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  1. So, I'm not gonna rewatch this face, so I'll just do grades now while it's fresh in mind. http://www.espn.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=400951589 Offense: QB: Several flaws in his approach to this game, most notably, his inability to understand when to get rid of the ball, when to tuck it and run, and when to throw it away. The protection was dreadful, but Brissett ran into pressure repeatedly throughout the game. There was one play where 3 of the Jags 4 rushers fell down at the LOS, and Brissett scrambled directly into the only rusher who was still alive. He was accurate enough when he threw it, besides the deep balls that were late and off target; he threaded a nice one to Rogers on a 3rd and long, but not much else to speak of. He took a beating, and stood in courageously to finish the game (there were questions whether Tolzien would come in as early as the third quarter), but his lack of familiarity with the offense and his lack of polish showed up big time. D, get rid of the ball, please OL / blocking: None to speak of. Everyone got beat across the line all game. There were spots with sufficient protection; I don't put all ten sacks on the OL, a lot of the pressure was due to the QB not being decisive with the ball. But they didn't do anything worthy of mention. The rushing "attack" got undermined right off the bat, falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, and then the pass rush started coming in waves. Losing Kelly hurt, but he wasn't helping all the much before. No push in the short yardage run situations, but they did make some holes at times for Gore and Mack. Still too much penetration in the run game. F, end of the day, you gave up 10 sacks and 400 pressures Backs / receivers / tight ends: Felt like the opener, in that you can't blame the skill guys for disappearing when the QB is playing so poorly, but some oft his goes on the receivers in this one. There were a couple drops, and Aiken had a stupid penalty for which he was benched for a while. Doyle got back on track, somewhat; I think he's had a tough couple months in several aspects, and expect him to get back to his old reliable self moving forward. Hilton gave us the bad "Ghost" this week -- the invisible one. Moncrief didn't even get a legitimate target until the second half. Rogers had a big catch on third down, which was good since he's only just coming back. The backs churned out whatever they could, but often were asked to run straight up the middle where there was nowhere to go. Mack had a drop, and couldn't handle another pass that was too high. D+, your QB needs your help, you have to get open Defense: Defensive front: What had been at times a strength of this team was not today, which is disappointing given the fact that Fournette didn't play. The run fits were sloppy on the inside, the edges weren't contained, and the tackling was sloppy from start to finish. Yeldon made everyone forget about Fournette for three hours, and this was Yeldon's first action of the season. The front did their share of giving up big plays. Henry Anderson had a nice strip sack, and Grover Stewart had a nice run stop, and that's about all the positive I can say. There was very little pressure, they rushed Bortles a couple times, but for the most part he was unbothered. This was maybe the worst tackling performance of the season. D-, losing Simon is concerning because Basham doesn't really know what he's doing Pass defense: What pass defense? Another 6 pass plays of over 20 yards, including three over 40. Losing Melvin was a problem -- ironic I'm saying that, but he's been our best corner, obviously -- but these are the same problems. We're not good enough to play man coverage across the board, especially at LB, and we're not sound enough to play zone, which is just inexplicable. We can't cover anyone at any level, no matter the opposing skill guys or the QB. We repeatedly got beat on 3rd and long, sometimes with no one near the receiver (recurring theme all season), and this is with an almost unyielding refusal to blitz in the entire first half. Yes, we gave up 282 passing yards in the first half, to Blake Bortles, with mostly 7 man coverages. And then we lost Hooker (on another busted play up the sideline, due to missed tackles). F, the secondary at times looks like no one knows what they're supposed to be doing Special teams: INC Coaching: Just giving a collective F here (sorry McMahon). The gameplans on both sides of the ball got exploited, we couldn't stop the Jags on defense, and we couldn't move the ball on offense. We tried the same things over and over, but got burned in every way imaginable. The offense didn't do anything to stop the pressure or keep the QB clean. The defense got torched in the same ways they've been getting torched all season, plus we couldn't stop the run. And Chuck absolutely BLEW IT not challenging the Marquis Lee fumble out of bounds. That should have been a touchback to the Colts, easily. Next up: @ Bengals. Two weeks ago, there was optimism, as Luck was getting closer, Kelly was back, the team looked like it was getting some things going. Now, we're firmly in last place in one of the worst divisions in football, our backup QB who has played his heart out has slowed down dramatically, and we're losing more and more of our best players. Go Colts, I guess...
  2. Good result, thankfully they found a way to fight for the win. Wish it didn't have to be so difficult. Stats Snap counts Defense, C-: 70 plays, 402 yards, 23 first downs (19 passing, 3 rushing, 1 penalty), 4/14 on third down, 2/2 on fourth down, 2/3 red zone, 0 turnovers, 23 points; the passing defense is a real problem Defensive front: They got back to a tough, mostly physical performance against the run. There were some leaks up the middle, a couple of plays that probably would have gone for BIG yards if not for shoestring tackles -- no surprise that Breida was the guy that gave us trouble; besides Hyde being less than 100%, Breida is the speed guy that we typically struggle with. Also some bad edge play a few times. For the most part the run defense was strong, including some third down stops. The pass rush was less impressive, partly because Hoyer got on the move and used strong play action, but mostly because they had open receivers all over the place. The Niners also used some tempo changes to catch the defense off guard. Sheard had a nice game, used his hands well and got to the QB quite a bit. They lined him up on the LT more often this game, good because their RT has been good in pass pro so far. Sheard might have been our best defensive player this week. B-, only critique is the lack of pressure, but when Hoyer held the ball the rush got to him Pass defense: The good, Melvin had a decent game again, including a nice near pick coming under a throw to Garcon, who was eating us up. Melvin didn't have sticky coverage most of the game, but he's diagnosing and breaking on the ball a lot lately, and when a DB does that, he's going to cause turnovers (which we've already seen from him). He's also tackling better each week. The bad, well, lots of it. The ILBs can't cover, period, over the middle, up the seam, or in the flats. The safeties appeared to have some breakdowns, not getting deep enough on the long play to Goodwin, and not breaking strong on throws in front of them. And there's a gross lack of recognition in any zone coverage. By my count/judgment, Hoyer threw 26 uncontested passes with 4 incompletions, 3 of which were off target. We had 4 PDs, two of which were at the line, not due to good coverage. The pass defense was a sieve, and got shredded for 353 yards and 2 TDs by a QB who had a passer rating below 70, and an offense that went 22 possessions without scoring a TD. Gave up three more 20+ yard pass plays, and could not stop the bleeding in the 4th quarter. The PI in OT was bogus. D, this is scheme related and personnel related Offense, C+: 73 plays, 447 yards, 25 first downs (14 passing, 9 rushing, 2 penalties), 8/16 on third down, 1/4 red zone, 1 turnover, 26 points; dry spells -- caused by poor execution and frustrating penalties at every position -- led to another up and down performance QB: Pagano said Brissett has "it," and he's right about that. Hitting those third downs to Moncrief, and the big play to Hilton in OT, show what he can do. I wondered about his ability to throw the deep out to the left, but he nailed it to Moncrief. He also had a perfectly placed ball to Hilton for a big gain that was dropped. He found underneath receivers well, showed patience in the pocket and drove the ball to the second level with authority, even on the run... He also has some inconsistencies that pop up at the worst times -- elongated delivery, which I think led to the pick in OT, messy footwork and lack of balance, to name a few. Bounced back to make plays, including the aforementioned third down to Moncrief, which came after the pick. He also stayed tough when pressured, and there was plenty of pressure; for a stretch, his response was to tuck it and run, and that's fine when you can get yards. Not a perfect performance, almost cost us the game (again), but that playmaking ability and "it" factor are obvious multiple times every game. C+, 139 passing yards when pressured, 135 passing yards on throws 20+ yards Backs / receivers / TEs: Gore was tough and showed good vision, getting to the second level several times, but he got stopped in the backfield more than usual this week. Turbin did what he does in short yardage, finding the hole and finishing, but got stopped in the backfield on the goal line. This was the Marlon Mack show, though, and he made big play after big play, almost hitting 100 yards in just 10 total touches on 17 snaps. The ability to take a busted play for 16 yards on third and 15 is special. He'll get more reps and more opportunities moving forward. Receivers were hit and miss; Hilton led the way with a big game, but had two drops. Moncrief started the game with a nice catch, disappeared for about three hours, then came back with two big catches in OT. Need more slants to Aiken from the slot. The TEs were nondescript. Gore did a good job gaining yards on a screen pass, then got chopped down on another due to bad blocking. B-, mostly Hilton and Mack with big gains, but the others made plays also OL / blocking: Pass protection was overwhelmed on multiple occasions, unable to form a pocket or keep the QB upright. Bad matchups with Haeg on Dumervil and Vujnovic on Buckner, and those guys made big plays against us. The run blocking made some decent holes at times, some just big enough for Gore/Turbin to find and squeeze through. They were inconsistent getting the edge, but managed to seal it a few times. Too much penetration overall in both phases. The blocking in space was bad as well, especially the screen play where Vuj couldn't so much as redirect the DB so Gore could get upfield, and that play would have gone for big yardage. The TEs missed some blocks as well. Clark had a nice block as the 6th OL, continuing to do well in that limited role. Shout out to TY for a nice downfield block! C-, I'm thinking it might be time to go back to Haeg at guard, Clark at RT Special teams: Focusing on the good, AV was on fire, two 50 yarders, including another game winner. This man is 44 years old, ya'll. Sanchez was great also, really good punter, and when he pulls off on kickoffs, it's well placed directionally to keep the returner controlled. The return game isn't doing anything but nearly turning the ball over. I get the concept, but it's a little overly risky, IMO, and Bray had a good 20 yards open in front of him. Don't beat yourself... B Coaching / play calling / game management: Well called offensive game. I personally would like to see Chud string together some play action, go to it after decent run plays, etc. This is a nitpick, especially since Pagano says they script the first 15 plays (I never understood how that works, but whatever), but the first play is a 10 yard pass, then a 9 yard run, then they run it again for a one yard loss. Throw a play action right there, and you probably have the defense on its heels. The last series of play calls was overly predictable, but they went super safe after blowing the previous possession in the red zone. The QB keeper and the wildcat have potential; some might see them as overly cute, but you can see defenses reacting to them, and there are things we can do off of them. Just have to field the snap and protect the ball. Also have to clean up the penalties -- which are spreading from the OL to the skill guys. B- I'm not sure what the mix of man/zone is supposed to be, and I'm not sure why we can't play outside technique without completely vacating the space inside the numbers and giving receivers free reign. I know we're not good at ILB, but the pass defense is being stressed everywhere. Everything is vanilla against the run, and it's mostly working. D Pagano was again caught between strategies at the end of the 4th quarter. Decline the ten second runoff because the Niners are running out of downs, that means you want a chance to get into FG range at the end of regulation. Then 4th down comes up with over a minute left, and you don't call timeout? Then why decline the runoff? Then you burn a timeout after the Niners get lined up, and still give up the TD? Also got burned on kicker freeze timeout, but that's impossible to predict. D Missed Callin 'em Out last week, and Grades. Just a super rough week. Game ball: Marlon Mack, he's electric, made huge plays that woke the offense up in the second half, and was the key to setting up the game winning kick. I'm excited to see how we continue working him in. Next up: Titans on the road, as the divisional schedule gets started. If Mariota plays, this will be a big test. I'm not convinced the Colts are good enough to do anything this season, especially without Luck, but we could be in first place a week from now. GO COLTS!!!
  3. 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!!!
  4. Winnable game, just a couple of plays changed the outcome. Still kind of a sloppy game all around. Box score Snap counts Offense, C: 70 plays, 266 yards, 18 first downs (11 passing, 6 rushing, 1 penalty), 8/18 on third down, 1/2 red zone, 1 turnover (ouch), 13 points; better overall performance, but left a lot of plays out there and couldn't sustain potential scoring drives down the stretch QB: Considering the circumstances, this was a strong performance. Brissett's arm talent is obvious, he has poise in the pocket, responds well to pressure, knows when to run and when to dump it off, and in general plays a game that gives his team a chance to win. He was gun shy at times, I thought he had some chances to go downfield throughout the game, but he mostly didn't; on the double play action fake that resulted in a sack, he even had a dumpoff that he didn't come down to in enough time. On the second sack he had open receivers short, but didn't check down before the pressure got there. He was betrayed by receivers on a few plays, including a bad drop by Moncrief. He needs more touch on short throws, and his footwork is sloppy at times, leading to some bad throws on crossing routes. If they continue to deploy him like they did Sunday, and if the receivers show up, and he just speeds up his processing in the pocket, he'll be more than good enough until Luck comes back. C+, the pick was awful, but this was a respectable game Backs / receivers / TEs: The backs were pretty well bottled up all game, Gore had a 13 yarder up the middle, but other than that it was pretty dry. Mack got met in the backfield or cut off at the corner on almost every carry, and finished with negative yardage. The receivers were inconsistent, giving plenty of reasons to question their effort, which is problematic. I'm giving Moncrief a pass on the long throw that he apparently lost in the lights, but he short armed the deep crossing pattern that he should have just run through and might have had a big YAC gain. The TEs, led by Doyle, had a good game; the chemistry between Doyle and Brissett is impressive. The WRs were really the disappointment here -- 9/23 on targets to wide outs. C, need sharper play from the receivers OL / blocking: The pass pro was decent, there were some blown assignments and AC got beat a couple times, but in general the pass blocking gave the QB enough time and a clean enough pocket to go through his progressions and find receivers. The run blocking was very sloppy, at times with unblocked linemen getting a free release to the ball carrier, too much penetration on outside runs, too much penetration on those early screen plays, etc. And the receivers -- Moncrief, Bray and Aiken -- did a poor job blocking the edge on outside runs. I'm again disappointed in the effort from the WR group. Let's hope AC is just going through early season jitters and gets it together. I'm not too worried about the 4 sacks, I think the QB held the ball too long. More damaging were the drive-killing penalties and the blown blocks in the run game. C, lack of consistent lineups is hard to overcome Defense, B-: 65 plays, 389 yards, 17 first downs (14 passing, 2 rushing, 1 penalty), 6/15 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 0/3 red zone, 1 turnover, 16 points; still promising work up front, struggles in pass coverage Defensive front: Really good game up front, in both phases. The run defense speaks for itself, the Cardinals couldn't do anything positive most of the game, the fits and edge play got sloppy on a couple of plays (one got called back due to a ticky tack hold), but mostly positive. They did a good job rushing the passer also. While there wasn't an overabundance of pressure, the Cardinals used a 6th OL on 23% of their plays. Blitzes were mostly ineffective, and they hurt the pass coverage -- Palmer was 78% against the blitz with a passer rating of 149. The edge play was good, Sheard and Simon had strong performances, and the inside backers did a good job supporting the run, especially Jeremiah George, who picked up where he left off in preseason. More penetration up the middle would help. B+, tough, physical, disciplined -- all important when you don't have explosive playmakers in the front seven Pass defense: For all the talk about how bad Palmer was, he threw for 332 yards and a 9.2 average. The long TD was the most painful play, but the 3rd and 20 just before was when the damage started. There were a good 8-10 pass plays where he had receivers wide open in the second level, and they had 12 pass plays of 10+ yards. Pretty much every time we went zone, Palmer diced it up, and pretty much every time we sacrificed the integrity of the coverage with a blitz, he killed it. Melvin had a nice game, but still got beat a few times, and I believe he had a blown coverage on a second level TE catch. Wilson and Hairston are exciting, but they need a lot of coaching when it comes to outside technique, handling stacked releases, etc. We were a step late or a foot behind on several plays. Bostic was lost in coverage all game, as was Kenny Moore. I get the feeling the pass coverage will get incrementally better as the season goes on, but we still haven't faced a really good QB or a very talented receiver group yet. No need for Green at corner, but I don't think they've given up on him yet. Hooker's pick was a gift, really bad decision and bad throw by Palmer. C-, too many open receivers throughout the game Special teams: Solid game, Sanchez had one bad punt, but they were strategic with kickoffs and covered well. Moore's penalty was dumb, but he must have missed the fair catch signal, which happens when you're gunning. AV bounced back with a typical performance. Bray seems shaky on returns, and even put the ball on the ground. I get the feeling an onside kick is on the way... B Coaching / play calling / game management: The defensive gameplan was basically 'bend, don't break,' and that worked most of the game, with the exception of the TD drive and the INT drive. There was an interesting mix of blitzes and 8 man coverages, man vs zone, which worked a lot of the time, but there was about a 20-25 play stretch where the Cardinals figured out the coverage. B Chud had his hands full on offense, and did a reasonably good job of deploying his backup QB and keeping the offense in favorable situations. The penalties and drops hurt more than anything, especially the second half penalties that seemed to stall out good drives. The wildcat snap was interesting; Gore could have pitched it out to Brissett for a good gain, so I wonder if they'll continue to build on that package. Same with the read option stuff. The play calling right before the 2 minute warning was bad. I still don't like Chud's 3rd down play calling, a lot of it doesn't target the chains well enough. And the offensive coaches have to figure out how to run screen plays. B- I didn't mind the first quarter challenge; the Colts wanted to sustain drives, and there was a chance that Hilton had crossed the marker before he was touched. End of the day, the challenge didn't hurt anything. I didn't mind the late timeout before the FG, and when you freeze the kicker and it works, it's a good thing. Gonna ding the entire staff here for the late 12 man penalties (one avoided with a timeout, the other resulted in a penalty directly after a timeout, both inexcusable). C+ Callin 'em out: Anthony Castonzo -- Fail Malik Hooker -- Pass John Simon -- Pass Marlon Mack -- INC TJ Green -- INC Rob Chudzinski -- Pass Chuck Pagano -- Push Ted Monachino -- Pass Donte Moncrief -- Fail Jon Bostic -- Fail Game ball: n/a Next up, the Cleveland Browns, unbelievably favored on the road for the first time in like three years. Hilton all but guaranteed a win this week, and that worked out last year. Let's see if he and his receiver compadres bring a little more heart to this one.
