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Week 1 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 24, Los Angeles Chargers 30


What you need to know

Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett ran a more conservative and run heavy version of the offense Andrew Luck ran last year. The Colts passing game was limited especially on downfield throws. Brissett played well enough for the Colts to win the game and they might have if not for missed kicks by Vinatieri. Marlon Mack was effective in the first half but became featured in the second half. Mack consistently kept the offense on schedule with good smart running and contributed a 63 yard touchdown run. TY Hilton was clearly Brissett's favorite target. Hilton showed his prowess to separate and make plays underneath when the deep ball wasn't available. The rest of the Colts offense including the tight ends were quiet. Deon Cain made a couple of nice plays and could see more targets going forward with Funchess suffering an injury.

Los Angeles Chargers

For one game at least, the Chargers didn't miss a beat without Melvin Gordon in there. Austin Ekeler stepped in for the holdout starting halfback, and lit up the stat sheet. Ekeler dominated both on the ground and through the air, and became the first running back in team history to total 150+ yards from scrimmage and 3+ touchdowns in the team's opening week game.

Philip Rivers put up big stats, but his play wasn't particularly crisp. He threw a really bad interception that nearly cost his team the game, and almost turned it over on several other occasions. He appeared to hold the ball too long several times, and a lot of his passes were either too far ahead of or too far behind the intended targets. But the numbers were there, and should continue to be as long as he's got this passing game talent around him.

Keenan Allen had a very solid afternoon, but he played even better than the statistics suggest. He was targeted early and often, and one got the sense that he could have done even more if he had some more targets. He's not physically imposing, but he really knows how to use his body to win at the point of the catch, and that was on display on more than one occasion in this game.

Indianapolis Colts

QB Jacoby Brissett, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 27 - 190 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0
Jacoby Brissett played well enough for the Colts to win but wasn't great. Brissett struggled with pressure as he is somewhat stationary in the pocket and his accuracy was inconsistent at times. Brissett played well when the Colts were able to stay ahead on the down and distance especially with the run game. Brissett moved the Colts down the field for a touchdown on a methodical drive. The drive consisted of running plays and short passes. Brissett capped the drive with a nice throw on a slant to TY Hilton for a 4 yard touchdown. Brissett moved the Colts into field goal range with a nice drive before halftime featuring completions to Deon Cain and Devin Funchess but Adam Vinatieri missed the field goal. Following a muffed punt the Colts were unable to secure any points. Eric Ebron dropped what should have been an 11 yard touchdown and then Vinatieri missed another field goal. Trailing by 8 with 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter the Colts got the ball back. Brissett connected with TY Hilton twice for big plays on the drive. The first was a 19 yard over the middle. The second was a shallow cross that Hilton took to the end zone for a 19 yard touchdown. A two point conversion from Mack sent the game to overtime but the Colts did not get a possession in overtime because the Chargers scored a touchdown on their drive.

RB Marlon Mack, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 174 - 1
Marlon Mack had a huge second half against the Chargers. Mack picked up 25 yard running a sweep on the first play of the second half. Mack got excellent blocking on the play and showed good patience before exploding into the open field. A few plays later Mack made a nice cutback at the line of scrimmage to find a crease for 10 yards. Mack followed excellent blocking into the open field and slipped two ankle tackles on his way to outracing the defense for a 63 yard touchdown. Mack got an excellent block from Quenten Nelson on the play. Mack converted a two point attempt with a run right up the gut.

RB Nyheim Hines, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0, Rec: 4 - 4 - 0 (4 targets)
Nyheim Hines made an 8 yard catch on a screen pass. Hines played a complimentary role to Marlon Mack.

WR T.Y. Hilton, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 87 - 2 (9 targets)
TY Hilton did most of his damage underneath but still looked like the same dangerous player with lethal speed. Hilton made his first two catches underneath for 8 yards. Hilton 3rd catch was a slant between two defenders for a 4 yard touchdown. Hilton picked up 12 yards running a comeback route from the slot. Hilton picked up 9 yards running a curl route. Hilton gained 16 yards on a screen pass on 3rd and long but still came a yard short of the line to gain. Hilton made a 19 yard catch running an in breaking route over the middle. TY Hilton made a catch on a shallow crossing route and broke a tackle to evade two defenders before escaping up the sideline for a 19 yard touchdown. Hilton should have been stopped for a minimal gain on the play.

