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  1. This is pretty late in the week, partly because I didn't want to rewatch and do grades. Decided to go ahead, mostly for my own sake. For whoever reads this, hope you enjoy (as much as you can; it's pretty ugly). Any comments are appreciated. Week 9 grades Defense, D: 74 plays, 503 yards, 33 first downs (13 passing, 17 rushing, 3 from penalty), 9/11 on third down, 5/5 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 42 points; got beat up on the ground, all game long Defensive front: Gave a lot of praise to this front last game, and they didn't live up to it this week. Very little penetration in the run game; some plays they got back there and made some stops (Werner had some nice plays), but those were completely outnumbered by the plays where the line couldn't shed blocks, over-pursued, got zero penetration, missed tackles, etc. Run fits were generally poor, as we got beat by the Pats unbalanced and/or heavy personnel sets. That led to plenty of cutbacks for Gray. When we countered, they countered, and their run blocking was excellent. Couldn't handle backside action by their TEs and FBs, who often led the way up the middle off of motion or pull blocks. And then everyone tackled poorly, up front, middle of the field, second level, everything. We didn't do well up front, but with good tackling, we'd have slowed them down better. And then, forget about defending an end around, especially after all of our focus is on stopping middle runs. Same concept on some off tackle runs. We didn't stand a chance, really. The pass rush was decent, affecting quite a few plays and even forcing two picks. Only 30 dropbacks, and we got 9 pressures, including 6 hits. Not bad, but they didn't really need to pass, aside from some quick hitters. This was all about being entirely incapable of stopping the run, from the opening bell. F+, poor run fits, poor tackling... you have to man up and not allow a team to destroy you for 250 yards and 4 TDs Pass defense: Pass defense was decent. Tackling wasn't, like Gronk's TD. They hit us across the middle for some gains also, which is the softest spot of our defense, but 7 catches for 71 yards across the short middle isn't terrible. They got us on some quick hitters to the outside, some stack formations (not because we suck against stack formations, but because it's difficult to defend, which is the reason offenses use them in the first place), etc. Brady was 1/5 for 26 yards and a pick on throws traveling further than 20 yards down the field (passer rating of 9). We did a pretty good job against Gronk, using a couple of defenders to slow him down most of the game. Pretty good job against screen plays, also. And you'd think that, with the run game being such a problem, that play action would be a problem, but we were really good against play action, with the exception of the TD to Wright (passer rating of 33). Some poor tackling led to some first downs and extended drives, and we had trouble stopping some third down passes also. Blown coverage coming out of halftime, trying to stop Edelman on a cross, but left Vereen wide open with no one near him in the flat, for 39 yards. C, Gronk didn't really factor in to the passing game until the TD Offense, C-: 56 plays, 322 yards, 17 first downs (14 passing, 1 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/13 on third down, 1/3 on fourth down, 2/3 in the red zone, 1 turnover, 20 points; no run game, too many dropped passes QB: I think Luck did just fine, aside from a couple of overthrows. He started the game of with a scramble, which reminded the defense that he can run. His pick was a bad decision, but he was under pressure, and the throw was tipped. Forgivable. I saw him step up and hit receivers, lead guys up the field, work well against zone coverage (which the Pats really wanted to use), and avoid mistakes (aside from the pick). The Pats held and hit receivers all over the field, before the pass, while the ball was in the air, everywhere, and it was never called, including a PI in the end zone on Hilton. We needed a little more playmaking on third and fourth down, but we also needed guys to finish plays with catches, and for the refs to throw some flags (especially given the bogus call against Toler). I don't put that on Luck. The TD to Nicks was excellent; need more of that. The long play to Reggie was excellent QBing, with Luck beating zone coverage by moving the safety to the right, then throwing up the backside seam. He might have checked down too quickly a couple of times. We should have been able to pick on Browner and Ryan all game long. B-, tried to carry the offense, got undermined in several ways Backs / receivers / tight ends, C-: Running game: No run game. Not on the backs; the blocking failed to provide any lanes to run through, for either back, and they combined for 4 yards on 13 carries. They salvaged some yards on a couple