The Indianapolis Colts tried to get running back Nyheim Hines the ball 3 times on the first 5 plays of the matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. Clearly, he was a big part of Indianapolis’ script to open the game.
But after that, Hines received just 2 other targets and 1 carry the rest of the afternoon. Overall, he played only 15 snaps in the embarrassing 24-0 defeat.
In Week 1, Hines lined up for 26 snaps.
Colts head coach Frank Reich tried to explain why Hines didn’t receive more snaps during the second week of the season.
“We only had 50 total plays which is on the low side, or maybe in the high 40s that were kind of relevant plays,” Reich told the media on September 19. “You’re trying to get him involved. As you saw, we opened up with him, tried to throw a screen to him early. We had another play in that first drive that he got targeted that didn’t come up quite the way we wanted it to come up.
“So really in the first 15 plays, I think we tried to scheme him up three, four, five times. From there – obviously, we’re going to focus on JT [Jonathan Taylor]. He’s always going to be the focus. When you get down to 50 or in the high 40s [for] plays, it’s just going to limit everybody as far as snap counts.”
Limited Snap Counts for All Colts Offensive Players in Week 2
Reich made good points about Indianapolis’ limited offensive snaps against Jacksonville. Hines played 9 more snaps in Week 1 than Week 2, but actually, he played a larger percentage of Indianapolis’ total offensive snaps versus the Jaguars than the Texans (30% versus 28%).
Furthermore, Hines lined up for a greater percentage of snaps in Jacksonville despite the fact the first-team offense didn’t really play late in the fourth quarter during Week 2.
It has been 2 polar opposite games for the Colts offense in terms of snap counts to begin the season. Indianapolis had 92 offensive snaps in the overtime tie versus Houston while only 50 plays against Jacksonville.
But the issue with Reich’s response to Hines’ limited snap count in Week 2 is the fact Indianapolis was missing both wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce.
Without Pittman, the Colts didn’t have a receiver on the field in Jacksonville that had recorded more than 3 catches in a game during his career.
Pittman and Pierce combined for 137 snaps in Week 1. With them unavailable, that’s a lot of open playing time for all of Indianapolis’ other pass catchers.
Hines should have been a bigger part of the offense, as he was on the first possession, which, by the way, was Indianapolis’ longest drive against Jacksonville until the fourth quarter.
But instead, the Colts gave more snaps to their unproven receivers. Even Dezmon Patmon, who was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad for Week 2, played more snaps (24) than Hines.
Colts Failed Getting Any Running Back Involved Against Jaguars
Reich’s comment about the team’s primary goal of getting Taylor involved ahead of Hines also makes sense. But, while Taylor was on the field, he didn’t touch the ball much versus Jacksonville.
Taylor had 5 touches in the first half. Reich chalked up the All-Pro running back’s lack of involvement to the offense’s failure to stay out of third-and-long situations.
“We were not productive on first and second down,” Reich told the media on September 19. “If you’re three-and-out or four-and-out, it’s hard to get runs called because you’re getting third down plays and then when you add onto that, we were third-and-long all day, so it’s hard to get enough runs to Jonathan [Taylor].
“So, that was the primary reason right there. Then, you fall behind and you’re playing a little bit of catch-up, but we’ll still try to mix it up as we did. We had a couple of long runs in the second half, but still not very many attempts.”
Taylor finished the game with 54 rushing yards on 9 carries, averaging 6.0 yards per rush. But in the first half, he had just 4 yards on 5 rushing attempts.
The Colts will need a lot more than 9 first downs and 218 yards to be competitive versus the Chiefs. With the current depth concerns at wideout for Indianapolis, Hines has to be on the field more, especially if Pittman misses another game.
“We’re always looking for ways to get Nyheim [Hines] the ball,” Reich said. “I think we’ve tried to do that a little bit.
“He didn’t get a ton of plays yesterday … but when he was in there, we were trying to get him the ball.”