  5. This is gonna be ugly. Usually, even in a blowout, you can point to a handful of plays that could have gone differently and resulted in a much closer game. I don't really feel that way in this one. Even without the two INT returns, we got outscored by 21. Sad outcome after waiting 8 months for a real Colts game. Box score Snap counts Offense, D: 49 plays, 225 yards, 10 first downs (6 passing, 3 rushing, 1 from penalty), 0/10 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 1/2 red zone, 4 turnovers (including the safety), -7 points (gave up 16 points on turnovers and the safety); calling this offensive showing "pathetic" is too kind, the aggregate grade doesn't emphasize the putridness of this performance QB: Tolzien was awful. Inaccurate throws, late throws, no poise in the pocket, no calm under pressure, was rattled from jump, and just got worse. Didn't keep his eyes downfield when he felt pressure, he missed almost every down field throw he attempted, and just generally played one of the worst games of QB we've seen in a long time. We had 11 total completions, and didn't have any yards in the entire third quarter. Brissett showed that he's far more talented in just 9 snaps. The sooner he learns enough of a package to start, the better. F, Brissett saved the minus Backs / receivers / TEs: The backs ran well. Gore churned out yards, Mack needs to be a tad more patient but showed his defining trait, and they both caught the ball well and earned yardage after catch. Mack's fumble is disappointing, but when you get held up and a defender starts raking, you're in trouble. Hilton's fumble was bad, but he did his job as a receiver. Not a good game to judge pass catchers. C, ball security is the only negative OL / blocking: Leaky pass pro, jumbled run blocking. There were some good individual moments, and there's reason to believe the line can play well enough if the offense ever gets into a rhythm. They created some small holes in the run game, and Gore did a good job of finding them and getting through. AC got whipped at LT, Good was decent at RT, and everyone else had good and bad moments in both phases. Still struggled picking up stunts and delayed rushers, still not good in the screen game. I put 75% of the blame for sacks on the QB. C-, so sloppy you'd think 80% of the line is changed... Defense, D+: 64 plays, 373 yards, 19 first downs, 13 passing, 5 rushing, 1 from penalty), 5/14 on third down, 2/4 red zone, 0 turnovers, 30 points; good run defense, awful pass coverage, no pass rush, no playmaking Defensive front: The run defense was pretty good. The only times Gurley got out of the backfield were when the Rams held, and those plays came back. Missed some tackles, including on the TD, which was ridiculous. Overpursued on the couple of designed counters, but for the most part they held the edge and stayed strong up the middle. Al Woods was much better than I anticipated. Pass rush didn't get home pretty much at all, and that's because we don't have pass rushers. Mingo had a couple nice rushes, Ridgeway had a couple nice beats, and Hunt got home once, but the pressure wasn't anywhere near consistent, and that's problematic because we can't cover. The ILBs were hit and miss, had some nice stops and then some poor tackling efforts, some nice covers then got beat. Bostic was very active, but his hand limits him. Morrison started out well, then faded, and maybe that's because of the injury. George was active just like in preseason, he might get more and more time with Morrison and Walker hurt. I'm continually impressed by the way Hairston supports the run and tackles. C+, the front was by far the best unit of the day, and that's with zero pass rush Pass defense: Unsurprisingly, they struggled to cover at almost every level. Any misdirection -- play action, screens, whatever -- was successful for the Rams, and then they still were able to beat us deep on a couple plays. Second level coverage had blown plays also. Top to bottom, bad coverage. There were some decent plays, but they went 22/30 on us, so we didn't cover well. The TJ Green experiment continues to have mixed results; he was flat footed at the top of Kupp's TD route, which is a continual problem for him. Melvin is not a good player; he used to at least tackle well, but no more. Wilson struggled at the point, but was again in good position; he needs more reps. D-, I knew McVay would upgrade their passing attack, but we put up zero resistance Special teams: Sad that we couldn't even get this right. Got blown up on punt returns, gave up a 35 yard kick return, and missed two field goals. Recovered a muffed punt, but not really of our own doing. And then the missed kicks by AV... when it rains, it pours. I think Sanchez's holds were bad, the ball was leaning away from the kicker on both. They'll figure that out. D, mistake city Coaching / play calling / game management, D-: Monachino didn't dial anything up to manufacture a pass rush, but really didn't have the situations to do so. The Rams countered any pressure with quick hitters (imagine that!) and kept the QB out of trouble. I didn't have any problem with his approach or gameplan, but we have to cover better. If we had a pass rush, I'd suggest more Cover 3. C I have the usual issues with Chud's play calling -- some nonsense route combos on 3rd and short, etc. And again, the inability to run a screen is a coaching issue. But inept QB play and leaky protection are the bigger issues. C- Why not challenge the goal line play? We went hurry up like we thought there was a fumble or something... And then the general lack of execution points to a lack of preparation and ability to refine your gameplan into something the team can actually perform at a winning level. Awful coaching performance from the top. F Game ball: Yeah right... Callin 'em out: Later this week, I'm bringing back "Callin 'em out," which will be a thread where we post who needs to play well for the team to win, what adjustments have to be made, what you'll have your eye on, etc., and I'll reference that thread in the grades. Next, home opener vs the Cards. Still no Luck. Who will start at QB (we already know it will be Tolzien, but here's hoping it's not), will the offense convert a third down, will we give up less than 40 points, etc. Kind of a sad state of affairs right now, but it can't get much worse than Sunday's game. GO COLTS!
  6. I haven't been able to do weekly grades at all this season, just too much going on. However I have been keeping notes, rewatching games, etc., and I figured this extended week was a good time to dump some of those notes; I wanted to do this during the bye week, but didn't have the time. I'm going to use my typical grade format, for the most part. Let's start with the offense. Offense: 14th in yards/game (352.4), 11th in points/game (24.5), T-14th in turnovers (13), 10th in 3rd down % (42.5%), T-14th in 4th down % (53.8%), 2nd in red zone efficiency (68.6% TD rate), 11th most penalties (77), C- QBs: The playmaker has returned, and despite some rough patches at times, he's just as good as always, better in some ways. He's done a good job of limiting turnovers, which is an improvement over his shortened 2015. He's just as fearless going down the field, fitting the ball in tight windows, hanging in the pocket until the last minute -- all the traits that make him such a dynamic playmaker. His accuracy seems improved, for the most part, especially when he has time, and when he's decisively moving outside the pocket. There are still some throws that sail, or wind up behind receivers, or come a little late, but those are mostly timing and/or footwork issues influenced by a crowded pocket. He's also been aggressive as a runner, but smart about getting down when the play is over (took a sharp hit near the goal line against the Titans, but he was trying to get a TD). He's been effective to all areas of the field as a passer, and without his play, the Colts would probably be winless this year. My only complaint is that he continues to hold the ball too long, but I believe that's a function of the play calling. To whatever extent Luck likes the hold the ball -- and he obviously does -- the coaches have to get the ball out of his hands more quickly through scheme, but more on that in coaching... Just a few words about Tolzien -- he showed against the Steelers that he's tough, he has some playmaking DNA to him, and he can put the ball in tight windows. I hate his delivery and mechanics, but he can push the ball down the field, unlike Hasselbeck and Whitehurst. He's a capable backup, for sure. B, the strength of the team, could be more efficient Receivers: This unit was meant to be a strength of the team. They have not been. Hilton has been very good, but has had a few untimely drops that have marred his record, and he's been pretty nicked up throughout the season. Moncrief was hurt for a while, and his volume production hasn't been great, but he's still been productive, especially in the red zone, and he puts a scare into defenses. No one else has been consistent, including Dorsett, which is partly about coaching but also has to do with his own missteps at times, including some drops. Doyle has been a very pleasant surprise as probably the second best receiving option on the team so far, definitely the top TE, with Allen having a disappointing first half of the season. Again, drops have been brutal from one of the supposed leaders of the team. The backs have been okay as receivers, but haven't been weaponized as much as I would personally prefer, specifically on screens and angle routes. The hopeful gadget back -- Ferguson -- struggles in pass pro and can't run between the tackles, so his reps had to be purposeful, and they've disappeared entirely over the last month. I believe coaching to be a detriment to the passing game, to an extent, but the receivers have made things hard on themselves with some general sloppiness and lack of focus / intensity. C, not playing up to standard, have left a lot of plays on the field Blocking: You'll notice a pattern when I say that I think the coaching hasn't helped the blocking. I'll also mention the impact that injuries have had, as the line seems to be shuffled every week. The run game has struggled to find any kind of rhythm, as there have been times where any semblance of offensive balance has gone out of the window earlier than necessary. Then other times, the line has seemed incapable of opening any running lanes for the backs. There are technical issues with individual blockers that seem to undermine potentially positive plays, and then there are overly complicated schemes that don't produce anything. Likewise in pass pro, there are individual issues and unit issues. Lots of inexperience and lack of cohesiveness on the OL. There's also a lack of focus among some of the veteran players (AC, Reitz). I think the two best lineups are capable of playing better than they have, but between injuries and some players playing below their capabilities, the protection hasn't been good. The line has given up multiple sacks in every game, and is on the way to 55 sacks this season, not to mention a ton of QB hits. Again, I think the passing concepts share a significant amount of blame, but the line definitely isn't protecting well. The backs have missed a lot of protections, and the TEs have been inconsistent in protection, including some major whiffs. D, no run game, poor protection, but I fully believe they can perform better Offensive coaching: Okay, so I keep mentioning the coaching. If you've read any of my thoughts after games, you'll find these comments familiar. There is a glaring lack of short passing concepts from the Colts, and it's not a new thing. They've been working on the pick play and crossing stuff lately, but that takes timing, good ball placement, and sure-handed receivers. Hardly any screens, and it seems like 75% of their tries get blown up. Even fewer slants, and half of those get tipped at the line because they don't cut block the edge to clear the passing lane. There are other quick hitting concepts that lend themselves to high efficiency passing and generally help to make up for leaky pass blocking, and they just don't use them with any regularity. To me, this is unacceptable for a team with such a troubled pass pro unit. I like the general aggressiveness of the play calling, but it needs to be balanced with high efficiency play calling, and it's mostly not. The run game hasn't benefited either. Some of the run schemes seem overly complicated and slow to develop. To the positive, there have been some clever and timely play calls and schemes. The ability to threaten down the field is something that will always be a staple of any Andrew Luck offense, and the Colts have relied on that ability to establish themselves as an explosive offense. The coaching just needs to enhance the efficiency of the offense, and it's not doing that so far. C-, looking to maximize Luck's strengths, but not minimizing the weaknesses on the OL Defense: 30th in yards allowed (395/game), 26th in points allowed (27.4/game), 27th in completion percentage against (66%), T-32nd in yards/play (6.2, with Raiders), T-29th in takeaways (8, Jags the worst at 7), 25th on third down (43.1%), T-12th on 4th down (40%), T-30th most penalties (88), D+ Run game: They've given up over 100 yards rushing in all but three games this season, including 158 to the Texans, in one of the sloppiest efforts with regard to run defense since the Patriots playoff games. In general, the run fits and edge play is decent, but there are 5-7 plays every game where the edge collapses, or the backers overpursue. And then there were more missed tackles in the first month than anyone cares to remember. It doesn't seem like there's anyone up front who can hold up against a double team, much less make a play. Henry Anderson is still not back to form, which shouldn't be surprising. More concerning to me than the DL though is the sloppy edge play and missed tackles. We need more talent and speed in the front, obviously, but simple execution would improve the run defense. They were extremely physical up front against the Chargers; it would be nice to see more of that. The safeties have mostly done a nice job in run support, but they've missed tackles as well. C-, too many missed opportunities Pass rush: The most glaring weakness on the defense, on track for a paltry 32 sacks, and not a lot of pressures to make up for it. Walden has been relatively good, but is not a game changing pass rusher. Mathis has been MIA, the interior pressure almost never gets home, blitzes seem to be a half second late... I'm not going to spend a lot of words on this, it's obvious to everyone that without a premiere pass rusher, the Colts can't effectively pressure QBs. I will give credit for a couple of surprisingly effective games against the Titans and Packers. D, no consistent impact Pass coverage: The coverage has been undermined by both injuries and an ineffective pass rush, but the somewhat passive approach at times has nullified any tandem effort with the pass rush. That passivity has kind of been necessary due to the injuries, though. Catch-22. Melvin has gotten some attention lately, mostly because he's long, athletic, aggressive and tough, but he struggles to mirror receivers, and he gets penalized too much. Davis hasn't been sharp, maybe due to injury, but also seemingly due to a lack of focus, IMO. Butler and Robinson haven't been good, and both have been injured also. The safeties have been decent, with Geathers coming on nicely lately, but he's also dealt with injuries, which have forced Green on the field more than is ideal. Green is full of unrealized potential, but just like at Clemson, he struggles to track the ball in the air, and continues to give up big plays because of it. The ILBs are no good in space, especially one on one coverage, and the middle of the field and the flats are basically a treasure trove for good offenses. The pass coverage has the potential to get better, based on some of the coaching they've been doing in recent weeks, but they've also given up some big games to very average QBs, so I'm not sure I can be too optimistic. C-, handicapped by the pass rush to an extent, but lots of blown coverages and mistakes Defensive coaching: I think the coaching has been handcuffed by the injuries, especially in the secondary. Looking at the Green Bay game and some positive stretches in other games, I think I can see what they want to do defensively. They want to use multiple coverages, especially across the middle. They want to vary their blitzes and stay aggressive on the outside. They want to contain the edges and penetrate up front against the run. And the want to keep the ball in front of the deep safety. For the most part, this plays into the strengths of the defense. Where the scheme fails is when they get stretched out due to lack of edge containment, which leads to missed tackles and big plays. It also fails when they give up plays in the flats, again getting stretched out, which is a major problem for a defensive front lacking athleticism. Once they get stretched out, they back off, and then smart offenses attack short over and over again, including with power runs. It also doesn't help that there have been so many injuries. In general, the only answer is more athleticism. The defense has had some nice stretches, but without a stronger pass rush and better playmakers in the middle, they'll continue to get beat. The big mistakes don't help, either. C+, I see the vision, but the tools aren't there for it to come together Special teams: 3rd in avg KO return (27.1 yards/return), 27th in avg punt return (6.4 yards/return), 1 return TD, 9th in avg KO return against (20.1 yards/return), 18th in avg punt return against (9.5 yards/return), zero return TDs allowed, zero blocked punts/kicks Kicking/punting: AV has been money, and was on fire up until the miss against the Titans. He's never had a perfect season, and I feel bad for him because I don't think we should have kicked the FG against the Titans, the one he wound up missing. Anyways, he's been great, and I bet he has the misses out of his system. McAfee has continued to be a weapon, with the fake punt play, an onside kick converted, and generally good punting. The coverage has missed a couple opportunities to pin punts down inside the five, or else Pat's net average would be even better than it is (he's first in the league in gross and net). A, no complaints, best kicker/punter duo in the league Returners: Several muffs and questionable returns so far. Bray being hurt hasn't helped, and they've cycled through a bunch of other players. Rogers seems to have settled into the punt return role, and kick returns aren't as tricky to field. Todman had the great return TD, and there have been a couple other big returns. It's been a few weeks since any egregious return mistakes. C, when in doubt, let it drop Kickoff / punt coverage: Besides the aforementioned misses on downed punts, the coverage has been good in both areas. The punt return average is a little high, but that's due to a couple 20+ returns, nothing that got close to the end zone. The shorter kickoffs have been a mixed bag, but they used them effectively in the second Titans game, and covered them well. B Special teams coaching: A, the tricks and proven effectiveness at recovering onside kicks is becoming a staple of the Colts' special teams units. All anyone talks about is the failed fake punt last season, but the Colts are dangerous on special teams, and every opponent knows it. Game management: I like the aggressiveness in certain situations, including onside kicks and 4th down attempts. I think there was a missed 4th down opportunity against the Titans, and it might have hurt the team. The clock management at the end of the Lions game might have cost them the game. There's not much to say about challenges; Pagano is 2/3. Despite Pagano's willingness to go for it and call fakes, he still trends toward conservative decision making, especially when decisions have to be made quickly. Best offensive performers: Andrew Luck (makes everything go), Jack Doyle (very pleasant surprise, 2nd leading receiver) Best defensive performers: Erik Walden (tone setter, leading in sacks), Clayton Geathers (at his best, a difference maker) Most disappointing offensive players: Anthony Castonzo (should be a rock at LT, has been inconsistent and given up too many pressures/sacks), Dwayne Allen (too many drops) Most disappointing defensive players: Vontae Davis (mostly dealing with injury, but has been beat too much), Robert Mathis (still doesn't have a solid sack, not closing well) Projection: We're 5-6, which isn't good. I believe we've given away three games so far, but this team isn't a contender. The Texans aren't anything to be afraid of, so the division is still in play, but you figure they'd have to win out, and get some help since Houston has only 4 losses right now. Two division games to go, both at home, including Houston, but three road games -- Jets, Vikings and the AFC leading Raiders (I'll be at that game, by the way). The Jets are kind of a mess, and the Vikings have slowed down, but none of these games are gimmes. The Texans haven't quite hit their stride, either; I could see them playing better than they have so far. I'd put the Colts chances of making the playoffs at 25% right now. If I had to bet, I'd put money on another second place finish at 8-8. GO COLTS!
