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Welcome to the win column, Indy. And way to back up the talk, Mr. Hilton, aka The Ghost. Box score Snap counts Offense, B-: 63 plays, 335 yards, 16 first downs (7 passing, 6 rushing, 3 penalty), 8/17 on third down, 3/4 red zone, 1 turnover, 31 points; BREAK UP THE COLTS!! oh wait, there's a second half... QB: This was a good performance, nice and controlled, calm and composed, more evidence of that playmaking gene that helps him make things happen. He was almost perfect in the first half, I don't think he had any bad throws, he knew when to throw it away, and his pocket presence and escapability were on display multiple times. His ability to run with the ball is critical, and he's not the fastest open field guy, but he strides long and covers ground before you know what's happening. Accurate and on time, always seemed to find the open man. He also threw a pass that resulted in a 34 yard interference call, on his way to a 10/13, 214 yard performance, with one passing score and two rushing scores. Then they kind of took the ball away from him in the second half, and he went 4/11 for 45 yards the rest of the way. Most of his throws were on 2nd and long, 3rd and long, and he converted some, but the offense went into a funk, and I don't fault the QB at all. He was on point almost every snap. A-, I think he aced this one, the minus is me nitpicking for him holding the ball a couple times, but he basically did everything they asked him to Backs / receivers / TEs: Hilton also passed the test -- this is what a star effort looks like, and he kind of made it look easy. They had no answer for him, and rookie Peppers made some big mistakes that led to big gains, but Hilton was basically the answer to every question. Moncrief bounced back with a solid game, not spectacular on paper, but he made big catches and showed the heart that was lacking last week. Doyle actually played well, IMO, aside from the drop and the fumble, and the fumble was a tough play that can happen to anyone. Daniels and Williams did a good job in auxiliary roles, and Bray had a nice catch also. The backs had basically no room to run; when they did, they pulled off a couple nice runs, but it was tough sledding all game. The run blocking was again sloppy, and the Browns sold out to stop the run almost the entire second half. B-, good response by the receivers, the backs had a tough game, and Doyle had probably the two worst plays of the game for the offense (he'd still be running if he caught the screen pass) OL / blocking: The blocking was troubled all game long, in both phases. The Browns blitzed almost all game, and typical of a GW defense, they came from everywhere, and gave the blocking fits. There were some missed protections, which isn't surprising with a new QB and a new OL. I didn't think they got overpowered, just overwhelmed by varied rushes and pressures. The run blocking struggled to get a hat on a hat, they had some ineffective double teams and left defenders unblocked, and couldn't sustain blocks at other times. Turbin missed a protection once. I thought the backs, TEs and receivers did a good job blocking the edge, and even got some good downfield blocks (shout out Bray on Hilton's TD). AC had a good game, hopefully he's put the worst behind him. C-, the line also had 4 killer penalties, 3 unforced Defense, C: 69 plays, 346 yards, 25 first downs (13 passing, 7 rushing, 5 penalty), 5/13 on third down, 4/5 red zone, 3 turnovers, 28 points; leaky pass defense, including containing the QB, still decent against the run Defensive front: Some possessions were really good up front, and they mostly shut down the traditional rushing attack. It was only Duke's outside run that got out for 19. The real damage was from Kizer, who got out for 7, 8, 12 and 13 yards on 4 different carries. Some undisciplined edge play, with Sheard and others coming too far up field at times against a scrambler at QB; dangerous with Wilson on the schedule this week. I thought they mostly tackled well at all levels, including up front. The pressure was inconsistent, Simon's sack came unblocked, but he's motor city and had 3 other pressures. C+, have to contain better, especially this week Pass defense: Better game this week, held their passing attack to just 5.1 yards/attempt, and took it away three times. Still too many 20+ yarders, and there was some loose coverage that helped them get back in the game. Two PIs, including one on third and nine by Butler. Hairston was really good, and Desir had a strong game for being a recent add. And then there's Melvin -- another nice game by him, and the diving catch he made on the second pick was outstanding. Both were bad throws, but credit him for completing the play and taking away two scoring opportunities. If he settles down at the point and does a better job of reading the top of the route and anticipating the ball, he'll cut down on penalties and maybe even make more plays on the ball. The ILBs weren't very good in coverage, either across the middle or ending plays in the flat. Hooker got a gift on the last play, but once again read the QB and put himself in the right place at the right time. C, coverage needs to tighten up, and get rid of the penalties; Kizer stressing us makes me nervous Special teams: Basically a perfect game kicking, Sanchez eliminated their returners, and got good distance, the only somewhat mistake was the touchback. Not much in the return game, Bray made one guy miss. AV hit his kick. The hands team did a good job securing the onside kicks -- Doyle's hands didn't go anywhere. A- Coaching / play calling / game management: Monachino mixed his coverages well again, with mixed results due to penalties and some good catches. The issue was they weren't well prepared to contain on the outside. Pass rush was kind of sporadic. I think the issues all around were with execution, not scheme, though preparation could have been better. C+ Really good gameplan offensively, got the QB into an early rhythm and really authorized him to make things happen; the QB draw was an example of putting the game in the QB's hands and letting him make plays, and even though the play didn't work as designed, Brissett made it happen by bouncing outside. The game got way to conservative in the second half, IMO, and they missed chances to get drives started well or get in third and manageable. I put that more on the head coach than the OC, and I get the conservative approach given the personnel, but there should have been a little more flexibility in the second half to get the offense moving. B The only issue with game management was the ultra conservative offense in the second half, but that helped the Browns get back in the game. Bigger picture, they need to tighten up the run blocking, maybe simplify the scheme, and continue expanding the playbook for Brissett. C Callin 'em out Pass -- Hilton (with flying colors), Farley, Moncrief, Brissett (great first half), Chud Fail -- OL, run game, Anderson Push -- Pagano INC -- Basham Game ball: Rashaan Melvin. Taking away the ball near the end zone is a big deal, his two plays probably changed the complexion and outcome of the game. Next up, at Seattle. This should be interesting. Our OL had three false starts at home, wonder how that's going to work in the toughest road environment in the league... Wilson is a magician, and Kizer -- an inaccurate and raw rookie -- just ran his blueprint with moderate success. Gonna have to be very disciplined on both sides of the ball. GO COLTS!!!
Grades tomorrow hopefully, but what did everyone else think? Coaching / play calling -- Special teams -- Defensive front (run defense and pass rush) -- Pass defense -- Blocking -- Receivers / tight ends / backs -- Quarterback -- Game ball -- (does anyone even deserve one?) I'm dying to see what other people thought in this one. Such an underwhelming performance, but a win nonetheless.