Colts fall to Bills in preseason: The good, the bad and the ugly

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The Indianapolis Colts took the field for their first action of the preseason Saturday as Frank Reich’s squad visited the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium.

While this game was filled with sloppy play, that is expected with young players and new faces getting their first live reps in a new environment.

There are always things to improve on before Week 1, and the Colts have things to build off of. That’s what the preseason is for.

With the opener now behind us, it’s time to take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the first preseason game:

The Good

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The first quarter featured the Colts starters without their two best players on both sides of the ball. Without linebShaquille Leonard, this defense has always looked different and Saturday was no different. Even without their All-Pro linebacker, Gus Bradley’s defense managed to force four turnovers in the first half, with five total on the day.

Impressive interceptions by Rodney McLeod and Isaiah Rodgers were the headlines in a secondary that played well throughout the afternoon.

Another impressive factor early in the game was defensive end, Dayo Odeyingbo. He was all over the field providing a consistent pass rush and chasing down rushers out of the backfield. He could be an X-factor for this defense going forward.

The defense also managed to really step up when it counts on third down and in the red zone. Loading the box and getting in the face of opposing quarterbacks has to be priority No. 1 for this unit as they face some strong offenses in 2022.

Quarterback Sam Ehlinger also looked comfortable in the second half, much better than he looked in last year’s preseason. He even managed to toss a good-looking touchdown pass to his big rookie tight end, Jelani Woods. He added another touchdown in the fourth quarter as well.

While there may not be a spot on the active roster for Sam this year, it’s good to know he is progressing well as a young player.

The Bad

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While the defense managed to look strong, the pass rush overall was somewhat lackluster. Going against the Bills second-string offensive line, this should have been a field day for Indy’s front four and they struggled at times. This is not a new issue for the Colts, but something that has to be addressed and worked on during the remainder of training camp.

Another key issue was the lack of separation by Reggie Wayne’s receiving room. The routes were pretty simply so it’s not a major issue, but it is something to monitor. Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce need to be able to find the holes in opposing secondaries and create the space for Matt Ryan to thread the needle.

The Ugly

 

The tackle position has been one to watch this off-season, with Matt Pryor being named the starter on the left side opposite Braden Smith. However, both players had a below-average day against a Bills pass rush that did not feature Von Miller or Ed Oliver.

Matt Ryan faced a lot of pressure which led to shorter passes and had to quickly process his throws. This poor performance was also evident in the run game. It goes without saying that the tackle position is incredibly difficult, but it’s vital for a team that has a run-first identity and the league’s leading rusher last season.

Another ugly spot was the bad turnovers. Both teams turned the ball over multiple times and while it’s just the preseason, you can’t cough up the ball so easily. There has to be security with the football no matter where you are on the depth chart.

The Colts also committed nine penalties, but that is to be expected somewhat during the preseason opener.

Game 1 is in the books means we are one step closer to football. The Colts and Frank Reich are happy to have this one behind them as they regroup and host the Detroit Lions next week. We will see if some of these issues persist as we get closer to the season opener.

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Story originally appeared on Colts Wire