  7. Week 4 grades Offense, B+: 59 plays, 323 yards, 22 first downs (10 passing, 6 rushing, 6 from penalty), 3/11 on third down, 1/1 on fourth down, 3/4 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 27 points; even, balanced production, my only gripe is we were bad on third down QB: For a guy who was as sick as reported (Pagano said he was "literally on his death bed," lol), Hasselbeck was very sharp. Throws were accurate, he was more effective going downfield, he spread the ball around, and most importantly, he was decisive and confident. He took a couple of hits that weren't logged, but really didn't face much pressure, and never had to throw the ball away. He roasted the blitz (10/16, 153 yards, 1 TD), and overall was able to get rid of the ball so quickly that the Texans rushers were nullified. Receivers dropped five passes, by the way. He made the right reads, put the ball where it needed to be, and made more than enough plays, including the fourth down to AJ and the game-ending throw to Hilton. On the road, four days rest, fresh out of the hospital with IVs sticking out of his arms all week, and played an excellent game. A, you at least want to be able to go .500 with a backup QB, and we're 2-0 with ours so far Backs / receivers / tight ends: B- Running game: Gore got it going again, and was ::thisclose:: to his first 100 yard game as a Colt. There were some runs that didn't gain a lot of yardage, but they were still productive as they kept the defense honest and set up play action. He found lanes to run, mostly because he wasn't shy about going outside or cutting back, and like always, he proved difficult to bring down, with 59 yards after contact. Tipton had a nice carry for a near first down, but Robinson couldn't do anything in three carries. I think 22 carries is a bit much for Gore, but he knew what to do with them. B, solid production, churned out a lot of tough yards Passing game: Andre Johnson does have a pulse. He didn't outrun anyone, but he capitalized on smart play calls and good ball placement and made four really big plays. Houston was obviously pre-occupied with Hilton, and tried to keep him from destroying them like he usually does, so he had a mostly quiet night, but still put the game away at the end. Moncrief teased us in the first month, and then had a bad game, including a drop and a missed opportunity to make a big play. The TEs didn't do much, but Allen had a big gain and Fleener held on to some contested balls. Five drops overall, but the entire group made plays and kept the pressure on the defense, which is impressive considering they didn't practice with their QB all week. B-, dinged for the drops and some dry spells, but not a bad game at all OL / blocking: Protection comes out smelling like a rose, and that's due in large part to a smart gameplan and decisive QBing (2.12 seconds before attempt, on average, and only 6 dropbacks that took more than 2.5 seconds). However, they were active and aggressive against the Texans, didn't let Watt anywhere near the QB, knocked him off track and even off his feet multiple times, and blocked well on the move plays also, which can be tricky. Four official pressures in 29 dropbacks, no sacks, is good. The run blocking was good as well, there were some misses and a couple penalties, but the pulling action was good, there was push, the outside was sealed effectively (maybe not consistently), and the interior guys got to the second level and did damage. Combo blocks were good, aside from a chop block penalty, and we weren't awful on screen passes. They controlled the game well up front, and still have room to get better. B+, hopefully this group can get in a rhythm Offensive coaching: Built well on the previous week's gameplan, taking it even a step further. How much was dictated by the QB and how much was by design is impossible to tell, but no question that keeping the QB clean has been a point of emphasis. The increased rollouts and play action (8/9 and a passer rating of 146.3 on play action) are obviously influenced by coaching, and the percentage of play action is the highest of the season by far. Good balance between run and pass. It's egregious that we didn't start the season with this kind of offensive play calling, which is easy to build off of, and the first TD to AJ shows the benefit of having a respectable run game and using a little play action. Please stick with this. B+ Defense, C: 70 plays, 444 yards, 24 first downs (17 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 8/16 on third down, 1/1 on fourth down, 2 turnovers, 20 points allowed; sloppy in the secondary, tackling wasn't good, and the pass rush was ineffective Defensive front: Decent against the run, only allowing 82 rushing yards, and 14 were on a QB scramble. But Arian Foster is still not 100%, and we still let him get too many gains of 4+ yards, due to some substandard gap work and tackling. Net result is definitely acceptable, but the performance wasn't as good as it should have been. Some impressive run stops by D'Qwell again, who at times looks like he's on a high speed track directly to the ball carrier, and is doing a good job staying off of blocks. Anderson continued to defeat blockers and make run stops also. The pass rush was a sore spot, only 12 throws under pressure, and the "sack" was just a stopped scramble. There was some pressure, and we did move the QB at times and even push up the middle to shrink the pocket, but just couldn't get home. With the conservative coverage, there was a need for some immediate pressure, and it just didn't happen. The Texans QB mostly got rid of the ball decisively, but there were some plays where we had a chance to get to them. No, we're not at 100% up front, but I don't see the pass rush suddenly improving even when we get healthy. The blitzes came close, but there just weren't enough of them. C+, poor pass rush and questionable gap play is a recipe for disaster against a good team Pass defense: Simply put, the worst part of the team right now. Toler got burned all game, and while I didn't think his coverage was awful, he just couldn't prevent his man from getting the ball, which is ultimately what a corner is graded on. First game back and all, but not a good showing. Davis wasn't healthy and gave up some plays. Really, Hopkins just feasted on everyone, and it's mostly because we played off and zoned up more than we ideally would, and that led to the second TD by Strong. Nothing needs to be said about the failed Hail Mary coverage. Butler had a good game, which is encouraging because we were able to get him back inside where he plays best, and he held up well. The ILBs gave up 104 yards alone, most of it on cross-matches with WRs (somehow we let D'Qwell get lined up against Hopkins, our worst cover man against their best receiver) and dumpoffs to the flats. Again, a product of a conservative gameplan, and hopefully we can scrap that soon. A bad pass rush and a passive coverage scheme combine for nearly 400 yards receiving, and that's with JAG QBs and only one true receiving threat. D, no resistance and the Hail Mary, and the only saving grace is the two gift INTs Defensive coaching: Good run blitzes after the Texans started out with some good gains, and from then on we mostly won in the box. But the gameplan is overly conservative, especially in coverage, even acknowledging the injuries. The long week off comes at a good time, but we have to get back to some press coverage and let the guys run around and play more aggressively. Most teams will take the underneath stuff if you give it to them, and we're getting ready to play a team that makes its living almost entirely off of maximizing the underneath stuff. The blitzes don't get home, either, so that's not really an answer (Texans were 6/9 against the blitz). I'm cutting some slack still because of the injuries, but Manusky and Pagano have to simplify things without neutralizing what the team does best. Maybe that's easier said than done. C Special teams: Only three punts, and all were pretty good, as was the coverage; they got one big return but only because they held Geathers and kept him from getting downfield. No kick returns for them. Griff was able to rumble for 50 yards on a return, which is a big bonus and set up a TD drive. AV is hopefully past his early season woes, and was perfect on kicks. B+ Game management: A demerit for the Hail Mary coverage, specifically because Pagano is a defensive backs coach. Otherwise, game management was pretty simple. Never trailed, always had an answer, especially opening up the second half with a TD to keep the momentum from swinging all the way over to the Texans side, and to whatever extent the head coach is influencing the offensive game plans, I hope he keeps stressing the importance of decisive QBing and using play action. B- Game ball: Andre Johnson, fitting time for him to have a good game, in the stadium where he set the pace for his former team for over a decade. If he couldn't get up for this game, it probably never would have happened, but the truth is that good coaching and QBing were more critical than anything he did. Still, he was productive, had a big play up his sleeve whenever we needed it, and this might be the best game he has all year. Hopefully he can give us more of this. Next up: The Patriots. I confused myself last week into thinking we had a bye this week, which we could really use right now. Oh well. Guess we'll have to settle for curb-stomping the presently undefeated defending champs, who are probably nervous about playing under our AFC Finalist banner... J/K I hope it's a good game, I hope Luck plays, I hope the line holds up, I hope we stop the run, I hope we tackle well, and I hope we send them home feeling ... deflated. Let's see... GO COLTS!!!
  8. Could just call this "The Grade" Week 1 grades Defense, C: 62 plays, 344 yards, 20 first downs (13 passing, 3 rushing, 4 from penalty), 4/12 on third down, 2/3 in the red zone, 1 turnover, 20 points; held us in the game until the last ten minutes Defensive front: Not a lot of pass rush again, but the Jets went quick rhythm passing most of the game to keep Fitzpatrick clean. That was helped by our lack of coverage, but I'll get to that in a minute. Fitz's average time to attempt was 2.14 seconds, so there weren't a lot of opportunities, but even when there were, we didn't quite get to him. Anderson was awarded a sack on a scramble play where he shoestringed the QB. There were a couple other hits and a few pressures, but not much. The run defense on the other hand was outstanding, aside from two carries late in the game. Kind of disheartening that we couldn't stay tough when there was actually a shot of snatching the momentum, but the defense had been asked to hold tough for a long time to that point. Short yardage was locked down most of the game. Anderson is really good, and Parry played really well also. Langford and Winn both looked good. The run support from ILBs and safeties was good, and Freeman and Jackson bounced back from ugly games in the opener. B-, give me some pass rush, and we'll be in business Pass defense: Tough night, as we were missing our projected #2-4 corners, and then #1 got hurt. Even before Vontae went out, though, he was having a little bit of a rough game. Two penalties (legit calls, IMO, but I've seen a lot worse not called), and then he got picked for the TD to Decker (first TD allowed in 27 games, and it came on a play he couldn't have prevented unless he were superhuman). Still good plays from him, including the tip on the INT, and then the quality of coverage went waaay down once he left. Had to play a lot more zone than we usually do, and it left some guys open right away and up the seams. When the QB can find a guy right away, he doesn't have to hold the ball, and it undermines any of our pass rush opportunities. But our hands were tied. Manusky went back to more man later in the game, and that didn't work either, so I don't know what else we could have asked for, given the personnel. Some unfortunate cross-matches, with Jackson getting beat by Decker in the slot. Other than that, the ILBs and safeties were decent. I think Geathers is getting better every game. Give us back our corners and maybe this is a different outcome, but they went pretty conservative in the second half, kind of sensing that our offense was going to be awful all night. Their passing game was just efficient enough and made just enough plays to put the game away at the end. C, very average, but with scout team personnel Offense, D+: 61 plays, 343 yards, 17 first downs (11 passing, 4 rushing, 2 from penalty), 6/14 on third down, 0/2 in the red zone, 5 turnovers, 7 points; it's really hard to believe how inept the passing game was, and how stubborn we were to not rely more on the ground game QB: Never got in any kind of rhythm, again missed big opportunities (missed Allen on a deep cross that would probably have gone for 6, missed AJ for a first down, etc., etc., etc.), seemed flustered with and without pressure, throws were high, throws were behind, throws were late, some were inexplicably floated, etc. Faced more pressure this week than last, easily, but again, the blitz beaters rely on him making the plays that are there to be made, and he just didn't. Got on a little bit of a roll on two possessions, and one ended with a missed FG after a weird set of downs (more in coaching), and the other ended in the only score of the night. The rest of the game, he was dreadful. Probably the worst game I've seen from him, ever. There have been games with big mistakes, but there was still a lot of playmaking and production. There have been games with minimal production, but not a lot of mind blowing mistakes. It was the worst of both worlds on Monday. Somebody call a doctor. D-, we'll probably never see a game like this from him again, at least I hope Backs / receivers / tight ends, C+: Running game: The backs were good on the ground. Again, not enough opportunities, and we didn't use them situationally when we should have. Varga didn't even get a carry. Big carries got called back for holding penalties (ticky tack, IMO). Gore got whacked a couple times, and the goal line series wasn't great, but he bent the corner on third down... and then the fumble happened. Unreal how everything that could go wrong did go wrong in this game. Just give them more opportunities, especially when it's rolling. Some missed protections and the fumble (and Robinson's near fumble) are the only negatives here, IMO. B, the numbers don't show it due to a handful of stops, but the rushing attack was good Passing game: The receivers played reasonably well. There was some tough coverage out there, and the QB didn't have a lot of time to work through progressions, but several times guys got open and had chances at big plays. Moncrief was almost unstoppable. AJ didn't look great, but he did shake free a few times, and wasn't found, or the ball was behind him. Some missed connections to Hilton and Dorsett, but they both found some room to operate. I felt like there were a few poorly run routes, which resulted in too many receivers in one area and maybe some mixed signals between them and Luck on some checks and reads. Revis alternated between all the receivers all game long, and had a lot of success, but also got beat some. AJ and Moncrief both blocked well in the few screen situations they had. Nothing to the TEs, which is a traves-sham-ockery. C+, one day, this diverse and explosive group is going to go off, I can see it on the way OL / blocking: Too many penalties, again. Some of them were cheap, I thought, but that has to be cleaned up. So do the protections. I don't know what Lance Louis and Todd Herremans are doing half the time. Some of this is bad blocking schemes, like the overly complicated protection on the very first offensive play of the game, where Louis couldn't get all the way over to the right edge from LG. But lots of it was just getting beat and missing assignments, and they're leaving their QB (and their center) out to dry far too often. The tackles didn't have a good game either, and we opted to keep TEs more often than we should have to (not as often as you might think when you see that neither had a target all game long). But in the run game, it's a different story. Herremans was off and on, but I think everyone else did a good job consistently of sealing lanes and even moving their man off the line. Doyle wasn't good run blocking, and that's an issue because that's the reason he's on the roster. D+, the protection was really bad, despite the adequate run blocking Special teams: AV better get it together. Last missed kick from that close was the 6 INT game in the rain in San Diego in 2007. Can't miss easy kicks, sir. Pat's punting was good. Nothing in the return games, and coverage was good. Only blemish was the missed kick. B Coaching / playcalling / game management, D: Last week I reserved some of my offensive gameplan ire, since the narrative was that Luck was making a lot of calls at the line. Well forget that, because it's obvious this week that the calls being made were coming from the sideline. For instance, the 3rd and 2 that I keep bringing up, we ran that play after a timeout, and came out in the same personnel and formation as before the timeout. The only adjustments were protection. This isn't all on Luck. The route combinations make no sense at times. The timing is off. We have multiple receivers in the same spot on the field. The stubborn refusal to stick to the run is maddening. The lack of screen plays (where's the middle screen to Gore?) is nonsensical. Pep has used all goodwill. What we're doing on offense makes no sense, and it's his job to direct the offense. That includes taking pressure off of the OL, giving the QB high percentage throws (especially when he's struggling), relying on the productive ground game, sticking to what's working and scrapping what's not working, etc. F- Manusky held this thing together with masking tape and kite string, and it was good enough. No help from the offense or special teams. Some think the defense kind of maxed out, since this wasn't a great offensive opponent, but we had no corners. The guys up front are being dispatched very well, IMO. Some of his best work, if you ask me. B+ I don't put the offensive stuff on Pagano this week. That's why you have an offensive coordinator, a QB coach, and an offensive minded Associate Head Coach. But if this lingers, it undermines his standing as the CEO of this team. Some complained about letting the clock run out at the end of the first half, but I get it; I didn't want to see our offense go out there and trip all over themselves again either. Couldn't get to the locker room fast enough in that situation. I don't usually grade post game pressers, but I liked his testiness, and I agree 100% with what he said. Most of the errors in this game were by our best players on game changing plays (picks, fumbles, penalties negating big gains, missed kicks, defensive fouls in the end zone). Coaching has to clean those things up, but that's more execution than coaching. End result is on him, though, even if not strictly related to game management. D+ No game ball again, but Honorable Mention to Donte Moncrief for 1) making the only scoring play of the night, and 2) shaking Revis along the way. Someone got better after the AFCCG lockup. Next up, let's hope a divisional matchup helps us get out of this rut. Haven't lost a division game since Week 15, 2012. No reason that can't continue. GO COLTS!!!