WR Devin Funchess, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (5 targets)
Devin Funchess made an 8 yard catch running a comeback route. Funchess made a back shoulder catch along the sideline for 16 yards. Funchess made a physical play for 8 yards on 4th and 3. Funchess was targeted in the end zone on the Colts final possession and landed hard on his shoulder. Funchess left the game and reportedly suffered a broken collarbone.

WR Deon Cain, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (2 targets)
Deon Cain made an impressive 10 yard contested catch running a comeback route against Casey Heyward. Cain made a 25 yard catch on a back shoulder throw from Brissett. Cain ended the game second in receiving yards on the team trailing only TY Hilton. With the injury to Funchess Cain could see more targets going forward.

TE Jack Doyle, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (2 targets)
Jack Doyle picked up 20 yards coming free running a shallow crossing route.

TE Eric Ebron, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
Eric Ebron dropped what should have been an 11 yard touchdown. Ebron initially caught the pass but bobbled it as he went to the ground in the back of the end zone.


Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 34 - 333 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0
Rivers put up big stats, although it should be noted that much of the production came from his receivers doing damage after the catch. It's perhaps slightly unfair because he did put them in position to gain that yardage, but more often than not Rivers' passes tended to be a bit off the mark. He overthrew Justin Jackson early on a fade attempt in the end zone for what could have been an easy touchdown. He later found Austin Ekeler for a short 3-yard touchdown that didn't involve any sort of difficulty (Rivers has now thrown a touchdown in 29 of his last 30 games). He later connected with Keenan Allen for a score, but the ball was essentially thrown up for grabs. A fantastic individual effort by Allen is the only reason the ball ended up being a touchdown. And on Rivers' third touchdown pass, he dumped off a screen pass to Ekeler who just absolutely ran through defenders en route to the end zone. He later overthrew a wide open Travis Benjamin on a deep sideline route that could have gone for a big gain. And in between the scores, Rivers showed a propensity to hold the ball a bit too long. And he was slightly careless at times, twice having it knocked out of his hands by defenders. He was nearly intercepted on a badly advertised screen pass to Justin Jackson off a bootleg, and then actually DID throw an interception in the end zone when he failed to account for a defender dragging across in front of Keenan Allen for a 1-handed pick. It wasn't all doom and gloom in his performance; he made a couple of perfect passes right on the money to Allen in traffic. And it's tough to be too critical, because Rivers does sometimes just get the ball to his playmakers and let them make plays. It has sort of been his M.O. for much of his career. But it would just feel better for his owners if the passes he was making in this game were consistently crisp and in stride rather than too far behind or in front of the intended targets.

RB Austin Ekeler, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 58 - 1, Rec: 6 - 96 - 2 (7 targets)
The stat line makes it obvious, but Ekeler may have played even better than the statistics suggest. He was very busy from the opening series all the way through to the game-winning touchdown run, and dominated in just about every way possible. The Chargers designed numerous plays specifically for him, and he took advantage of the room the offensive line was opening up for him up-front. His first score of the game came on a 3-TE set when he leaked out of the backfield to get wide open in the end zone. It was a perfect play design, and he was mostly just the beneficiary of some lapsed coverage. That wasn't the case on his second score, when he took a very well-blocked screen reception up the right side with blockers in front. Once the defense met him, they tried to strip the ball instead of just going for the tackle. Ekeler proved too strong to be dragged down by strip attempts and weak arm tackles, and kept charging ahead. One last block sprung him ahead for the 55-yard score. On the overtime possession, he showed a lot of patience running west to east before finding the seam and bursting through it. He later capped that drive with a twisting run into the end zone to end the game, breaking a tackle at the 2-yard line before lunging for the goal line and his third score of the game. With Melvin Gordon's holdout continuing and showing no end in sight, Ekeler is proving to be extremely valuable at least in the short term.

