Colts' Quick Passes & YAC Worrisome for Packers Defense

The Indianapolis Colts' quick passing game under Phillip Rivers and their pass-catchers ability to pick up YAC is worrisome for this Green Bay Packers' defense. 

Sunday's matchup with the Indianapolis Colts will be one of the more difficult games that the Green Bay Packers play this season as they are going to be tested in all three phases. The Colts offense, in particular, will present a significant challenge for Mike Pettine and this defense. 
 
Many fans have been frustrated by the Pettine defense this year, which is predicated on not giving up the big play. Instead, he wants the opposing offense to string together ten plus play drives in order to score, with the thought being that the Green Bay defense will come up with a stop, force a turnover, or the drive will simply stall since it's not easy to put that many successful plays together. 
 
This style of play, however, plays right into the hands of the Colts' offense that is led by Phillip Rivers. Pro Football Focus defines a "deep pass" as a throw that travels at least 20 yards in the air, and this season, Rivers deep ball percentage of 9.6 percent, ranks 27th out of 36 eligible quarterbacks. 
 
So rather than seeing this Colts' offense trying to stretch the field, Rivers is going to get the ball out quick, take the easy completions, and let his pass-catchers pick up yards after the catch. 
 
That means two major things; one, pressuring Rivers won't be easy. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Rivers holds the ball on average for only 2.49 seconds, the fourth-lowest average in the league. When a quarterback is getting rid of the ball that fast, it oftentimes doesn't matter how good the pass rush is; they likely aren't getting home.
 
Secondly, if Rivers is completing these relatively easy throws, tackling is going to be key. And, unfortunately, that's not something this defense has been very good at this season. The Packer's 72 missed tackles are the eighth-most in the NFL, and their 7.9 missed tackles per game are the seventh most. 
 
Now, tackling is always key, but despite the Green Bay Packers' struggles with it this year, they still have a record of 7-2. However, this Colts team is one of the best in the game at picking up yards after the catch (YAC), ranking fifth in total YAC with 1,213 yards, and the 5.6 yards after the catch that they average is the third most. Meaning, missed tackles in this game could be the difference between a win and a loss. 
 
Two names, in particular, to keep your eyes on in the passing game are the Indianapolis running backs, Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines--both are favorite targets of Rivers. Taylor has 22 receptions this season for 203 yards, which is the 15th most among all running backs. Meanwhile, Hines -- who is going to be a problem for this defense -- is fifth in receptions with 33 and fifth in receiving yards with 265. 
 
For some context, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams -- two very good pass-catching backs in their own right -- have combined for 54 receptions this season for 439 yards, compared to 55 receptions for 468 yards for the Colts' duo. 
 
Given that Rivers and the Indianapolis offense will exploit the usual soft zone coverage we see from Pettine, and the fact that the pass rush, even while blitzing, will struggle to create pressure, my hope is that we see the cornerbacks closer to the line of scrimmage and traffic in the box to help make the throws in the flat and underneath more challenging.
 
This rings especially true if both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are back on the field--both were full participants in practice on Thursday. Trust that your corners and safeties won't give up the big play and force Rivers to beat you vertically. Chances are we will see a turnover-worthy pass or two if that's the case. 
 
Ultimately, this is going to be a difficult matchup on both sides of the ball, but with the Green Bay offense going up against one of the NFL's top defenses, this Packer defense is going to have to come up with some stops. This game cannot look like the Minnesota game we saw just a few weeks ago. 
 
To his credit, in recent weeks we've seen Mike Pettine playing more aggressively, and that is what he will have to do again on Sunday because playing soft in coverage and allowing easy incompletions is exactly what this Colts' offense wants their opponents to do. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

3 points

Comments (19)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

November 20, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Flipping to the other side of the ball, the Colts defense is going to pose a significant challenge as well. They rank high or very high in most of the major categories, with the only exception being red zone TD percentage. I don't expect the Colts will allow Davante to beat them, so it's imperative that Rodgers be protected and spread the ball around, and for our other receivers/TEs make the most of their opportunities. It's going to be a tough game, regardless--looking forward to it.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
porupack's picture

November 20, 2020 at 01:07 pm

"matchup with the Indianapolis Colts will be one of the more difficult games". Who fears the horsecleats? Nah.......