  9. Ugly start. Offense, C-: 68 plays, 304 yards, 23 first downs (16 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 8/15 on third down, 1/2 on 4th down, 2/2 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 14 points; sloppy QBing, poor play calling, and untimely penalties... we aren't good enough to play bad football and still beat talented teams QB: Eerily reminiscent to the way he started last season, missing receivers and seeming half a beat too slow. He had the second lowest accuracy rating in the league (ahead of only Jameis Winston). High throws, low throws, late throws, underthrows, etc. And then there's this stuff about him checking out of run plays, which is cool when you're killing against the blitz, but he was 9/23 against the blitz. And yet, despite the overall poor play, there was some playmaking out there, a few 'that's the QB everyone's been raving about' throws, and when he settled down in the third quarter, the Bills couldn't touch him. Still not great and not super efficient, but if he had been just a little sharper, the game would have been different. D+, looked a lot like the Chiefs game in 2012 Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: Maybe the plan is to prevent people from saying the run game is bad by just not running the ball at all... smh. When they actually ran it, the backs had some good gains. Gore got stuffed a couple times, but had runs for 8 yards and 9 yards, and two other successful carries in short yardage. Robinson had a nice pop for 7. And then when the power stuff was used, it worked. Just not enough opportunities. More on that in coaching. B-, not great, but promising Passing game: Let me start with Andre Johnson, as he's gotten some criticism for only catching two of ten targets. Most of his targets, including the two point conversion attempt (which he probably still could have caught), were off the mark. He and Luck aren't quite synced up yet, especially against aggressive corners, but it wasn't his poor play. Moncrief needs some polish with footwork (the sideline play that got reversed, he has to get both feet down when he's that close to the boundary), but the ability is obvious. I hope he figures out that no one can stop him if he uses his size and hands properly. Hilton was eating up the Bills, despite tough corner play and some uncalled PI, then he got hurt. Dorsett's work came against some off coverage, but he still shows good movement and ball skills (unless it's a punt). The TEs were a footnote, mostly, which is strange when we throw it 49 times. Although Allen did get 6 targets, and the one big gain was wiped out by a penalty, which kind of derailed what looked like a good start offensively. The backs got a few looks, but Gore's big screen opportunity didn't get converted because of an errant throw. Varga looks good in the open field. No drops all game. C+, hard to grade this when the QB didn't play well OL / blocking: Not bad against a really good defensive front. The OL gave up 9 total pressures on 53 dropbacks, which is really good. Faced 23 blitzes, and only 14 total pressures. Gore missed one pass block, and Varga missed two. Allen and Doyle both missed a run block. Not a perfect game, and the interior did get pushed back, but the edges were solid almost every play. And this after everyone was melting down about Mewhort in the preseason. The Bills even went after Mewhort with Mario Williams the majority of the game, and it didn't matter. Locked down on the right side, and AC was pretty much perfect himself. Pass protection was more than adequate. We can counter some of that interior push with play calling, and that wasn't very good (more in coaching). The run blocking was adequate, there were some mistakes and missed blocks, but there was a lot of positive, and we have a stable of backs who can get through a small crease and gain positive yardage. Maybe we should give the line the chance to get something going, even against a tough defensive front. They looked capable on Sunday. B, mostly kept the QB clean and gave him a pocket, and there was room to run; docked half a grade for the early penalties Defense, C-: 55 plays, 342 yards, 15 first downs (7 passing, 7 rushing, 1 from penalty), 5/13 on third down, 1/1 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 27 points; pretty good early, and some critical stops late in the game, but lots in between was maddeningly bad Defensive front: Another tough grade. Let me start with the off ball linebackers, who were pretty bad against the run. Jackson flat missed several tackles, seeming to be more excited by the prospect of diving at the ground near the ball carrier than actually trying to get in the way and make a play. Freeman was almost never where he was supposed to be. Nate Irving's one snap was the best ILB play of the day, where he singlehandedly almost kept the back out of the end zone on the goal line. Both Freeman and Jackson had some effective blitzes, but both played pretty poorly overall. The run fits from the DL and edge players were really good most of the game. These linemen got penetration and disrupted a lot of plays right up front, and that's a welcome change from last year. We just have to finish. Williams' TD and Taylor's scramble aside, and Taylor's kneels aside, they had 31 rushes for 94 yards. Shady was shut down all game. Trent Cole was mostly good, but had a couple plays where he lost the edge completely. I feel like the pass rush held back so as to contain the QB, and that worked 4 out of 5 times; the one big play for 31 yards ruined a pretty good effort. We actually pressured him on half of his dropbacks, but he was never really under any duress. C, not a lot of pass rush, and the tackling was poor on enough plays to allow them some big gains Pass defense: Again I'll start with the ILBs, and they again were bad in coverage. The numbers don't quite show it, but both were zoned up across the middle and just failed to stay in good position. So technically, the catches and yards against aren't credited to them, but they should be. And Butler... started off blowing a switch with Davis, and then got smoked by Harvin (which happens, but still), and then gave up 15 more yards to Robert Woods. Save us, Toler and Smith, please. We struggled on swing passes, too, which Taylor was remarkably precise on, throwing them upfield instead of just in the flat, and then the backs could work the sidelines. Newsome got away with a face guard on one of them, maybe the only one we stopped all game. Vontae was great. Let's clone him, because nobody else could cover on Sunday. D, 10.3 yards/attempt for Tyrod Taylor Special teams: Phillip Dorsett... You would think after he got away with the first muff, he'd be ready to secure everything else. Nope. Probably killed a comeback. And Moncrief, tripping over his own shadow. (Comic relief: http://wric.com/2015/09/14/viral-video-shows-toddler-scared-of-her-own-shadow/)Make Varga the kickoff returner, but give Dorsett another shot at the punt job. McAfee punted well, but I think he left some yards out there, if I'm nitpicking. AV's kick was tough, 52 yards, maybe influenced by the wind... oh well. Poor special teams play left the offense in terrible field position all game long. Werner with a nice stick on a punt. D+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, D: Will the real Offensive Coordinator please stand up? (We're gonna have a problem here.) Maybe we're getting into that old familiar territory where it's hard to tell who's really in charge of the offensive play calling. I'd like it if we didn't let that happen, especially on something as simple as pass:run ratio. Nineteen straight pass plays, starting on the first possession in a 0-0 game, with basically zero effectiveness. By the end of it, Luck had been sacked once, picked once, and the score was 10-0. The overall ratio is influenced by the score in the second half, but this started right away. And Gore's first two carries went for 8 yards, and then 3 yards on 2nd and 2. I don't really like the 4th year QB getting thrown under the bus for this, either, but regardless, you just cannot let this happen, especially in the first game of the season. I doubt it happens again. F I have a couple beefs with the defensive coaching. First, let's get some clarity on who is supposed to cover the middle of the field, where offenses have the most success against us. Second, let's not telegraph our blitzes and show the young QB who the hot receiver should be. But really, the defensive failures were more execution than coaching. C Game management gets away from you when it's 24-0 early in the third. And maybe that's because the tempo got away from you in the first. There were several missed rally moments in the first half, but again, most of the failures in this game were on the players. I'd like to see Pagano inject himself early and get some things straightened out before it's 24-0. Timeouts and 2 points and stuff were all run of the mill. C- No game ball in a loss, but Honorable Mention to Vontae Davis for a great game. I dubbed Vontae "The Eraser" last year, and now he's going to shadow #1's all game??? Sorry, Sammy Watkins. Vontae says you don't eat. Next up, home opener, MNF, against a Jets team that probably exceeded everyone's expectations (although it was the Browns...) Another primetime game after a poor Week 1 performance. Let's turn it around right away this time. GO COLTS!!!
  10. Shut up. I'm sure we're all very well past it, but just in case anyone is interested, grades from the Bengals game. Somewhat abridged version. Offense: B+ QB: Pagano said this might have been Luck's best game. That's hard to quantify, but I'm inclined to agree, mostly because he did the right thing virtually all game long. He didn't press, ran when he needed to, took deep shots when they were there (and was betrayed by some drops; according to PFF, he'd have completed 93% of his throws without drops), checked it down, took care of the ball, yet still made plays to every level of the defense. He was pretty much unstoppable. If not for the drops and penalties, this would have been a 4-5 TD affair, somewhere close to 500 yards. A+ Backs / TEs / Receivers: So, there were the drops. We already know. And the fumbles. Boom has to figure that out or get benched. And Moncrief's penalty. All that marred what have been a really good game. Guys got open to every level of the defense, and the Bengals couldn't do anything about it. Then the run game, Boom and Tipton did a pretty good job getting to the second level, running through arm tackles, finishing plays. They got around the edge a couple times, also. TEs didn't get used too much in the passing game, but made plays when the ball did come their way; Fleener had a contested drop. Nicks was good again. Hopefully he can keep producing, even at this level. C+ Blocking: So we've praised the line, and they deserve credit, but there were still some issues. During the season, Luck was pressured on 36% of his dropbacks, and in this game, he was pressured on 39% of his dropbacks. Even his time in the pocket wasn't dramatically different, save for a few plays where the line did a great job. Two primary differences were 1) Luck was very decisive with the ball, and navigated the pocket really well; 2) there were only a couple of plays where the pressure broke through immediately. Mostly, the line gave him the time he needed, and he only needed the time the line gave him. Wish that would happen more often. That all resulted in fewer hits and significant pressures. That's a good thing. The run blocking was also adequate, with some good plays, but plenty of head scratching plays as well. What I really liked was the screen blocking, from linemen and WRs out in space. We spent all year sucking at screens, and now it looks like we have a new weapon in the repertoire. B Offensive coaching: Very good gameplan, attacking the Bengals weaknesses, giving Luck the green light to make plays, etc. I especially appreciated the pay-off of the screen play practice that the team got in the last two regular season games. They must have run a dozen screens in the Dallas game alone, and now all of a sudden, screen plays work. It's about time. A Defense: B+ Defensive front: Good job controlling the run. Aside from the reverse and Dalton's scrambles, they had 53 yards on 16 carries. There was mostly a solid wall in front of their backs, with a couple carries getting out for bigger gains. I'll take it. Pass rush wasn't special. We lost contain on Dalton a few times, and overall, he only faced pressure on 25% of his dropbacks. The 3 sacks are decent, but the rush went long stretches without being a factor. Freeman was excellent late in the game, but the primary pass rushers were mostly shut out. B- Pass defense: Smothering. It was checkdown city, even on third down. Dalton was 0/5 on passes that traveled more than 20 yards downfield through the air, 1/4 on passes more than 10 yards downfield. They knocked down 8 passes, including the flea-flicker. Might have gotten away with a PI on one of the deep throws, but Adams was trying to track the ball. Freeman gave up some catches, but did a good job getting stops short of the first down, including one where he had to spy Dalton and then chase the TE out almost to the boundary. The tests definitely get bigger than this, but bottom line is that the guys did the job they were assigned to do. A Defensive coaching: If anyone had it easy, it was Manusky. He was able to call a more aggressive game than he would have if AJ Green had played, but he still keyed in exactly on what the Bengals wanted to do, and kept them one dimensional. Dalton has a read-option game, but we kept speed on the field (Butler played more snaps than Werner, for instance), and kept an eye on Dalton in an effort to keep him in the pocket. B+ Special teams: AV got back on the horse (I still feel bad for him...) He even earned a drug test with a powerful 53 yarder that probably had an extra 5 yards on it. Teams had to cover 4 kickoffs because Jones kept bringing the ball out from 8-9 yards deep, but coverage was good. Their average start was the 21 yard line. Punting was typical, but one of two returns went for 19 yards, which isn't good. Return game was decent; Cribbs got some good yardage a couple of times. B+ Game management: Not much to grade here. All decisions were pretty obvious. Team was well prepared. I like that they basically shelved Boom after the second fumble. B+ Next up: Denver, again. Peyton Manning, again. 'Nuff said. GO COLTS!!!
  11. That's what most of us acted like Sunday night. http://forums.colts.com/topic/33832-grades-week-15-vs-texans/?hl=grades Defense, F: 62 plays, 377 yards, 25 first downs (15 passing, 8 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/10 on third down, 3/4 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 42 points; an unmitigated disaster Defensive front: The one sort of bright spot (or maybe just not completely awful spot) was the run defense. By raw numbers, it was outstanding. The best running game in the league, the best offensive line in the league, and their backs averaged 2.7 yards/carry. Several stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. The problem is we didn’t get those stops in short yardage situations, and there were a few 6-8 yard carries that led to first downs and easy third down conversions, but most of those were backs scooting through tiny alleyways and getting around linemen who were diving at their feet. Overall, the run defense put in a strong effort and deserves credit. All the linemen were disruptive and got penetration, and the LBers did a good job staying square, shedding blocks, and getting the backs to the ground. The pass rush doesn’t deserve that kind of praise. The Cowboys knew exactly where they wanted to go with the ball and got it out with no hesitation, and used some max protect to slow us down, and the guys struggled to hold up on the back end. The blitzes were ineffective, which has been a recurring theme against good QBs this year. And the couple times we did get some pressure on Romo, he scooted out of there and ran for big yardage. C-, pass rush really drags this down, because the run defense did a better than decent job Pass defense: Greg Toler got destroyed. No groin injury to blame for this one. Came over to Davis’ side and got beat (not bad coverage, just can’t stop Dez Bryant, who did his very best Dez Bryant impression most of the day); that one got waved off because of a procedural penalty, but he got beat on a pick play on the other side on the very next play. Then the next possession, he got called for PI and still gave up the TD to Dez (who I think got away with pulling Toler down by the pads/hair). Then later in the game, he got beat over the top on a pass from Brandon Weeden; he just kind of ran himself out of balance and got burned. That’s enough for a bad grade for the whole unit, but everyone else did their part, also. Davis gave up money on both of his targets, safeties and backers struggled to cover slot receivers and TEs, and in general, the middle of the field was just the Cowboys’ playground. We offered little to no resistance. There were a couple of plays where the defender was close and the receiver just made a great play, and in the second half Brown had a near pick, but most of it was just bad coverage. F, 19/21, 250 yards, 5 TDs, no INTs, one pass defensed. Yes, that’s an F. Offense, D+: 56 plays, 277 yards, 17 first downs (12 passing, 0 rushing, 5 from penalty), 5/13 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 1/2 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 7 points (in the depths of garbage time, to escape the shutout); never seriously threatened the Cowboys defense QB: Luck wasn’t sharp, but I don’t think he played poorly. The first pick was costly; don’t turn the ball over at the end of the half when you’re in scoring range. But Fleener was supposed to be at the back of the end zone, and wasn’t. Still a bad throw into double coverage, when he could have thrown it out the back of the end zone if necessary. Wasn’t even really under pressure. The second pick was batted at the line. And there were at least four drops that derailed chances at gaining momentum, and a couple of uncalled PI/defensive holding calls that we didn’t get (yes, Phil Simms, that should have been PI). My beef with Luck was his refusal to escape the pass rush. There were a couple times he could have stepped up through the pocket and picked up yardage, or scrambled and made a play out of the pocket, and he wouldn’t do it. He needs to overclock his CPU or something and speed things up, because he’s not going to have all day to figure out where to go with the ball. Use those legs. You look at the stats and he had a terrible game, but realistically, I don’t think it was that awful. Hasselbeck did okay, got rid of the ball quickly, completed passes, avoided pressure, but didn’t make any plays. Pat’s throw was great. ;) C-, done in by drops and an overly reserved gameplan Back / receivers / tight ends, D-: Running game: Tried from the start, and it wasn’t happening. And the first two carries were Boom, so it’s not Richardson dragging down the run game. I’m not gonna waste anymore words on this, I’ll just post the statline: 10 carries, 1 yard. F Passing game: Receivers made some tough grabs, got a little bit of separation, worked the zones, etc. Nothing vertical without Hilton, and Moncrief had a deep target but was well covered. Nicks was tough, did a nice job with 11 targets, but several were screens. At least the screens were productive; we’ve struggled even completing screen plays at times this season. Fleener made some plays, but wasn’t particularly threatening. The backs did a nice job out of the backfield, Boom made some guys miss and picked up good yardage after the catch, and Tipton had the TD on the old Bradshaw play (I’m still hurt that he won’t break the record…) Allen, I don’t think it really needs to be said, but he was bad with the drops, and then got hurt. He said himself that he’s upset he didn’t get a chance to redeem himself, but the answer is just to make the plays in the first place. Oh well, he’ll bounce back once he gets healthy. C-, only 5 passes traveled more than 20 yards down the field, and none of them were complete OL / blocking: Holmes with the start! Not a savior, clearly, but he had a decent game. Got pushed back some in pass protection, and had a penalty, but in 52 pass pro snaps he was mostly positive. Nixon was really bad in pass pro, not adjusting well to playing tackle. Only 10 total pressures on 52 snaps by the line, but it seemed like the pocket crunched more often than that, speeding up the play a little bit. We also threw short a lot, so it was more like 10 pressures on 30 snaps. The entire line could have been more assertive in the run game. There were some draws where they failed to control the defenders, and allowed lanes to close up too quickly. The first play was botched, most likely because Louis missed his assignment and hung Holmes out to dry. There wasn’t a lot of bad blocking by the unit, but a lot of plays had one guy just barely get beat, which ruined the entire thing. C-, generally sloppy Special teams: Dewey McDonald, goat of the game. Gotta make that catch. McAfee had some nice kicks, but a couple were too nice, giving up some overly interesting returns. And one was plain ugly, but I think he got distracted by the jumbotron. AV could have had the day off. Punt coverage wasn’t great, but nothing got out. Nothing to talk about in the return game. After Cribbs spiced things up earlier, he’s been pretty quiet. Hopefully he does something in the playoffs. C Coaching / playcalling / game management, C-: Defensively, we got abused. I think the gameplan was fine, Manusky was obviously pre-occupied with the run, and that worked. But we offered zero resistance against the pass, with no adjustments to the crossing routes and pick plays that have hurt us all season. The blitzes seemed ill-timed, but that’s probably just because they didn’t work. Definitely more about poor coverage and execution, but he’s got to come up with something to keep us from getting destroyed in the middle of the field. And it’s troubling that we can’t get stops in the red zone. There’s got to be a way to tighten up down there. C- Offensively, Pep seemed to call an anemic game. Really reserved, not trying to get the ball down the field, lots of short stuff, lots of screens, tried to start with the run… Some of that has to go on Luck at this point, he should be able to adjust at the line so we’re not running into the strength of the defense, but that goes to playcalling and preparation. If there’s any indication that the Colts weren’t too concerned with the outcome of this game, it’s the way the offense was called. Two weeks ago, we’d have attacked their secondary voraciously. This was not the Colts offense that we’ve come to know, and I think that’s by design. INC Game management was fine. I have no problem with the fake punt call. I know the game situation says you take the fakes off the table, but it was wide open. Also, I don’t think the outcome of the game was a huge factor in some of the coaching decisions. The 4th down situations made sense as well, in that context. And getting Luck out of the game early was a no-brainer. I find it interesting that Kerr and Hughes continue to rotate from week to week. Only issue is that I don't like the decision to treat this like a scout game, which they did to an extent. I don't think there was a serious effort to put together a winning gameplan, and I knock Pagano for that. D+ Sarcastic game ball: Bill Leavy, every time the Colts got something going in the first half, out came a flag. Good job, Bill! Way to stay relevant. Next up, road vs. Titans. Chance to get to 11 wins for the third year in a row, and to go 6-0 in the division for the second straight season. More importantly, this team needs to get the car pointed in the right direction again. GO COLTS!!!
