The Indianapolis Colts are hoping to get results similar to what the Detroit Lions got by using their bye week to undertake the ongoing self-scouting process to correct weaknesses.
The payoff for the Lions from their bye after Week 4 was strengthening the run defense. The improvement was obvious in road wins over the Jaguars and Falcons that improved their won-loss record to 3-3 going into Sunday's game against the Colts at Ford Field.
Head coach Frank Reich did not specify what the Colts focused on in the bye in his conference call with the Detroit media Wednesday, but it no doubt involved the offense to some degree.
The Colts have no serious issues on a defense that ranks second in the league overall in yards allowed per game (288), third against the run (88.3) and second against the pass (199.7).
The Colts have allowed just 115 points, third fewest in the league. The Colts' offense ranks 19th in yards per game (363.2).
View photos of the starters for the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are in position to make a playoff run. They made it as a wild card in Reich's first season as head coach with a 10-6 record in 2018 and dropped to 7-9 last year.
The Colts are second in the AFC South with a 4-2 record, one game behind the first-place Tennessee Titans (5-1).
The Colts, like all 32 teams in the NFL, didn't have to wait until the bye to realize they had a problem.
"With the technology today, the self-scouting we do, we really do it every week," Reich said. "We were able to dig down a little bit schematically – what do we need to do better? What do we need to do to complement it ... change it up?"
The Colts have not gotten the results they might have expected when they signed veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. He has seven TD passes against six interceptions.
Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, a second-round pick out of Wisconsin, ranks 17th in the league with 367 yards rushing.
Wide receiver being a position that needs upgrading is evident in the fact that veteran T.Y. Hilton leads the team's receivers with just 20 catches for 247 yards. He does not have a touchdown. Running back Nyheim Hines leads the team in catches with 23.
Rivers became available when the Chargers decided they were not going to bring him back this year after 16 seasons with the Chargers.
Reich had a connection with Rivers from the three seasons he spent with the Chargers as an assistant coach. He coached quarterbacks in 2013 and was offensive coordinator in 2014-15.
"The offense here is similar to what we ran in San Diego," Reich said.
The Lions will face a familiar foe in cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who spent seven seasons with the Vikings after being drafted in the first round in 2013. Rhodes leads the Colts with two interceptions. He has returned one for a touchdown.
Up front, the Colts are getting major production from defensive ends Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner.
Buckner has 2.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits. Houston has a team-high 3.5 sacks and six hits.
The Lions' offense faces a stiff challenge because of the overall strength and consistency of the Colts' defense.
"You can see all the yards are hard-earned on tape," said Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "As you watch, you don't see guys running free. You don't see busts in the coverage.
"You see players in the gaps they're supposed to be in. You see the coverage where the guys are supposed to be."