Colts’ D: We ‘got our (butt) kicked’

Indianapolis Colts

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks (56) sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) during the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS – Darius Leonard didn’t mince words.

The All-Pro linebacker’s quick-time assessment of the Indianapolis Colts’ opening 28-16 loss to Seattle Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium?

“We got our a** kicked,’’ Leonard said flatly.

Russell Wilson passed for 254 yards, four touchdowns and a 152.2 rating. The Seahawks finished with 381 total yards, averaged 7.2 yards per play – it averaged a ridiculous 9.9 yards in a 21-10 first half – and averaged 5.2 yards on 27 rushing attempts.

A defense that ranked 10th in the NFL a year ago and was expected to move further up the ladder this season was especially ineffective in the first half. Leonard finished with five solo tackles and one forced fumble.

Wilson generated touchdowns on three of his first four possessions, completing each with his right arm: a 23-yard TD to Tyler Lockett; a 9-yarder to tight end Gerald Everett, who beat Leonard and a 69-yarder to Lockett, who split safeties Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon on a deep post.

“It was just beaters,’’ Leonard said of the coverage issues. “I mean, if you look at it, we’re in Cover-2 . . . the middle of the field is under attack.

“They had a great game plan. Kudos to them, but we have to watch the tape and understand that when you play Cover-2, you have to understand that you’re going to have the Cover-2 beaters in. We have to find a way to stop them.’’

To its credit, the defense made adjustments at halftime after yielding the three TD passes and 257 total yards – and got its act together.

Seattle’s third quarter consisted of four possessions and 17 plays that netted 51 yards. There were three punts and a lost fumble when Leonard poked the football out of Chris Carson’s hands.

But the overall performance was lacking. There was no positive vibe in the locker room.

“The vibe . . . when you get your a** kicked, what do you think?’’ Leonard said. “You’re pissed off. They come to the house, we’re at home, their defense talking trash.

“We didn’t do enough on our side of the ball defensively. You’re upset.’’

More on the defense

There were positive moments for the defense.

Leonard came up with the Colts’ only takeaway while DeForest Buckner and Kenny Moore II had one sack each and Khari Willis and Al-Quadin Muhammad shared a third.

Willis and linebacker Bobby Okereke shared the team lead with seven tackles, but it must be pointed out Okereke missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage that resulted in Carson’s 33-yard run on third-and-1.

Rookie Kwity Paye finished with three tackles, one for a loss, and recovered the fumble caused by Leonard.

On the offense

Carson Wentz’s Colts’ debut featured 251 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns to Zach Pascal.

As is normally the case in a Frank Reich offense, he spread the football around. Eight different players caught at least one pass, and Wentz make liberal use of his running backs. He was 12-of-15 for 108 yards when targeting Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.

Taylor had a career-high six catches for 60 yards while Hines finished with six catches and 48 yards.

Pascal was the most effective wideout: four catches, 43 yards and two TDs.

Rookie Mike Strachan had two catches for 26 yards, and each converted a third-down situation.

It’s a marathon

Owner Jim Irsay stressed the importance of winning the opener when he addressed the team at training camp.

After the Colts lost their eighth straight opener, he altered his message.

“Irsay was obviously very upbeat about the season,’’ center Ryan Kelly said. “It’s a long season like he said. It’s a marathon. We’ll get better.

“We have the right coaches, the right players, the right integrity in this offense, this entire team.’’

Coach Frank Reich noted Irsay was disappointed.

“As he should be,’’ he said. “I’m disappointed. I wanted to hand it to him. I thought we were going to. I’m really shocked that we’re not standing here talking about that. Life is full of disappointments and it was extremely disappointing.

“We’ve got to own that as coaches and players and learn from it and get better. It’s a long way to go. It’s one week. I know the expectations are high around here, but it’s only week 1. I’m not saying that to diminish how much it hurts or to make an excuse for us not playing well enough to win a game against a good football team.’’

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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