  12. Week 14 grades Defense, B: 67 plays, 289 yards, 14 first downs (7 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/16 on third down, 0/3 on fourth down, 0 red zone visits, 2 turnovers, 3 points; strong performance, never let Houston threaten the end zone Defensive front: Results were mixed, but mostly positive. There were some weak contains and the tackles got pushed back on some double teams, leading to some big gains for Foster (he always finds a way to hurt our defense), and because both of their backs run hard, there were a lot of 4-6 yarders. But the front mostly flowed well to the ball, and despite some weak tackling, generally held their gains in check. Freeman got turned around on some run plays and wasn't very aware on Fitzgerald's scrambles, but Jackson came downhill pretty well. Landry showed up in run support, too. A decent performance which led to the Texans facing 3rd and long several times. I think Werner was excellent in run defense all game, and because he was so active overall, he got a gift sack and a fumble recovery. Pass rush was spotty, with some edge pressure, but not consistently. Blitzes got ramped up once Savage came in, and they worked well, but there weren't a lot of passing opportunities overall. The linemen got some nice push and penetration, including Kerr, who finally got back on the field. B-, lacked physicality, but still got the job done Pass defense: Welcome back, Vontae, and nice job putting the game away, but he got outworked on a couple plays. Sergio bailed him out on one, and had a strong game overall, even though his defensive snaps have been reduced. Freeman was solid, as were the other LBs, but Houston didn't really attack the middle of the defense. Everyone was good in the flats. Toler was picked on, and gave up almost half the passing yards, as he was late to react on some targets that came his way. B, nothing to write home about against subpar QBing, but no major flaws, either Offense, C+: 64 plays, 278 yards, 20 first downs (12 passing, 5 rushing, 3 from penalty), 2/12 on third down, 1/2 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 17 points (one defensive score allowed); cut the turnovers and defensive scores in half from last week, but had a season low in yards and points, and bombed on third down QB: Got the pick out of the way nice and early. No pressure, just a bad read between him and Fleener, and he didn't have what he thought he did. Picked it up after that, getting the TD on the board, and doing just enough to get the offense moving. Both TD passes were excellent QBing, with perfectly placed and timed passes. Almost got a lucky third TD, but the penalty nullified it (and there was some question about whether Moncrief got under the ball). I love seeing him hurt defenses with his legs, which lessened some pressure to start that final drive. Couldn't quite make it happen on third down, either. C+, let's tune this puppy up these next two weeks Backs / receivers / tight ends, B: Running game: Nice production, although not enough opportunities again. Boom ran hard, especially at the end of the game when he got a chance to work into a rhythm. Richardson was decent, if not spectacular. Still need to have more than 12 carries going into the 4th quarter. The final drive was excellent, up until the last two plays. B Passing game: Only 18 receptions, but I thought guys got open well. Hilton was getting going, then other guys started getting open. Fleener missed a chance early, but was double covered and getting hit as the ball got there. The deep shot to Moncrief was just missed, but I thought he could have taken a better angle to get under the ball. Reggie sort of bounced back; he was productive, at least. And Nicks had a couple nice catches, including the tough man TD. If Hilton and/or Reggie gets decreased time coming up, he might be able to step in and produce. Richardson got set up poorly on the screen (if that's our idea of a screen play), but then had the 16 yard gain later in the game. B-, some missed connections, but made some nice plays OL / blocking: For all the craziness leading up to the game, and the weird personnel decision, the line was decent in pass pro. Not great, still gave up some pressures and hits, and there was some sloppy engagement on some stunts. Then, JJ Watt is his own stunt when he wants to be, and ate Cherilus up for a sack. Double teams were frequent, minimizing the damage, and Luck got out and ran a few times, but Louis was okay at RG. Run blocking was mostly positive, and there were some good lines at times. Other times it got a little tight, but the guards fought hard in the run game. Harrison had his best game run blocking in a while. None of the TEs were good run blocking; Allen missing the block on the QB keeper doomed what probably would have been a game-clinching TD, which is the opposite of what you'd expect. Richardson did a good job in pass pro. C+, still too many pressures, but they did just enough to keep Watt from taking over the game Special teams: AV continues his streak, and has a strong chance at his first perfect season. McAfee bounced back from a rough game, and seemed to put the ball exactly where it needed to be every time he kicked it. Maybe could have put a little more on some of those punts, but the coverage was smothering, with the longest punt return going for just 4 yards. And the work on the 4th down fake was right on, nice job by Andrew Jackson. Cribbs was decent returning, no mistakes for a change. B+Coaching / playcalling / game management, B-: Still searching for balance on offense, but at least left a mark at the end of the game. I liked the QB keeper call, it's too bad the point man didn't get the edge sealed. Some nice route combos to work the Texans secondary, also. There's a breakdown on Colts.com of Nicks' TD, which shows a really solid play design. B- Defense caught a little bit of a break, but Manusky continues to use the blitz well. Good coverage makes it easier for him to do so. He'll have a nice challenge this week. B+ Only game management complaint tracks back to the offensive gameplan, which is about establishing the run (or at least trying to). We were never behind by more than 7 points, but only had 12 carries going into the 4th quarter. Would be nice if Chuck grabbed Pep and asked him to pound it a little more, and I bet he had something to say about the approach on the last drive. Good challenge in the first quarter. B- Game ball: Boom Herron, when we asked him to perform, he ran the ball five times in a row, getting stronger with each carry: 6 yards, 6 yards, 7 yards, 8 yards, 8 yards... then finally had to come out of the game, but only after running through the teeth of the Texans defense for more than half of his rushing total, carrying defenders on his back, and carrying the team into the red zone for an important score. Not a spectacular game overall, but a really strong finish. Next up, on the road to take on the suddenly hot Cowboys, who are averaging 39.5 points in their last two games. They haven't played a good defense since they lost to the Cardinals six weeks ago. Can the Colts perform like a good defense this week? A win would be a meaningful victory against a strong opponent for the first time since Week 5 vs the Ravens, and the first time all season on the road, and against a team that is fighting for a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Would also be the Colts first win against the Cowboys since 2002. The win has little bearing on standings, but the team needs to show well in a game like this in late December. GO COLTS!!!
  13. Week 13 grades Offense, C+: 76 plays, 362 yards, 23 first downs (14 passing, 6 rushing, 3 from penalty), 5/16 on third down, 1/1 on 4th down, 2/3 in the red zone, 4 turnovers, 25 points (two defensive scores allowed); why all the turnovers and dropped passes? WHY??? QB: This guy is driving me crazy. Stop trying to avoid sacks at the last minute, please! And the pick-six was just a huge missed read that wound up being very costly. The other pick was another slightly off pass, and the worst happens. Ugh. He also missed a few other throws, and was just super slow to get into any kind of rhythm. He didn't get a lot of help from his receivers, of course, so it wasn't all his fault, but he didn't do his best work either. Then he decided to play, and the Browns were in trouble. He started running, and six plays later, he was putting a juke move on a linebacker while he barreled into the end zone. It wasn't all smooth sailing from that point, but he was ready to play, and despite some mistakes, did just enough to put the game away. C, still too many drastic mistakes, but just enough playmaking Backs / receivers / tight ends, C+: Running game: No run game. Luck once again led the team in rushing. The backs both did a decent job in the few chances they got, but they weren't given enough opportunities. Luck scrambled well, mostly. Richardson ran hard. Boom did a GREAT job on the 4th down run. However, he didn't do a good job on the previous run. He left his feet trying to get into the end zone, rather than staying low and plowing ahead for the short yard we needed. Made up for it with the fancy spin move. And when the game was on the line, he was on the field, despite his previous fumble issues. He also out-touched Richardson for the third straight week. B Passing game: Sooo, I've seen them credited with 6 drops, and I think there was more like 9. Good coverage by the Browns, and they knocked some passes out, but the receivers caused some serious problems. Nicks struggled to reach some passes, Hilton and Moncrief each had drops, and then, Reggie... He's obviously not healthy, and it sucks. He said he felt like he was throwing the game. I hate it. He didn't play well. He was able to get open or work his way to the ball regularly, no matter who was covering him, but he couldn't complete any plays. Allen didn't produce statistically, but he did make a big difference, especially drawing the PI down the field on the final drive. Fleener made some tough catches. C-, too many drops, not enough separation OL / blocking: Quite a few pressures from a line that's being juggled because of injuries, but the pressures didn't really come from the replacements. Shipley gave up a couple, but he and Holmes both played well. Holmes, especially. Reitz can't stay on the field, which is sad, because he's a strong performer at guard. Castonzo and Mewhort were a little sloppy. The run blocking was sufficient, with some nice combo blocks and some nice push at times, but they weren't overpowering at all. And while Mewhort was sloppy in pass protection, he got after it in the run game, locking onto guys and moving them around. There were a couple of counter blocks that were really nice. I think the run game could have gotten going, but the three-and-outs and penalties and the eventual two score deficit made the run game almost a non-factor. C+, a lot of pressures and penalties Defense, B: 63 plays, 248 yards, 14 first downs (7 passing, 6 rushing, 1 from penalty), 4/15 on third down, 1/2 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 10 points; kept their struggling offense from doing too much of anything Defensive front: Nicely contained the run, aside from a couple of longer carries, but nothing too troubling overall. Everyone tackled better than they have been recently, and the defensive linemen were disruptive against the run. I'm liking the rotation with Chapman, Hughes and Jones in the middle, even though Hughes isn't really a nose tackle. He still inserts himself into the action. The pass rush wasn't consistent, but there were a few big rushes that disrupted the timing on their passes, most of which were blitzes. The Browns wanted to run, though, and stuck with it for some production, including the TD, where Jones was completely washed out of the play, and none of the linebackers were involved, leaving Mike Adams hanging out to dry. Mostly good stuff from the defensive front, though. B, just need more pass rush Pass defense: Surprisingly good game, without our shutdown corner. Stayed close to receivers, the corners got some separations and tackled well, and so did the LBs. Freeman bounced back nicely in coverage, and while he gave up some catches to Cameron, he was pretty much always close to him when the ball got there, just done in by one really nice bucket throw, and another low one that was handled nicely by the receiver. Adams' interception was terrific. Everybody thought Gordy would get torched, and he was way better than I expected, finally getting the pick to seal the game. Toler got beat a couple of times by Gordon, but Hoyer missed a couple of throws, and I thought Toler stayed on his man nicely on all but two or three plays. It will be nice to get Vontae back, whenever that happens, but if we keep using these triangle coverages to lessen the man-to-man load of the corners and safeties, we'll survive. B, maybe Hoyer's bad play made them look better, but they still made the plays Special teams: McAfee had a bad game, wasn't good kicking or punting, and overcompensated with some punts that were too long, leaving his coverage guys out to dry. Coverage wasn't good itself, neither was the return game, with Cribbs not getting close to breaking one open. He also got ate up on some punts that bounced and rolled exactly how the Browns needed. I thought they were borderline decisions, but they all seemed to work out in Cleveland's favor. AV was money. The Boomstick seemed to struggle going to the right, but Vinatieri lined up and drilled a 51 yarder, with no doubt. He's on fire. C+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, B+: Nearly 4:1 in favor of called pass plays, which is waaay too high. Hard to tell how much control Luck has at the line of scrimmage, and we opened up with two running plays in a row, so it's not like the objective coming in was to throw the ball every down. But that's almost what we did. Also, our screen plays are still terrible. And someone has to get Luck to stop fumbling the ball. B- Nice defensive gameplan. Made up for the loss of Davis with some zone coverages that were better designed and much better executed than in the Steelers game. Blitzed a ton against the run and the pass, and it worked. A I didn't like the decision to go for two, just because there was a heck of a lot of time left on the clock, and a lot of possessions to come. I thought the score would work itself out, and if you did need two, you could try later. I do like the more progressive attitude of giving your offense a chance to make plays, but I didn't think it was needed, yet. I also liked the challenge decisions at the end of the game, along with the timeout on third down. Those all seemed to be handled perfectly. B Game ball: TY Hilton, first two TD game of the year, with one of them putting the game away. Struggled through the first half, but showed up when we needed him most. Big time player. Next up, home finale, hosting the Texans. This one is for the division. GO COLTS!!!