Packer 45 Colts 24; packers come out firing and impose their will; Oline handles each of their assignments, and AJones surpasses 100 rush. ARodgers gets ball out quicker than Rivers and up-tempo, demoralizes Colts D, then hits some deep balls to Adams, MVS. StBrown announces his big debut with 100 yard game. Tonyan scores. Sternberger Scores. Rivers gets picked 2x and looses a fumble on a sack, gets harassed by PSmith. Kirksey et al, limit run game, and Rivers gets one dimensional. Packers play near error free ball, as well as refs having lot of make up calls. Packers special teams gets 2 big punt returns and maintains field advantage. Rodgers 4 TDs and 400 yard day. Calls it a day with 4 min left.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
Packers1985's picture

November 20, 2020 at 01:33 pm

I hope so. If we win like this then that should be the best game we played this season.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
SpikeHyzer's picture

November 21, 2020 at 11:31 am

If that ends up being the Pack's best game, they have no chance of playing their best in the Super Bowl and of winning it.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

November 20, 2020 at 04:18 pm

I agree: Packers need to play downhill and press at the LOS.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
egbertsouse's picture

November 20, 2020 at 05:10 pm

And then Santa Claus comes riding into the stadium on a unicorn, wielding Excalibur and they all ride off to Shangri-la.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
Difer's picture

November 21, 2020 at 10:30 am

LMAO!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bearmeat's picture

November 20, 2020 at 04:45 pm

The Colts can't run the ball. GB can't pressure with 4, nor stop the run. IF GB can rally and tackle, they won't score.

I think if Lazard plays we can score on anyone.

GB: 21
IND: 20

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
jannes bjornson's picture

November 20, 2020 at 05:02 pm

Taylor and Mack between the tackles, Hines with 4.3 speed to the outside and All-Pros at LT G and Center. Pack will be lucky to survive 1st and 2nd downs. Rodgers will have to be razor sharp and put TDs on the board to pull off a victory Sunday.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
dobber's picture

November 21, 2020 at 10:04 am

Taylor has been pretty "meh" most of the season and HInes has been the one to do a lot of damage recently but in more of a pass-catching role. Mack has been on IR with an Achilles since week 1.

I'm more concerned with Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton at TE. I suspect they'll game plan the TE pretty heavily...and Rivers always has utilized the TE/

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
SpikeHyzer's picture

November 20, 2020 at 07:25 pm

It's a great O Line, but Rivers has thrown a lot of picks.
It seems as if their style plays into our defense and they will get frustrated if long drives come up empty or result in a TO. The Packer D has made some strides and is now fully healthy. I believe our CBs can negate their WRs.

I just don't know if the Packers' offense can overcome that defense.

28-27 Packers.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
DenePhillips's picture

November 20, 2020 at 07:26 pm

The INDY game could get really ugly for the Packers. They have a good run game and Rivers can rip the defense apart.

I would go FULL OFFENSE!!

I will predict shoot out in Indy both teams 30+ points best team wins.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
DenePhillips's picture

November 20, 2020 at 07:27 pm

Go Pack Go!!

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
tonym's picture

November 21, 2020 at 08:28 am

Pass rush pressure is a waste unless it's third and long. Best defense of Sidearm Rivers is hands up, no throwing lanes. About all Lowry and Lancaster can do anyway! And watch how Nelson drags defender down using their own momentum. That's how the throwing lanes open up.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Archie's picture

November 21, 2020 at 10:00 am

Real simple - win and we are for real. Lose by more than a TD and we aren't.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Thegravedigger's picture

November 21, 2020 at 10:33 am

If the 5 main dbs all play and play up to their abilities, then we can hold em off. Two things need to happen on d, they need to tackle hines on 3rd down dumpoffs, and k clark needs to get pressure up the gut on these short passes. I am confident this team will play well this sunday because after a loss this team always shows up. And yes i know they didnt lose last week. But they shouldve. And they know it. Rodgers will be on point. Hes a bad maan after a baad game. Interested to see how linsley blocks buckner, as well as raven greene and savage on hines and the tes. Say what u want about savage, hes been playing better lately.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
jlc1's picture

November 21, 2020 at 11:25 am

The Pack is outmatched by too much of the Indy roster to stay in this one. Only way they win is with a +2 or more TO margin.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
SpikeHyzer's picture

November 21, 2020 at 11:39 am

Indy is one of the league leaders in TO margin, but the Pack also rank pretty high for a very different reason:

INDY forces a lot of TOs, but Rivers also creates a huge amount (a bit more than twice as many as Rodgers).

The Pack don't create a lot of TOs, but still have a positive margin because Rodgers only has 3 picks and I think the Davante fumble is the only one (of, again, very few) they've lost.

I'm not positive the Pack is outmatched. If the D Line can win the pressure battle against one of the best O Lines in the league--without necessarily creating TOs--and simply create a lot of 3rd down failures, we might hang in a low scoring game.

That's a huge battle though. I think our D can stop this team, but I'm hard pressed to think we can score more than 17-20 points ourselves.

INDY fears us too. In the weekly interview feature on Packerswire and the Colts own Wire page, the INDY writer picked the Pack by 2 and the Packerswire guy (Kruse) picked Indy by 2.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
4thand10's picture

November 21, 2020 at 03:46 pm

This secondary the Packers have is the most talented and deep than I have seen in awhile. A sure way to screw up a quick passing game is to play Man coverage. I think they have the talent to do it. If I was Pettine that’s the game I would call. One the offensive side, go ahead and put that 6th lineman in as an “ eligible “ catcher. That slows down good defenses sometimes.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.