you might see on an end-around run in the other direction. Walker followed him hard inside.
But Hines stopped and changed directions right after the snap. At that point, Walker lost sight of him as he was peaking inside to try and dodge the traffic in the middle of the field. Hines had already broken back to the outside by the time Walker realized it.
With Walker pinned inside, Rivers just had to get the ball out of his hands. Hines did the rest.
Great design, great execution.
The Colts love to use formations and alignments like they did on the above play, with tight ends and running backs on the perimeter to provide indicators of man coverage for the quarterback. And they had plenty of success with these looks against Detroit.
You know what else helps beat man coverage? A quarterback making stick throws into tight windows. Watch this throw by Rivers to Nyheim Hines, who used a double move to again beat safety Tracy Walker.
That deserves a second look from the end zone angle.
That’s an absolutely perfect ball.
It was also impressive to see how easily Hines got on top of Walker. Many offenses around the NFL use running backs on the outside merely to provide an indicator of man coverage so the quarterback can target an advantageous mismatch elsewhere. For the Colts, it’s nice to have a running back who can make plays catching the ball like Hines does. It especially comes in handy against man-heavy teams like the Lions. Hines finished the day with 3 receptions for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns.
We haven’t quite seen the Colts Offense fire on all cylinders yet. No, their last two opponents (Bengals and Lions) aren’t exactly the cream of the NFL crop on defense. But in the last two weeks, Indy’s offense has shown indications that they are starting to click. Hopefully, T.Y. Hilton’s groin injury doesn’t keep him out for too long or set the offense back. Barring injuries, the Colts look like the most complete team in the AFC South. We’ll find out a little more about where they stand in the AFC when they take on the Ravens in Week 9.
Like what you read? Follow us on Twitter @FB_FilmRoom (Football Film Room) for more insight and analysis.