  14. Another late entry... Week 12 grades Offense, A-: 49 plays, 487 yards, 19 first downs (14 passing, 4 rushing, 1 from penalty), 5/8 on third down, 1/1 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 42 points; could have been 63 points with the way the offense was playing QB: The two turnovers were the only negative spots, and one wasn't really his fault. The rest of the game, he destroyed Washington, finding open receivers throughout the defense, but especially deep. And one was dropped. It's not often that an offense scores 6 TDs with only one red zone possession, but Luck's deep ball made the red zone unnecessary. Great game. A, flat out dominant, while RGIII began his life as a backup Backs / receivers / tight ends, B+: Running game: Tale of two RBs. Herron was decisive and explosive, with the huge TD. Richardson got shut down every time he touched the ball. If Boom stops fumbling, he'll wind up with a bigger share of the backfield. B, the good far outweighed the bad, but like Sam Cooke said: "A change is gonna come." Passing game: Uncoverable. And paced by the secondary guys. Nicks and Reggie weren't and usually aren't a big part of the picture, and they focused on taking away Hilton, but Fleener and Moncrief stepped up and filled the void. Moncrief had the incredible hustle on the Fleener TD also. This is becoming a "pick your poison" passing attack. And Allen is coming back. B+, some say they're still running... OL / blocking: Cherilus got beat on the opening play, and that wasn't good. He gave up some other pressures also, but I thought the rest of the line played well. As many expected, moving Reitz inside to guard makes a huge difference. As long as he's healthy, he should stay there. Castonzo was a rock on the other side, and he continues to team well with Mewhort. There were a couple of inside pressures, but they were handled well. Harrison had his weekly snap mistake. The run game wasn't blocked as well, but was good enough. Only 16 traditional run plays, and one sweep, so not a lot of opportunities. But the blocking on Boom's TD was excellent. It doesn't get better, really. B Defense, B: 74 plays, 425 yards, 24 first downs (15 passing, 4 rushing, 5 from penalty), 5/15 on third down, 0/2 on fourth down, 2/5 in the red zone, 1 turnover, 27 points (scored a TD, making it a net +20); shut them down in the first half, got a little sloppy after that, but this defense is still 2nd in the league on 3rd down Defensive front: Another strong performance up front. Washington's offensive line isn't particularly formidable, but the defense still did a good job containing the run, with only a couple of exceptions. The read option defense got caught off guard a couple of times, but the ILB (Freeman) has to recognize quickly and then scrape over, and he didn't. The pass rush was excellent, with 6 big sacks and creating the defensive TD, and a ton of pressures otherwise. Those pressures came from everyone, everywhere, all game long. The tackling and pursuit was lacking at times. B+, still very reliant on the blitz Pass defense: Sucks to lose Davis. He was doing this thing, and for whatever reason, they were targeting his man like he's not a shutdown corner. The other corners didn't hold up as well, especially down the stretch. All the safeties covered well. The linebackers, not so much. Newsome, Freeman, Jackson, all got torched for big plays. C+, almost 400 yards and 65% completions, to Colt McCoy? Special teams: Kickoffs and punts were great, as we've come to expect from Pat. Coverage was excellent also, which is a good pairing. Cribbs tackle was nice, and he's really making a difference in no time, even in coverage. One of these days, he'll have a big return that isn't nullified by a penalty, and that's the only negative from special teams. B+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, A: The transitions to Moncrief and Herron are well under way, and it's adding some extra pep to the offense. It would be nice if we could block screens better. Pep unlocked a cheat code in this one, and we had big plays for scores all game. The game glitched to make up for it, with Fleener's silly drop. Found a good mix on the offensive line, also. A Kept the opponent reeling up front with good blitzes, and the LB and safety rotations are looking good. Betrayed only by poor coverage and sloppy tackling. Good play call on the early 4th down. B+ Game management had an off day. Pagano joked that he tried to get Pep to slow down with the scoring to protect the defense. That kind of game. And at halftime, I felt like the score should have been 35-0. The offense had it going by then, and put the game away in the third. There's your halftime adjustments. B+ Game ball: Andrew Luck, rocked the house, finished up his Player of the Month campaign in front of RGIII, set a career high for TD passes... only one who could stop him was his long-haired Bro. Next up, hit the road against the Manziels Browns, and it will be cold out there, might be wet. We have four former Browns, including one who is itching to have a good game. Colts are -4 as of right now, but I wonder who Vegas thinks is more likely to earn a Dawg Pound leap, Richardson or Cribbs... GO COLTS!!!
  15. Sloppy start, still a decisive victory. I'll take it. Week 11 grades Offense, C+: 72 plays, 389 yards, 24 first downs (9 passing, 12 rushing, 3 from penalty), 9/17 on third down, 1/5 in the red zone(!), 3 turnovers, 23 points; should have had way more production, if not for sloppy play and mistakes QB: For a QB under a lot of pressure, he made a lot of plays. Also made some mistakes, obviously, including one of the "mental lapses" that the staff supposedly was working on during the bye. Those are completely on him at this point, not the line, not the coaches, just Luck making a silly mistake. And the protection wasn't good, either, but on 2 of the first 3 sacks, he missed a checkdown and a hot receiver who were both wide open. They only blitzed 8 times, and Luck struggled to beat it. There are times where the QB can beat pressure before it has a chance, and he has to do better at that. Of course, the good outweighed the bad. As the game went on, he started gashing the Jags with his legs, which I looove to see. I said a couple weeks ago that he's not as quick as some of the other mobile QBs, but he looked plenty quick on some of those scrambles, and that just puts a ton of pressure on the defense. He also picked their secondary apart, particularly on a perfect out to Fleener, a great deep corner to Hilton through zone coverage (the perfect decision, and a perfect throw), and eventually the TD to Hilton. It's a shame the 300+ streak had to come to an end. If not for the mistakes, this would have been another 400+ yard game, and another 44 point outburst. B, keep sanding down those rough edges Backs / receivers / tight ends, B: Running game: Primary backs got 25 carries, plus 2 end arounds for WRs. Nice mix, and it worked effectively. In a game where people are beating up on the offensive line, the backs actually ran well and averaged over 4 yards/carry. Boom showed nice burst and finishing ability, including some broken tackles, but he put the ball on the ground, twice (the second wasn't all his fault). He also missed a couple of lanes. Richardson wasn't as impressive, but had a couple of nice runs, and maybe earned some more goal line carries with the TD run. B, nice production, could have been even better Passing game: Eligible receivers did a solid job of getting open, working zones, attacking the ball, and finishing plays. Fleener had a "drop" on a pass thrown slightly behind him, but was mostly effective as the lead TE. Nicks only got one target on 17 pass plays, compared to Moncrief with 5 targets (4 completions and a penalty) on 17 pass plays, plus a carry, so the transition is well under way. Nicks can still be a situational weapon, though. Hilton drew a lot of attention, and due to some excellent QBing and route running, he still got open and made plays. People will eventually stop talking about what Hilton can't do, because everything on the list is being crossed off. And then, there was Reggie. I don't know what the problem was, because he got open and got behind the defense a couple of times, but then seemed to struggle to finish the route and make the catch. There were two plays in particularly that would have been big gains, maybe even a long TD, but he came up a half step short. And they weren't overthrows. I don't know what that's about, but he hasn't been the same since the Bengals game. The backs caught the ball well, and probably should have gotten another 3 or 4 targets to beat some pressure. B+, playmakers are emerging, and if the mistakes up front get cleaned up, look out OL / blocking: I've pointed out that I think Luck has to do a better job of beating pressure, and I think a couple of sacks were his fault, but the line still gave up too much pressure. This has popped up a couple times this year, where the pressure comes in waves for a while. They seemed to settle down in the second half, but Reitz and Thornton were sloppy on the right side. AC got beat for a sack and a couple more pressures (his man actually got 2 sacks, but the first one was after about 4 seconds of protection, and Luck missed an open man). Nixon and Shipley played some snaps, and did pretty good. The run blocking was better, but every negative run play seemed to be caused by a missed block by someone. Some poor play designs and/or presnap recognition led to a couple of bad runs, including Herron's second fumble. Still good execution in the run game at times, but more consistency would be really nice. C, plenty of negative play, but eventually got back on track, including some acceptable run blocking Defense, B+: 54 plays, 194 yards, 11 first downs (5 passing, 6 rushing, 0 from penalty), 3/12 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 0/2 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 3 points (gifted by a TO); pretty well shut down a poor offense, as they should Defensive front: Doesn't seem like the same team. Yeah, the Jags aren't a good team, but the poor execution was cleaned up, we faced big sets effectively, got penetration on run plays, and dragged down ball carriers. There were a few missed tackles, which is still concerning, but Gerhart is a strong runner. Guys like Chapman and Jones held up well, while Hughes and RJF did more than that, busting into the backfield several times. Hughes was particularly disruptive, against the run and the pass. RJF missed some chances for TFLs, but knocked down a pass himself. LBs flowed to the ball carrier better, and finished better, though not as well as they should have. Jackson and Freeman were around the ball all game, and I believe Freeman forced a fumble. In general, there was no running the ball this week; Robinson had one good carry, and was shut down the other 13 times he touched the ball. Pass rush was inconsistent, but was able to get home several times, thanks to some blitzes, which will keep happening as long as the coverage holds up. Freeman was slow to get over the top on a scrape/exchange, allowing Bortles to get up the field on a read option. Just poor recognition, but he handled it better the next time. B, a better offense and QB probably has more success, but the front was plenty active and physical, and didn't really give up anything Pass defense: Overall, a really good coverage game. Nothing was open down the field, period. Good game by Purifoy filling in for Toler, and Butler had a strong game. Davis continues to dominate, plain and simple. Gordy isn't good in coverage, unfortunately, and got beat for the only long gain by the Jags by getting smoked off the line for a slant. With Purifoy playing better, Gordy might get nailed to the bench. LBs and safeties were excellent in coverage, also. Walden shut down the flat nicely for a loss. Even Landry played good coverage in a few snaps, but his impact was much greater as a blitzer, getting to the QB both times he went. On passes going further than 10 yards down the field, Bortles was 1/4 for 13 yards. That's strong, against any team. A-, more than half of their passing yards were on the final drive of the game, 86 out of 146 Special teams: We have a returner. He had the huge return that was only called back because of a bone-headed penalty by Gordy. But he still blasted through the Jags coverage for yardage whenever he had a chance. Coverage was excellent, with a downed punt at the 1. McAfee was on point, as always, allowing no kickoff returns, and only 3 yards on 2 punt returns. AV added to his streak. Special teams is on fire right now. A Coaching / playcalling / game management, B: Pep's first half pass plays seemed to focus on vertical separation, which led to some pressure on the QB. Two of those sacks, Luck had a little time, and no one was open. With Hilton drawing double coverage, it would seem like we'd work the underneath and include hot routes more often to take pressure off the line. We eventually made those adjustments. Some screen plays would be nice, too, but we don't seem to run those well. The run:pass ratio was better. B-, struggled to find a rhythm with play calling, but the turnovers didn't help Some games they look absolutely dominant, but against struggling offenses, the defensive coaching kind of takes care of itself. Nicely timed blitzes, which has kind of been Manusky's saving grace this year, and that's made possible by good coverage. The strategy against read option is good, but that won't really be tested again this season (hehehe, Griffin is benched, hehehe). B+ Game management was fine. It's always easy against the Jags. Fixed up the mistakes in the second half. B- Game ball: TY Hilton, not only for the big TD, but in recognition of his child's birth. Congrats, TY, and keep it going. Next up, finally, the Luck vs. Griffin showdown... sike. He's benched. Washington plays better with McCoy, so we'll have to keep up the defensive intensity. They also have a decent pass rush, so our protection will have to be better. GO COLTS!!!
  16. 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)
  17. Week 8 grades Defense, B-: 75 plays, 438 yards, 22 first downs (17 passing, 5 rushing, 0 from penalty (that's a first in a while, isn't it?)), 4/16 on third down, 1/2 on fourth down, 3/3 in the red zone, 1 turnovers, 24 points; that's more like it, aside from the mini-meltdown in the 4th quarter Defensive front: The Giants had a couple of drives where they were able to be productive on the ground, with some Peyton Hillis carries reminding me of the Browns game in 2011 when he pretty much single-handedly beat us. For the most part, though, we shut down the run. Eli had their longest run, believe it or not. Andre Williams was completely ineffective. They don't have any really good backs, but our play up front was strong. The tackling got sloppy for a stretch, with Freeman missing one on the goalline. Pass rush was decent, not really impressive though. Newsome is really good, but most of our pressures and the few QB hits we did get were late in the play. Not a lot of immediate pressure. It seemed to me that they committed some extra attention to Werner, which is encouraging, but they weren't flat out doubling him with any regularity. Push up the middle was more consistent this week. B-, once Jones gets going, this will be our best defensive line in a loooong time Pass defense: There it is. Cancel the search, we found our pass defense. Or did we??? The fourth quarter was a mess, with Beckham continuing to get open. And the big play he made was just poor finish work. Too many guys had a chance to tackle him, and didn't. We have to end plays, otherwise good coverage is pointless. We got our hands on some passes, including Vontae's near pick in the end zone. That's how you defend a fade route. The receiver had no chance at the ball, and we're talking about a receiver who has 4 inches on the DB. Give Vontae his credit, people. They targeted him 11 times, like dummies, and he wouldn't budge. Toler was mostly good, too, aside from the one long play. Sergio had some nice plays also. Linebackers looked a lot better in coverage. Werner looks better and better in space. Gordy and Purifoy didn't do a good job at the end of the game. B, the Giants wound up with a lot of yards, but while the game was actually in doubt, it was mostly "E. Manning, pass incomplete" Offense, B-: 71 plays, 443 yards, 22 first downs (15 passing, 5 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/15 on third down, 2/2 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 40 points; sloppy for a big part of the first half, but clearly in control, and once it clicked there was nothing the Giants could do about it QB: Luck himself said this wasn't his best game. I agree, and that's ironic, given the numbers and the impact he had on this game. He had some misses that make you shake your head, and of course, he waits too long to bail when he has a chance to run (except for the one carry for a first down). A miscommunication with Fleener on what should have been a TD; Fleener takes an outside release with no help over the top, Luck throws the ball to the inside, Fleener never really even sees it. Even the TD to Hilton wasn't a good throw; thankfully Hilton made the play. And then the wild toss that no one should ever try, and everyone knows it. We bang on Dalton for trying to pass the ball waaaaay past the line of scrimmage, but really, Luck's play was just as bad. However, he was getting a ton of pressure for the second week in a row, and he stood in there and continued to find receivers. The TD pass to Reggie exemplifies why you put up with the bad that's scattered here and there. Luck ceiling is virtually unknown, mostly because of his ability to make plays under pressure, and he did that over and over again. Someone asked whether Luck is actually a good QB; the answer is a resounding YES. B, I assume the bye will be spent cleaning up some of the miscues Backs / receivers / tight ends, B+: Running game: When we used it, it worked well. Just didn't use it very much. Bradshaw had some nice rips, including a couple of plays where he broke tackles in the backfield and turned them into big gains. Richardson was pretty steady also. Herron couldn't do anything at the end of the game, but the Giants were selling out to get stops. Backs averaged 4.2 yards/carry, which is acceptable. B Passing game: Our receivers were mostly uncoverable. I thought someone was open pretty much every play. Luck missed some throws, and failed to see some open receivers, including some dumpoffs. And the pressure caused some plays to break down, but their corners were a MASH unit, and their backers couldn't cover our TEs on their best day. It's weird to look at 350 yards and 4 TDs and talk about how much more there could have been, if only... But none of that is on the receivers; they were getting open. Nicks had the drop on the slant, which is annoying, but it was thrown really hard and slightly off topic; he should still catch that, though. I'd like to see more Moncrief after the bye. Fleener also failed to bring in another TD between double coverage, but he had defenders pulling him down. B+ OL / blocking: Pass protection wasn't good. I thought it started out pretty good, and Luck was holding the ball too long. But as we continued to drop back, the protection continued to get worse. Too many pressures, too many blown protections. Ayers was eating up our linemen, Louis in particular, who was only in the game because Thornton decided to enjoy NYC a little too much the night before the game. Harrison also made a lot of mistakes. I can't know for certain who the snap count problem was with, but it appeared that Harrison was the only interior lineman who thought it was a double count. Even Luck's movement looked like he was expecting the ball. Cherilus was way better this week, though he did give up a couple of pressures. The run blocking was better, despite some mistakes, and I think that we should have relied on it more. Didn't bring the game home late in the 4th, which is disappointing. (Side note: Even in a game where Thornton is benched for disciplinary reasons, Holmes -- who Grigson says is working at guard -- can't get a game jersey. Weird...) C+, failures in pass pro had me thinking of Satele and McGlynn Special teams: We let them have one somewhat interesting kick return, but nothing else. Beckham was -3 on his one punt return. We still don't return well, and Whalen is looking more and more overmatched each week. He's sure-handed most of the time, but his return efforts are pretty terrible. He had a decent kickoff return and a decent punt return, but he also had some bad ones. McAfee was excellent, dropping 3 punts inside the 20, and AV was 4/4, including a 48 yarder. Best special teams we've ever had. Don't let us get a return game to go with this offense... A- Coaching / playcalling / game management, B: I don't know what to say about the pass:run ratio in the first half. I understand picking on their banged up secondary and throwing against heavy fronts, but we should still work the run in there more than we did. The play calling did get receivers open, but it also invited relentless pass rush. Good job getting a play in to Luck so quickly before Coughlin could challenge, and not just a dive play, but a TD pass. Nice. And we came out in the second half ready to go, with 3 TDs and a FG on our first four possessions. B- The defense got back to what we have been doing so well with this season, mostly scrapping the zone coverage from last week, and blitzing more effectively. Anything the Giants got was off of pure effort, or lack of effort from our defense. The players were deployed very effectively. B+ I'm torn on the end of game situation. I understand the desire to get the backups some time, but they didn't handle it well. And we really only pulled the corners, not the trench players who were getting nicked up all game long and who are more at risk. Also, we're going into the bye. One more possession with the starting corners would have clinched it, I think, but I mostly put the blame on the players who, IMO, weren't playing as hard as they should have been. Clock management was good, and the challenge was a no-brainer. B Game ball: Andrew Luck, pretty much did what he wanted, despite the mistakes and the pressure, and it was obvious the whole time that he was going to bring it home Next up, bye week, then a Sunday Night game hosting the Pats. Good opportunity for a "Shut em up" game. Let's bring it home. GO COLTS!!!