of plays, but this was the worst rushing performance of the year. D Passing game: Only credited with 2 drops, but I think there were 2-3 more that should have been completed. And the two drops wiped out chances at big first downs. Fleener was a monster in the passing game, and Reggie had some nice grabs, including the long one. Nicks did a good job on the TD, and got some separation down the field on another play, but Luck got pressured right away and couldn't go to him. Moncrief needs more chances; once Luck starts connecting with him downfield, our offense will be even harder to stop. Hilton was mostly taken away by double teams (and penalties, like getting knocked down in the middle of the field by a blatant Browner shoulder check), but that opened up other guys. Only Fleener was consistent after the catch. What really hurt was the inability to make admittedly tough catches on third and fourth down, and that's been a strength of the Pats pass defense lately, and really helped them against us and the Broncos. C+, left too many plays on the field, failed to exploit some favorable matchups OL / blocking: Harrison is really showing some warts lately, and not just on snaps. Flat out missed some blocks in this one, giving up at least one hit. We were ineffective on double teams in the run game, which is an incredible failure, IMO. The outside routinely collapsed in the run game, and we struggled to get anyone off the ball. Luck only got hit four times in 43 dropbacks, but there was some quick pressure allowed here and there. Pass protection was adequate, run blocking was dreadful. C-, regression in Week 11 is troubling Special teams: They had Amendola returning punts instead of Edelman, which was surprising. Probably wouldn't have mattered, as our punting and coverage was and always is impeccable. Kickoffs were good, nothing there. We didn't do anything returning ourselves (let's see if Cribbs helps there). Oh, almost a disaster on the one kickoff return; Boom and Whalen won't be a factor there anymore, I assume. AV still perfect, with plenty of leg on a 53 yarder. A- Coaching / playcalling / game management, C-: Our screen plays suck, and I have to put that on scheme. The run plays never worked, and some of the plays seemed doomed from the start. Lots of poor blocking, but we ran into some unfavorable fronts. Not good scheming against a team that we should have been able to run on. And it's not because of the deficit; the score didn't get out of hand until late. Passing game was called well, IMO. Hard to ask for more play action when the run game doesn't show up, but Luck was 4/4 for 21 yards and a TD. If it works, use it, especially after some of those big gains to Fleener. Need to find a way to play Moncrief more. C+, not so much for gameday performance, but it seems like we didn't have a good game plan overall Defense was about personnel, IMO. They knew we'd commit to stopping Gronk in the pass game, and choose to go heavy up front. They wanted us to commit to the run so they could hit us with play action, and that didn't quite work, but they still kicked our butts running the ball. Manusky countered some of their looks, and we still failed to tackle with any urgency. To me, this was NOT about scheme, but about sloppy run defense, poor tackling, and eventually a defense that was worn down due to not being able to get off the field in the second half. INC A lot of people had a problem with the FG. I didn't. If your defense can get a stop, then you're back in the mix. If they can't get a stop, then it doesn't matter either way. Maybe you extend that drive by going for it, and that's close to no man's land where you should think about going for it, but I don't think that decision was too critical. I'd have been fine with going for it, as well, but we had no run game, so that's a tough decision. AV is as automatic as he's ever been, so Pagano took the easy three. In general, team didn't seem well prepared to match the intensity of the Pats, and that bothers me, especially in a home game, coming off a bye, against the hottest team in the league. C-, again, not about gameday performance, but about laying an egg off the bye Bonus grade: Refs, F. The refs didn't cost us this game, but I felt like they called us for a couple of DB contact plays that were borderline, then let the Pats DBs get away with some outright muggings. Game ball: Yeah, right... Next up, nothing like a game against the Jags to cure some ills. It helped us after back to back losses to open; hopefully it helps us again. We have some injuries and will be shorthanded, so it would be nice if we can ice this one and get guys some rest. We need this to be a breezy part of the schedule, with three home games in a row, and these next two against sub-par competition. GO COLTS!!! (even though people are jumping off the bandwagon and burying the season in Week 11)
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