RB Justin Jackson, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 57 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)
Jackson was out-touched 18-7 by starter Austin Ekeler, and the usage patterns suggest that that could be a pretty reasonable expectation of how the split will be handled between the two players. Jackson looked very good in the run game, setting a career high with a 23-yard gain on his first touch of the season. He later beat that career-best run with a 24-yarder late in the second half. In between those two runs, he showed very good shake with the ball in his hands and ran very smooth and fluid. On the first long run, the offensive line opened a gaping hole that he shot through. On the second long one, the hole wasn't as obvious. But he found it and he hit it hard. Jackson had a long gain on a designed screen pass on third and 8 that was called back for an illegal formation penalty on the Chargers. It turned a first and goal inside the 10-yard line into a third and long situation at the 28-yard line. Philip Rivers made sure it didn't matter by throwing a touchdown to Keenan Allen on the ensuing play, but Jackson's afternoon could have had a bit more yardage (and he may have remained in the game on the red zone possession for a scoring chance if the penalty hadn't been called).

RB Derek Watt, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
Watt is certainly not a featured part of the offense, but he does get the occasional short yardage attempt on third and fourth downs or sometimes on the goal line. In this game, he had two such short yardage attempts, and converted them both.

WR Keenan Allen, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 123 - 1 (10 targets)
Allen was involved every which way in the passing game for the Chargers, and was a force from beginning to end. In the early portion of the game, it was Allen and Austin Ekeler getting nearly all of the passing game looks, with almost no involvement from any other player. And Allen was turning those opportunities into production. He made a terrific leaping grab for a touchdown with two defenders in the area (and one basically draped all over him). He did a great job using his body control to box out the defender, who actually appeared to have better position on the ball. But Allen boxed him out with his prolific catch radius to shield him from getting near the ball. After a mostly quiet third quarter, Allen got involved again in the early fourth quarter. A quick slant over the middle resulted in a 21-yard gain, and had a huge grab on third and 3 with the Chargers up by one score to get first down yardage. With the Chargers attempting the knockout punch, however, Rivers targeted Allen along the back line of the end zone for a potential touchdown. But the Indianapolis defender made a fantastic break on the football, picking it off one-handed and preventing the score. After the Colts tied and sent the game to overtime, Allen made an incredible catch that won't necessarily show up on the highlight reels. It was a low pass by Rivers, but Allen went lower to get his arms under the ball and pull it up to his chest. It was such a difficult catch, that every Colts defender in the area immediately signaled to the sideline to challenge the call since it seemed so unlikely that he had made a clean grab.

WR Mike Williams, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (3 targets)
The early passing targets were dominated by Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. In fact, Williams' first catch didn't come until there was 3:24 left in the first half. He and Rivers just didn't seem to be on the same page on multiple occasions. Williams made a big catch over the middle in the second half for 17 yards, but tried making a few cuts after the catch to pick up extra yardage. It initially appeared that he had injured his hamstring, but it was later reported as a knee injury. For what it's worth, Williams remained on the sideline in the second half after the injury.

WR Travis Benjamin, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets)
Even with Mike Williams leaving the game early due to injury, Benjamin didn't see a whole lot of looks. He rarely gets targets that are consistent enough to provide fantasy value, and this game was no different. He was unable to shake loose for anything deep downfield (his specialty), although he did have a step on his defender late on a deep out and was way overthrown by Philip Rivers.

WR Dontrelle Inman, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Inman was recently re-signed to provide some depth in the receiving game. Despite Mike Williams leaving the game in the second half, Inman still wasn't really a featured part of the offense. He caught just one first half pass, showing nice hands on a ball that was thrown a bit behind him. But that was the extent of his involvement.

TE Hunter Henry, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 60 - 0 (5 targets)
Henry took awhile to get going, but made some noise late to somewhat make up for it. After his name wasn't even mentioned the entire first half, he finally made his first catch with 9:13 left to play in the third quarter. He soon after shook loose in the secondary for a big gain over the middle for 22 yards. Late in the fourth quarter, the Chargers had very little time to try and drive downfield for a potential game-winning field goal. Henry caught a short pass in the flat and was immediately hit on the knee (his surgically-repaired knee), got up off the ground, and limped to the sideline. While he was out, backup Virgil Green caught a short sideline pass. But Henry returned shortly thereafter, adding a key long catch in overtime to put the ball on the Indianapolis side of the field and help extend the drive. With wide receiver Mike Williams injuring his knee in the game, Henry's involvement could grow even more in the coming weeks.

TE Virgil Green, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
Green had one short sideline catch, coming just after Hunter Henry briefly left the game after banging his knee. In other words, Green is a non-factor in this offensive gameplan.