  18. Box scoreCallin' em OutWeek 7 grades Defense, D-: 81 plays, 639 yards, 34 first downs (25 passing, 7 rushing, 2 from penalty), 8/13 on third down, 1/1 on fourth down, 5/6 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 42 points; Big Ben made our previously highly touted defense look like gutter trash Defensive front: One bright spot on defense is that we did a pretty good job against the run. We're usually able to corral big, bruising backs, so long as we don't make any big mistakes. The tackling could have been better, but generally, Bell and Blount weren't hurting us. The problem is we had no pass rush. None. Out of 49 dropbacks, we only hit the man twice. We hurried him a few more times, but PFF has him at 9/12 against pressure, with a passer rating of 155, so the meager pressure we did get actually made him better. The biggest hit we got on him was at the end of the game where he tried to roll out for a first down, and Newsome popped him. Far too little, far too late. And it didn't matter whether we were sending 3 rushers or 8, there was nothing we could do to get to him. One particularly poor play, we managed to get some pressure, but he got away and found Antonio Brown for a huge gain, seven seconds after the ball was snapped. Unreal. We never flushed him out or forced him to throw under duress. Just terrible. The best pressure we got was on his punt attempt, which was blocked (by Newsome, again). I can live with playing a QB who gets rid of the ball quickly to avoid pressure, like Peyton Manning did in Week 1, but this was totally different. D-, pitiful scheme, worse execution Pass defense: LOL, what pass defense? Can't cover guys for 4+ seconds in the NFL, and too often, the QB had that kind of time. And then, when he did throw quickly, we didn't have a defender in place to make a play (distinct visions of Heath Miller wide open in the middle of the field, with the nearest defender running away from him). The times we did have someone close, we weren't able to stop the receptions. Okay, we had a couple breakups -- Freeman and Gordy. But overall, this was a clinic. Everything they did worked, nothing we did worked. Davis might have played a little better on the outside, but he was part of a blown coverage before he left the game, so... The defense made some stops in the second half, and it was beginning to look like we might have a chance, and then the safety happened, and the rest is history. D, too many open receivers, 40 completions, 6 TDs, hurt by lack of pass rush Offense, C: 57 plays, 448 yards, 26 first downs (17 passing, 2 rushing, 7 from penalty), 5/10 on third down, 1/3 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 34 points (minus 9 for the returned interception and a safety); got killed on time of possession, which is usually the other way around QB: Obligatory "too many mistakes, too many interceptions" comment. That's obvious. It's also obvious that he got his butt kicked practically all game, with a pressure basically every other play (21 out of 49 dropbacks). He also made his customary big plays, and hopefully has found another fancy target in Moncrief. For whatever reason, his timing with Nicks isn't there, and I'm losing all hope for that connection to be meaningful at any point. He also overthrew and underthrew some TEs and backs on plays that he should be able to make. And to take some of the blame away from the poor pass pro, he was just as bad on plays with no pressure. And after All that said, he was still very productive in the face of less than ideal circumstances. C, carried the offense, but also contributed to the big deficit Backs / receivers / tight ends, B: Running game: No run game. Seven called run plays, because of the deficit, and it also looked like Luck checked out of a few along the way. When we did run, Bradshaw was productive, and did an especially nice job on the TD (and by the way, he's an absolute TD monster this season). But there wasn't anything going on here. Barely even worthy of a grade. B Passing game: Moncrief and Hilton were monsters. Allen was underused, only 2 targets, not enough snaps. Bradshaw got his, and looked pretty good after the catch again. Nicks still can't get separation, and isn't on the same page as the QB. There was plenty of production, and not a lot of mistakes from the pass catchers, but the passing game was off rhythm because of the leaky protection. In the future, I think we'll be in good hands with Hilton and Moncrief. B OL / blocking: Again, nothing to talk about with the run game. Maybe we should have been more patient with the offensive attack, continuing to run the ball, but then again, we gave up 51 points, so that's a tough argument to make. And in the pass game, the outside blockers gave up pressures, and the interior line got pushed back, so the QB didn't often have anywhere to step up. I still wish Luck would leave the pocket more often, but there wasn't a lot of time for him to make those decisions. And after they let him get beat up, they never defended him from the late hits and low shots that the Steelers were giving him. I saw James Harrison helping Luck up from the ground more than his linemen did. A returned late hit for the battering they were giving the QB would have been nice to see, and it never happened. Just a soft performance by the line, after a stretch of really hard fought games, and that's discouraging. D-, man up fellas Special teams: Really good kicking and coverage, still no return game of our own, blahblahblah. I don't expect to have anythig to say here unless we pull off another onside kick or something. A- Coaching / playcalling / game management, C-: Offensive game plan was... undiscovered. We never got into it. The first drive stalled out, the second drive never got going, Luck threw the pick, and then we were in catch-up mode for the remaining 3 quarters of the game. I don't think the Steelers can stop our passing game, all things considered, and if we host them in the playoffs, it's a different outcome, I think. My only nitpick is that we might have been able to slow things down in the first half with some run plays, but again, the defense took that option off the table. B- On defense, I don't know where the zone came from. I think it should go back. Receivers came open too easily, and when we blitzed, we left too much field for only 5 or so guys to cover. The blitzes generally didn't get anywhere near the QB. Just seemed like the absolute wrong gameplan for this team, and by the time we adjusted, it was too late. D Game management was decent, but we wasted a couple timeouts. And overall, the entire staff failed to meet the challenge. We were thoroughly outcoached all game long. Matched with poor execution, the result speaks for itself. C Game ball: Can't give out a game ball after such a terrible performance. Next up, at the Giants, on Monday night. Need a big bounce back game. GO COLTS!!!
  19. Box score Callin 'em Out Week 6 grades Defense, A+: 54 plays, 135 yards (that's 2.5 yards/play), 8 first downs (5 passing, 1 rushing, 2 from penalty), 1/13 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 0/1 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 0 points; first shutout since 2008, and that was an end of season game with starters on the bench I'm not even going to waste anyone's time by breaking this down by unit, like I usually do. Let's just set the record straight: I don't think our defense has ever played a game like this. Maybe the Chiefs game in the 2006 playoffs, but really, just complete domination for four quarters. Practically no yards for most of the game. They didn't come close to threatening to score until that 4th quarter possession, and that took an incredible catch from Sanu, between double coverage. Then, when they got down into the red zone, our guys made it very clear that this game would NOT be put up for grabs. The 4th and goal play saw immediate pressure on Dalton, and the only throw he had a chance at was well short of the end zone, with two guys making sure the ball wouldn't be caught. We hit their receivers all game long -- high, low, when the ball arrived, after the ball arrived, etc. Basically no yards after the catch. A ton of pressures, with four sacks and several more jarring hits. There was no run game. The run fits were pretty good, with some misses, but the linebackers and safeties cleaned those up with little trouble. I'm sure the long week helped (compared to the Bengals, who had a long overtime game on the road, then had to travel to Indy), but they were nothing short of outstanding, all game long. The only negative was Walden being ejected, but his replacement played well, so big deal. The defense gave no quarter, not even to the refs. Offense, B+: 78 plays, 506 yards, 27 first downs (15 passing, 11 rushing, 1 from penalty), 5/13 on third down (none in the first half), 2/4 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 27 points; nice, balanced performance, but we struggled on third down for a lot of the game, and still gave the ball up QB: Not as sharp as he'd been in recent weeks, with some over/underthrows, some late throws, some hesitation to pull the trigger, late decisions to run or scramble, etc. One red zone play, he completely missed Richardson, who was wide open on the backside of the play for a TD (and if this play wasn't designed specifically to get Richardson open, then I don't understand the play; if it was, then I don't understand why Luck never even looked at him). Almost threw a really bad interception on a throw that made no sense in the red zone. And he was still incredibly productive. He dashed the Bengals, a typically capable defense, to pieces, despite leaving nearly a dozen plays on the field. Had 27 completions, several nice checkdowns, sliced up some zone coverage on intermediate throws, and made sure to get at least one deep one to Hilton, just in case anyone missed last week's highlight reel performance. Also, he knocked one of the most physical -- and dirtiest -- linebackers out of the game for a bit on an open field collision (that happens to be the play where he missed Richardson). B-, shows how good he is when he's on top of his game Backs / receivers / tight ends, B+: Running game: Really good game by both guys, and then Boom came in and finished it off. Richardson had a couple carries that looked like he didn't know what to do, and I blame him for the fumble, but the majority of his performance was very good. He hit the hole hard, got around the corner when it was time to do so, shook some guys with ease, and finished strong. Bradshaw did the same, and looked quicker this week than he has recently. I think the long week did him a lot of good. Bad fumble, again, but I get the feeling he'll straighten that out. And Boom was up to the second level in a flash almost every time he got the ball. B+, strong game, we probably should have run more; I hate fumbles Passing game: Dropped passes were not good to see. A couple of them were on Reggie, and after rewatching, it was pretty obvious that his arm was bothering him. Other than that, guys were getting open, making good catches, shrugging off defenders and picking up extra yardage in chunks, including Allen's big TD run. The backs did a great job of turning upfield after getting dumpoffs; Richardson undressed a couple of guys in the open field. Overall, we had 217 yards afer the catch, which is a testament to how hard guys were running with the ball. Great job by everyone. B+, let's fix the drops OL / blocking: There were some mistakes in protection, and it seemed like every one of them led to a QB hit. But there weren't that many issues pass blocking. Luck usually had more than enough time to throw. And the run blocking was on point as well. Again, some lost battles, which happens to even the best line, but we got push up the middle, sealed the outside so the backs could patiently wait for the play to develop, created running lanes... The pull blocking was very good, where it had been sloppy in the past. And my goodness, the counter blocking was devastating. Oh, and no snap issues from Harrison. This was a good outing for the line, against a good defensive front. A Special teams: Let out a 40 yard kickoff return, where McAfee probably should have been putting the ball out of the back of the end zone. And still very little return game of our own. Other than that, special teams was on it. AV was perfect, including a 50 yarder for the oldest player in the NFL. McAfee punted the heck out of the ball, and when I thought he had easily outkicked his coverage, the coverage busted their humps to get down the field and cover. Longest punt return was 8 yards. Pat continues to set the tone (had a tackle, for good measure), and special teams continues to get the job done. A- Coaching / playcalling / game management, A: I loved the safety blitzes, corner blitzes, the freedom for the secondary to play up on short passes, etc. Manusky is doing a good job of manufacturing our pass rush. Well-run and well-coached scrape/gap exchang on the read option. A, I hope the guys can continue to make these gameplans look good The offensive attack was very good. I thought we could have run more, but the passing schemes were excellent. More play action, which I love. Not enough rollouts, but that's okay. I especially like that Luck has a bit more freedom to make sight adjustments and throw the smoke route. B+, could use more run plays The game management was right on. No issue with use of timeouts. I wouldn't have thrown the challenge flag, but Pagano was right to do so. You never know when a botched snap, penalty or fumble might happen, and the play was fixed as a result of the challenge, so good for him. A Game ball: Vontae Davis He helped set the tone with the big hit on Bernard early in the game, played tight coverage for four quarters, knocked out several balls, including one that would have been a TD, and just terrorized the Bengals receivers from start to finish. Seven targets, two catches, 21 yards, no TDs. I hope he can keep playing like this. Next up, at Pittsburgh. It's the first Luck / Roethlisberger matchup. And Reggie might not play. Going to be a tough game, I think. GO COLTS!!!
  20. Box score Callin 'em Out Week 5 grades Offense, B-: 82 plays, 456 yards, 27 first downs (18 passing, 6 rushing, 3 from penalty), 8/16 on third down, 3/5 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 33 points (-7 for the defensive TD allowed); great first quarter, too many mistakes after that QB: Ho hum, just another 370 yards and 3 TDs to add to his NFL best numbers on the season. Not a perfect game, but he made plays to virtually every area of the field, and was unstoppable to Hilton (which is becoming a ritual against the Texans). Faced a lot of pressure, but was very good against their blitzes. I'd like him to use his legs sooner. The pick was a batted pass, which isn't his fault, but he should have been picked on the ill-fated screen, so it balances out. He also needs to get on the same page with Harrison to clean up these snaps. Overall, they had no answer for him, and he's why we got out to an early lead and dominated the clock. We need more of the same this next month, with fewer mistakes. B+, 2 throwaways, 3 batted passes, 4 drops, still completed 25 passes Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: Some positives, but not a lot. Both backs had some good carries, but they also both missed some holes and were slow getting through some holes. And there weren't a hole of holes, by my eye, and both guys got met in the backfield too often. They both continue to run through first contact and finish well, but neither looked particularly fast this week. C, short week and line changes seemed to slow down the rushing attack Passing game: Hilton is a monster, not really much else to say there. Got robbed of a TD, too, on a really stupid play by the DB. No one else caught more than 4 passes or had more than 49 yards, and they got plenty of targets. Reggie and Allen had some big third down plays, and a couple plays came back due to penalty, but this was The TY Hilton Show. Bradshaw also continues to feast on goal line play, and is on pace to shatter a record. B, TY deserves an A+, everyone else was just along for the ride OL / blocking: Not one of their better games. Of course, Watt is the best defensive player in the league, probably top five player overall, so I get it. But we let other guys make plays as well, tackles for loss on blown assignments, sacks and pressures from the second quarter on, etc. We doubled and even occasionally tripled Watt, but the other guys have to handle one-on-ones against "regular" defenders. (Makes me scared for the rematch when Clowney is back.) We didn't have enough lanes in the run game, and only a little push. Some good individual blocks at times, including the new center (had a pancake on Watt), and Joe Reitz looked worthy of a starting job, which many of us expected. Also, the snaps must be fixed. I know there's an adjustment period, but this problem can't linger any longer. Most people were calling out the line, and I don't think they answered the bell. C-, 17 QB pressures, 2.7 yards/rush attempt, and a botched snap Defense, C+: 52 plays, 332 yards, 18 first downs (9 passing, 7 rushing, 2 from penalty), 1/8 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 3/3 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 21 points; gave up too much on the ground and in the air, but great on money downs again Defensive front: The pass rush is alive, and it's varied. Five sacks, and only one came from a blitz situation. We got pressure from the outside and up the middle, and did a better job of finishing than last week. And of course, the late game sack by Bjoern for the second week in a row, this one to end the game. Pressure could stand to be more consistent, though, as there were stretches when we didn't influence the QB for a few plays in a row. The run defense wasn't nearly as good, as the gap integrity was sloppy, we seemed slow in pursuit let some gains out on backside runs, didn't tackle very well, got pushed off the ball, didn't maintain gaps properly... all of which led to a big night by Foster and a couple nice runs by Blue. Redding and Kerr didn't look as good as they have (no surprise, Redding is older and this was a quick turnaround, on the road, and Kerr is a rookie and probably wasn't ready for the physical demand himself). The inside backers weren't very good against the run either. Chapman had limited snaps, but was better at nose; maybe that's the key for him, have to keep him under 25 snaps a game. RJF is playing fine, but Art Jones is starting to be missed. B-, pass rush is getting better by the week, run defense getting sloppy Pass defense: The way to beat Vontae Davis is perfect throws to a big veteran receiver. And still, he only gave up a couple plays. Toler and Gordy both got beat a couple times also. The Texans mostly worked the middle and underneath, with only two passes going more than 20 yards downfield. The linebackers did a good job containing, even batting down some passes. I felt like the safeties were kind of a nonfactor, in that they weren't challenged. The key, though, was pass rush, as the QB was near perfect when we failed to pressure him. C+, still vulnerable up the middle, and no one really made any plays Special teams: Pagano called McAfee "a weapon." He's right. I'm sure this pace won't continue, but 3/3 on onsides is amazing, and this was the most impressive one, as he did it by himself on a perfect dribbler that no one else had a shot at. The Texans special teams coach knew he messed up; if you can read lips even a little bit, you know what I mean. No returns of any kind were allowed. He pinned a punt at the 7, 9 and 11 yard lines. A perfect game, IMO. And AV was perfect, as well. We still don't have a return game of our own, but we have the #1 offense in terms of yards, first downs, points/game, plays/game (by a long shot), and #8 on third down conversions. We'll live without a return game. A Coaching / playcalling / game management, B+: Manusky continues to all a good game, IMO, and without four defensive starters this week. I've been annoyed with Werner dropping into coverage too much, but he only dropped once this game. Just a simple gameplan, but it's working well. B+, tackling and poor trench play isn't a coaching issue, especially on a short week Perfect start on offense, helped by the onside kick. The offensive line didn't hold up, and we didn't do much to help them with blocking schemes and adjustments. Some of the screen plays looked disastrous, and we're not cut blocking on short throws, which leads to tipped passes. The passing schemes, especially on the goal line, are looking better. Play action was up to about 28% this week, which is good. B-, need to do more to slow down Watt Weird timeout at the end of the first quarter, but it seemed like Luck was having a tough time getting the plays from the sideline; I saw him looking over several times. The onside kick seems to be a pre-determined go-or-no kind of call, so I don't know how much of that goes to the game day coaching, but that's a good install that Pagano says they worked on through camp. B, good to hang on, but it would be nice to finish this game off early Game ball: TY Hilton. Just go back up and watch those gifs. After having TDs called back twice(?) this year, and then one in the first quarter, he finally got in the end zone, and it held up, and it was the deciding score in the game. He ran by double-high coverage, he beat guys to the ball in the air, and was reliable, catching all 9 of his targets. An absolute star performance, on national TV. Congrats, TY. Next, vs the Bengals. We get a break with AJ Green doubtful, but Gio Bernard is a problem, and they have a good defense. I hope we handle the long week better than we did last year. GO COLTS!!!
