Eagles Wake-Up Call: Getting To Know the Colts


luck_940 copy

The Eagles’ Week 2 matchup features a trip to Indianapolis to take on the Colts Monday night. Here are five things you need to know about the Birds’ next opponent.

1. It’s all about the quarterback – well, kind of. When most observers think Colts, they think Andrew Luck. Indy’s quarterback turns 25 later this week, and many are expecting big things out of him in his third season.

In 2013, Luck completed 60.2 percent of his passes and averaged 6.7 YPA. He threw 23 touchdowns and was intercepted nine times (570 attempts). Those are not eye-popping numbers, but the Colts have been fantastic in close games. Luck has 11 game-winning drives and eight fourth-quarter comebacks through two seasons.

In Week 1 against the Broncos, Luck was 35-for-53 for 370 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Eagles shut Chad Henne down in the second half of Sunday’s win. Week 2 presents a much bigger challenge.

2. The reason I said “kind of” in the first line above is because aside from Luck, the Colts don’t have a very talented roster. And they have the fourth-oldest squad in the NFL, according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com. On the ground, Trent Richardson has been a colossal disappointment. He rushed six times for 20 yards against Denver. Veteran Ahmad Bradshaw will also see time in the backfield. He had five catches for 70 yards in Week 1.

Reggie Wayne turns 36 in November and is coming off of ACL surgery, but he led the Colts with nine catches for 98 yards in Week 1. T.Y. Hilton was targeted 138 times last year and caught 82 balls for 1,083 yards. The Colts also signed Hakeem Nicks (five catches, 36 yards in Week 1) in the offseason.

3. The offensive line talent is unimpressive, but sacking Luck is not easy. The Colts had the sixth-best adjusted sack rate in the NFL last season, according to Football Outsiders. The Broncos, however, got Luck three times in Week 1.

Indy starts rookies at both guard spots. Hugh Thornton, a third-round pick out of Illinois, will set up at right guard. Jack Mewhort, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, mans the left side. A.Q. Shipley, a former Eagles practice-squadder, will start at center.

The Eagles did a fantastic job of pressuring Henne last week. There are weaknesses on the Colts’ offensive line that Billy Davis will look to expose.

4. Without Robert Mathis on the field, the Colts don’t have a great pass-rush, although there is some talent in the secondary. Vontae Davis helped limit Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas to four catches and 48 yards on 11 targets. Safety LaRon Landry made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and is a big hitter, but he can be exploited in coverage.

The Colts run a 3-4 and are looking to get more out of 2013 first-round pick Bjoern Werner off the edge.

5. The Eagles’ offensive player who should be licking his chops is Zach Ertz. Ertz had an excellent debut with three catches for 77 yards. All three receptions gained 20 yards or more.

Last year, the Colts ranked 26th in defending opposing tight ends. In Week 1, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas went off for seven catches, 104 yards and three touchdowns.

Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson had all kinds of issues keeping up with Thomas Sunday night. Ertz will look to take advantage of that matchup for the Eagles.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Eagles-Jaguars: The Day After – My in-depth look at Sunday’s victory, including how tempo set up Darren Sproles’ touchdown run; game balls; No-22; snap counts; locker room leftovers; and more.

Injury updates on Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre.

McManus shares highlights from Chip Kelly‘s day-after press conference.

“Philadelphia showed me something by not panicking.” What they’re saying about the Eagles.

The defensive leaders set the right tone at halftime, writes T-Mac.

Game review: My player-by-player breakdown of the Eagles’ offense, after having re-watched.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News offers some day-after notes:

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks is an excellent blitzer and Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis is going to use him more in that role this season. That was clear in Sunday’s game. Kendricks rushed the passer 16 times, which was just five fewer times than Trent Cole. He had one of the Eagles’ three sacks of Chad Henne, as well as a hit and a hurry.

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com liked what he saw out of Cody Parkey’s kickoffs:

Even if Cody Parkey’s kickoffs do not result in touchbacks, the Eagles’ new additions of Braman, Maragos, and Carroll will be able to get further down the field before the opposing returner has a chance to get going on his return because of Parkey’s improved hang time. That’s what you saw yesterday when the Jaguars were only able to return kicks to the 13 and 14.

COMING UP

Because the Eagles play on Monday night, there’s no media availability today. But we have plenty to get to.