After the longest offseason in decades, pro football is officially back. And that means it’s time for America’s favorite weekly football gimmick, my weekly “Things I Noticed” column.
There was no shortage of topics to comment on this week, especially since we didn’t see any preseason football due to the pandemic. But the moment the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, I knew that garish 27-20 loss — and Philip Rivers’ mistakes in it — was going to be my lead observation.
Whoo boy, what a disappointment. Yes, the Jaguars played inspired at home as Doug Marrone’s staff had great gameplans on both sides of the ball. But I predicted Indianapolis to win the AFC South before the season, and for them to lose to the openly tanking Jaguars was brutal.
I don’t say that to disrespect the Jaguars, a young team with some promising players who could be playoff ready as early as 2022 if they nail the next draft. I say that because for all the reasons to believe in Rivers in 2020, including his reunification with Frank Reich and the Colts’ strong offensive line, the two interceptions he threw Sunday were eerily similar to some of the ones he tossed last year when he tallied 20 picks, the third-most in football and his most since 2016.
I laid it all out in detail in the video above, which was finely stitched together by my guy Ron Schiltz and includes commentary from Rivers, Reich and Marrone about what happened on those plays. After hearing the explanation, it was hard not to ponder a world where the worst-case scenario plays out and Rivers is washed, thus dooming Indianapolis to hover around .500 again. This would be an incredibly disappointing waste of an opportunity to solidify his Hall of Fame candidacy, considering the strong roster that surrounds him. The Colts signed Rivers to a one-year, $25 million deal this offseason, hoping he’d be an upgrade to Jacoby Brissett.
It’s only Week 1, and teams often take their biggest jump between the season opener and Week 2. It’s also worth noting that Rivers threw for 363 yards, and the Colts need to get more aggressive on defense as they can’t just play zone and let Gardner Minshew complete 19 of 20 passes. Still, no team in football with playoff aspirations outside of Cleveland needs a bigger bounce back in Week 2 than Indianapolis.
Indianapolis next hosts a Minnesota team that went 10-6 last year but is coming off a similarly frustrating home loss to the Green Bay Packers, in which Aaron Rodgers somehow threw it back to 2010 on the Vikings.
And hey, speaking of Cleveland …