What We Saw: Week 16

It was a big week for young WRs

Colts @ Cardinals

Final Score: Colts 22, Cardinals 16

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

 

The Indianapolis Colts are a scary team going into the playoffs. They have found a balance that good offenses find and the defense is operating on another level. The offense, much like tonight, is led by Carson Wentz and he has them one game out of first in the division and the Colts are 9-3 after their first three games. Although Jonathan Taylor has been tearing it up this season, he was relatively quiet tonight outside of just one run. This is where the balance works. Carson struggled in the third coming out of the half and JT was able to pick them up and keep the momentum going. In the fourth, he fell off again and Carson came alive to lead a game-clinching drive.

The Cardinals, going in the opposite direction, were full of dysfunction. Fumbled snaps, leaky protection, lack of separation, and poor time management have them sliding out of the lead in the NFC West, and without DeAndre Hopkins, they looked unsure of what to do in this game. Even though they were only down 12-6 going into the half, it may as well have been 120-6. The Colts would close this out with another team victory, Colts 22, Cardinals 16.

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

 

Quarterback

 

Kyler Murray: 27/43, 245 yards, TD | 4 carries, 74 yards

 

Kyler Murray did everything he could, but the Colts were smothering Arizona’s receivers. Without DeAndre Hopkins, they are getting very little separation and the offensive line can’t keep him protected long enough to allow for more schoolyard play. His biggest plays of the game were with his feet and his yards in the air were from a volume perspective as he hit the chunk plays they’re used to, but couldn’t keep the offense consistently on the field.

 

Though he was mostly mistake-free, yet another fumble on a shotgun snap caused a safety and loss of possession. “Death, taxes, and shotgun fumbles” is probably not what Cardinals fans want to hear as their new slogan, but it seems to be the only consistency Arizona has in 2021.

 

Running Backs

 

Chase Edmonds: 16 carries, 56 yards, TD | 9 targets, 8 receptions, 71 yards

Jonathan Ward: 1 carry, 3 yards

 

Chase Edmonds was their most important offensive player. Murray was having issues finding open targets all game and Edmonds was consistently available with sure hands and looked like the fastest player on the field all night. Nearly half his yards were gained after contact and Murray was running for his life all night so it wasn’t just his speed doing work either. When everyone was wondering about A.J. Green vs. Christian Kirk, the answer was Chase Edmonds all along.

 

 

The most important play for him was the TD. Not for fantasy purposes or simply because it was a TD, because he was given two consecutive opportunities and was able to weave through the line and punch it in where Falcons 20 would normally do so. He proved all night that his elusiveness and speed are his bread and butter, and it was good to see him apply those skills to short-yardage situations because not coming off the field and scoring touchdowns is what we want if we’re rostering him.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Zach Ertz: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 54 yards

Christian Kirk: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 48 yards

A.J. Green: 3 targets, 1 reception, 33 yards

Antoine Wesley: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, TD

Demetrius Harris: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

 

This group struggled mightily against a good Colts secondary. They could not manage to separate, and when they did, Murray was too busy avoiding pressure. Antoine Wesley has been a rare shining point for this group since the Maxx Williams injury and continues to look better each week.

 

 

Zach Ertz, their starting TE, received the most targets, but did not do much with them. Unlike Edmonds, when he got the ball in his hands, the game felt like it slowed down. He was lethargic in his cuts in the fourth and just looked gassed. Christian Kirk and A.J. Green proved in this game that they cannot carry the load against a tough secondary like Indianapolis despite having a couple of big plays.

 

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

 

Quarterback

 

Carson Wentz: 18/28, 225 yards, 2 TD, 2 sacks | 2 carries, 4 yards

 

Carson Wentz played well, nothing spectacular, just… well. He was facing pressure all night, especially from Chandler Jones, and midway through the third, he looked a bit rattled. He was throwing off his back foot and wasn’t bothering to take shots downfield.

Thankfully for him, as I previously mentioned, the running game was able to pick him up with Jonathan Taylor‘s best quarter of the game. In the fourth, Wentz came back out firing and was able to close out the game with three big passes on their penultimate drive that culminated in a beautiful 14 yard TD pass to Dezmon Patmon. Wentz would take yet another big hit at the end of the play, but showed he isn’t afraid to step into one to help the team.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Jonathan Taylor:  27 carries, 108 yards | 2 targets

Nyheim Hines: 3 carries, 11 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

 

Despite the box score, Jonathan Taylor was mostly unimpressive in this game. His biggest impact was felt on the very first play of the game.

 

 

After this, he all but vanished. He would end with a 100+ yard night again, but with 27 carries and a 43-yard run to start the game, it was tough not to. He ended the first half only accruing 14 yards on 10 more carries and had four negative carries. His third quarter was better, accumulating 43 yards on 10 carries, but once again it was a few chunks of yards followed by negative rushes and short gains. In total on the night, he ended with five plays over five yards and eight negative plays. He was often open in the passing game, but the Cardinals were often in position to make an immediate tackle should a pass swing his way. I would blame his lack of passing game involvement on Frank Reich for not scheming him into more wheel and cut/cross routes. Just waiting in the flat for a pair of tacklers is uninspired play calling.

Nyheim Hines had one of the prettiest catches by a running back you may ever see. He didn’t have a huge role, but when they are short-handed at wideout and Wentz is feeling constant pressure, it must be nice to have a guy come up big like this. (Ignore the typo on his last name, the harder part of course.)

 

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Michael Pittman Jr: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 82 yards | 1 carry, 3 yards

T.Y. Hilton: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 51 yards, TD

Mo Allie-Cox: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 42 yards

Ashton Dulin: 2 targets, 1 reception, 23 yards

Dezmon Patmon: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards, TD

Kylen Granson: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards

 

Michael Pittman Jr. did nothing special to separate himself from the rest of the group, but was consistent enough to help in the win. He had some nice YAC gains, but he had trouble against the press and continues to prove he can’t win contested passes with any confidence. He played quickly off the line, but the instant the Cardinals got their hands on him, you knew the play was getting shut down.

 

 

In contrast, T.Y. Hilton looked fresh tonight in short bursts. He was efficient with his targets and had one of the biggest catches of the game that set up Dezmon Patmon for THE biggest play of the game. Hilton showed a quick first step and had multiple targets with over 5 yards of separation at the time of release. A great game for someone that was likely at the end of your bench.

 

 

Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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