  21. Box score Callin 'em Out Week 4 grades First big win of the season, against a "ranked" opponent. Sloppy at times, but a decisive victory, led by the defense. Gonna try to make this a little shorter than usual; it's already time for the Texans game. Defense, B+: 57 plays, 287 yards, 15 first downs (9 passing, 4 rushing, 2 from penalty), 1/11 on third down, 1/3 on fourth down, 1/3 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 13 points; aside from a couple of drives and a few penalties, the Ravens weren't doing much of anything Defensive front: The middle of the line got pushed back on some run plays, which led to a few big gains, and then there was the 29 yarder against the near prevent. Those five or six substantial run plays were annoying. The other 10 carries or so were pretty well shut down. The pass rush was on the job, collapsing the pocket, getting inside push, and making a mess of the Ravens pass game. The blitzes were well done, and of course, Bjoern got off the schneid (that's German, right?) A lot of people called for him to finally make it happen, and he did. B, much better pass rush, need to do better getting off blocks in the middle Pass defense: Davis is still the man, and he's making plays. The safety play was excellent, and Adams made some really good plays also. Freeman being back is great, but he got worked by Owen Daniels a couple times. The middle coverage was still exploited, for 153 of 235 yards. Underneath coverage was good, and we tackled well, mostly. Got called for some bogus penalties, again. Holding their passing game to 5.9 adjusted yards/attempt and no TDs is strong. Only three attempts went more than 20 yards downfield, and none of them connected. The staff talked about a "no fly zone" last year; this is it. B+, left side is still shut down, and if the pass rush works, the underneath stuff gets shut down, but the middle is still soft Offense, C+: 80 plays, 422 yards, 26 first downs (19 passing, 6 rushing, 1 from penalty), 7/15 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 2/5 in the red zone, 4 turnovers, 20 points; struggled taking care of the ball and with the ground game QB: Didn't necessarily come crashing down to earth, as he still made big plays and put it in the end zone twice, but the picks were very costly, and both avoidable. Neither was necessarily due to him throwing the ball to the defense; one he was hit on, the other was tipped. But he still either held the ball too long when he could have run, or he tried to force the ball to a well covered receiver. He beat himself up after both, because they were both bad decisions, and everyone knew it. But then the scrambles caught the Ravens off guard, and he threaded the needle in the short and intermediate game, getting chunks and scores when the time came. I thought he missed some end zone throws to Nicks and Wayne. This game was still better than the first two of the season, but not the star effort we saw recently. C, 9 picks last year, 6 picks through 5 games so far Backs / receivers / tight ends, C+: Running game: Better production than last week, and a few good carries, but also some lost opportunities by both backs by not finding the hole or being slow to get through it. That's the usual with Richardson, but Bradshaw seemed to make the same mistakes this week. Plus, he had the fumble with the game on the line. Both guys ran hard, broke several tackles (9 missed tackles, per PFF), got extra yardage, etc., the typical stuff. Just need to do better hitting the hole when it's actually there. C+, five carries out of 24 account for 52 of 105 rushing yards Passing game: Not as prominent in this game, but still productive. No dropped passes, no real mistakes. The penalties on Reggie wiped out some plays. I thought Nicks got robbed of a first down on the first drive. The pass protection allowed the guys to come open for some nice gains, with several for 20+.The comeback routes sometimes seem unstoppable. I'd like to see us hit some of those deep balls, but the Ravens seemed very disciplined with their coverage down the field. B-, need more immediate separation OL / blocking: The run blocking was up and down, but I thought there was some good push and some good holes at times. The upback carry by Bradshaw was really well done, with a nice block by the new starting center. The second level blocking wasn't very good, as we missed the linebackers on pulls and some screens. Some blitzes hurt us, so the line calls still need to be better. Cherilus and Thornton got beat on some pass rushes. Surprisingly, Fleener did a really good job pass blocking and run blocking. Harrison's mistakes are concerning, but hopefully they'll get better with more experience. C+, I didn't think the line suffered with Harrison, but I didn't think it was better, either Special teams: McAfee and AV were just as good as usual, and the punt and kickoff coverage was great. Whalen made a bunch of mistakes as a returner, which is the opposite of what he usually does. He can't keep the job if he doesn't secure the ball. B- Coaching / playcalling / game management, B: Really good defensive game plan, nice blitz schemes which seemed to work most of the time, the high/low coverage by Adams and Davis that led to the pick was a really good play call, and executed perfectly. Manusky seems to be putting the guys in better position. B+, still soft across the middle Offense sputtered, but I had no problem with the play calling. I don't like the sprint-outs; would rather see play action roll outs. I could probably complain about the pass:run ratio, but against a good run defense, I understand. B I didn't think the 4th down try was necessary at all. I think the points should have been more important. And that led to a failed challenge. It was early enough in the game that neither issue was a big deal, and the defense got the ball right back. No other real game management situations to consider. B- Game ball: Bjoern Werner, finally answered the call and took the QB down, and then did it again. Really good pass rushes throughout, had a few really good stops, and knocked a pass down. My favorite play was a run stop, where he showed the change of direction that we need our OLBs to have. I hope he can keep it going. Next, @ Houston on Thursday. JJ Watt will have something to say about the outcome of this game. GO COLTS!!!
  22. Box score Callin 'em Out Week 3 grades Gonna start with the defense this week. Defense, B: 47 plays, 261 yards, 16 first downs (9 passing, 4 rushing, 3 from penalty), 1/9 on third down, 2/3 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 17 points; can't cover Delanie Walker, but other than that, the defense was strong Defensive front: Shut down the run early, and they never really did anything until the game was pretty much over. Their backs combined for 45 yards on 11 carries, as they hardly even tried to run in the first half due to our offense dominating the clock. A handful of short or no gains, and the run defense was never really tested. That's just the way we like it. RJF has been in the opposing backfield a lot, and continued that against the Titans. The pass rush had to be manufactured with stunts, looping rushers, blitzes, etc., and was aided by GREAT coverage, but we sacked Whitehurst 3 times, and we pressured their QBs on 17 of 36 dropbacks. Those pressures led to 40 yards on scrambles, which is still an issue with our defense. Tackled reasonably well. Only 47 plays, so, everyone seemed fresh and energetic. No real complaints. B, pass rush is going to continue to be a problem, and we need to contain scrambling QBs better Pass defense: Hard to be critical of anything, really. Got beat by Walker a couple of times, which is to be expected since our ILBs aren't great in coverage. But the TD was excellent coverage, just a great throw to a big, athletic TE. ::shrugs:: Vontae is The Eraser; he takes receivers off the map. If you line up on the left side of your offensive formation, just take a quick nap, because Vontae is shutting you down. Zero targets for him. Toler gave up some catches, but was tight in coverage most of the day, and tackled well. Butler and the safeties were good, and Adams got a couple of cheap picks. Landry had a decent game, but didn't really make any plays himself, so I think we'll be okay without him. Want a stat? Their QBs were 9/16 for 148 yards when throwing across the middle, with a TD and two INTs. They were 4/8 for 33 yards throwing to the outside (and all 8 of those were to the right side). Yeah. B, still soft across the middle, but part of that is by design Offense, B: 82 plays, 498 yards, 31 first downs (21 passing, 7 rushing, 3 from penalty), 7/14 on third down, 4/6 in the red zone, 1 turnover, 41 points; dominant passing game, hurt ourselves with a turnover and several penalties QB: Another star performance. Mostly perfect, really. I counted one time that he should have tried to scramble, and instead he forced one to Reggie across the middle. And then he had two bad passes in the first half, one of which was picked, and the other one should have been. Both on similar plays, too, where he had no business throwing the ball where he was. I'm not going to make any excuses for those two plays, as I watched them several times and can't understand what he thought he saw. Just bad. However, the other 38 dropbacks were masterful. Threw the ball as well as he ever has, led receivers beautifully, was on point with quick reads and sight adjustments, and just sliced the Titans up to every part of the field. He also ate their blitzes for lunch, and spit out the remains. Same with pretty much any zone coverage. And good heavens, the TD to Reggie? Perfect throw, and #87 knew just what to do with it. I have to knock him for the two bad throws, but it's hard to imagine Luck playing a better overall game than this. B+, only because the two throws were really bad Backs / receivers / tight ends, B: Running game: First time this year I felt the run game wasn't satisfactory. No room to run, really, and that's after hyper-analyzing the unsuccessful rushing attempts. Richardson might have been slow through a couple holes, and had some opportunities to bounce it outside, but really, there was nothing there. A lot of people were ready to praise Bradshaw and Herron, but they didn't produce anything on the ground, either, and I can't blame them. Hopefully this gets better next week. C, very little production, but still dependent on a blocking unit that wasn't at its best Passing game: The receivers got open, and caught the ball. For the first time this year, I thought we stressed the defense vertically, and right away, it paid off with the underneath stuff. Reggie still doesn't look fast, but is able to get separation at the top of his routes, no matter who's trying to cover him. Hilton and Nicks got behind the defense a couple times, but couldn't complete the plays due to penalties or really good desperation coverage. Luck also missed Nicks on an outside move, but he was throwing quick to pick up the first down. The TEs all made plays. Fleener kind of showed the ability we want to see on a regular basis. Doyle is just reliable. Allen is starting to look more like himself. Richardson dropped his first pass, but caught the next four, and was dangerous on a couple. Bradshaw was great on the TD, with the escort by Moncrief. A, great game all the way around, led by Reggie and TY OL / blocking: Pretty well solid in pass protection. The gameplan helped, but Luck didn't face a lot of pressure. We picked up blitzes well, and the backs were good in pass pro (aside from one Bradshaw mistake). Gave up 11 pressures on 44 dropbacks, which isn't great, but most of the pressures came late in the play. Run blocking was a different story. Nothing doing, as we couldn't generate movement or provide running lanes with any regularity. The line didn't get blown back off the ball, but was more sloppy than overmatched, under-executing some assignments on pulls and on the edge, and just generally not finishing plays. Kind of frustrating, and the worst offenders were the tackles, who are the best players on the line. Louis wasn't great, but wasn't as bad as I originally thought, and Mewhort made some rookie mistakes. And then the penalties... nearly killed some drives, and would have been problematic against a better defense. The best run blocking came on toss plays, and we only called a couple of those. Hopefully Thornton's return will help, but I don't think his absence was the main reason for the poor run blocking, so... C+, good protection, sloppy run blocking Special teams: Been saving the 'A' for a big play, and didn't have to wait long. The onside kick was executed perfectly, despite being completely out of place. Jack Doyle, Griff Whalen and Pat McAfee all deserve bonuses for that. To this point, only 2 onside kicks have been successful throughout the league, and we have both of them. AV was a perfect 2/2 on routine kicks, McAfee punted like a boss, all the kickoffs went out the back of the end zone, wake me if you've heard this before... The kicking is on point. Still nothing to speak of in the return game, but the offense doesn't seem to mind. A Coaching / playcalling / game management, A-: The defense is susceptible to passes over the short middle, partly because Jerrell Freeman is out, but partly because we vacate it so often. That's more acceptable when we have a pass rush, but we really don't, and now we're blitzing to create a pass rush, leaving us more vulnerable across the middle. We need a nickel backer or coverage safety who can handle TEs, but for right now, not much we can do scheme-wise. My only complaint with the defensive play calling. The middle blitzes and stunts were more effective this week. B, let's see some adjustments to take away the middle of the field Offensive approach was basically the same as last week. I feel like Pep's gotten into a groove, and the route combinations are better than ever. Luck has a little more freedom with adjusting when the DBs play off, and that's a good thing. We used some backfield action on the end around and a FB dive to Bradshaw, and both plays showed some potential for some fakes and misdirection moving forward. I hope it comes. Also, still a good mix of play action, though I think there's room for more. A- Whenever you call a surprise onside kick, and it works, there's no complaint from me. Weird and out of place, but it worked. The rest of the game was according to Hoyle. A Game balls: Reggie Wayne, if he can do this just four games after returning from an ACL, at nearly 36 years old, the league might be in trouble. And he stumbled his way out of a second TD. He continues to work his way up the record books, and is now in 7th place for receptions, and 10th place for yards. You go, Reggie. Next, vs the Ravens, who have their own 35 year old terror at WR, and a much better overall team. Still, they don't win in Indianapolis, and John Harbaugh deserves to be drowned out by the crowd at LOS. Get that W! GO COLTS!!!
  23. This is really weird to me: Week 2 grades Callin 'em Out! Box score Offense, B+: 74 plays, 529 yards, 27 first downs (22 passing, 5 rushing), 8/14 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 4/6 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 37 points; smooth sailing all the way through, with only a few minor stalls QB: And there's the star QB, the one who can make all the plays, all the throws, who sidesteps rushers like he's a matador, who can get outside the pocket and make throws downfield on the run, who can carry this team to new heights if he's playing well. Luck missed a couple throws, a couple high ones, and of course the inexplicable miss to Hilton on the goal line. But he did an incredible job of finding the open man, he took the easy completions, and whenever he had a chance, he feasted on the Jags defense. At one point, he hit 13 passes in a row, and the 14th pass was the Fleener TD drop. So, yeah, the only way he could be stopped was by his own teammates. A, first player in the NFL since Johnny Unitas to throw for 350+ yards, 4+ TDs, and 79% completions Backs / receivers / tight ends, B+: Running game: Picked up where we left off against the Eagles. Backs ran hard, Richardson had a 27 yarder, Bradshaw outdid him with a 28 yarder (and a TD). Both guys had a ton of broken tackles, and minimal negative carries (I counted just three runs for loss, and only a yard on each). They are forming a really good tandem, and benefiting from some pretty good run blocking. B+, a steady and dependable rushing attack Passing game: Guys started to get some separation for a change, and in different areas of the field. The WRs all caught the ball well, including the rookie in fill-in duty. Wayne still looks off, but he's still productive, and hopefully he'll shake off the rust. TEs got more involved, and since it's been so long since they were a prominent part of the offense, Fleener and Allen both forgot how to catch, but both made up for their drops with TDs. Let's hope that's out of their system. Richardson had a drop also, but everyone who got a target caught a pass. Lots of toys for Luck, and we did a good job of deploying them this week. Even had a couple successful screen plays. B+, it's gonna be hard to cover all these guys on all these different levels of the field OL / blocking: Another workman performance. The offensive line didn't necessarily get consistent push on run plays, but they still won battles and created holes for backs to squeak through and get yardage. And yeah there's a bad play or two, here or there, but overwhelmingly, the run blocking has been positive. We just haven't proved that we can win in short yardage, which will be a bigger deal when we play the AFC North teams. Pass blocking was fine; our QBs took 45 dropbacks, and only faced notable pressure on 10 of those dropbacks. Luck was sacked twice, but I feel like he ran himself into one of those, and he still got back to the line of scrimmage. Backs did a good job in pass pro, but weren't used that much overall to block, which really says something about the line. B-, need to get more push in short yardage Defense, B+: 55 plays, 344 yards, 18 first downs (10 passing, 6 rushing, 2 from penalty), 4/10 on third down, 1/1 in the red zone, 3 turnovers, 17 points; Bortles jump started them, but the defense still played well throughout Defensive front: Didn't allow any real production from their main ball carriers, as we continue to close up the middle. Set the edge pretty well, aside from a handful of plays, some read option and end around plays. Not seeing a lot of pushback from Chapman, but Redding and RJF have been beating guys all year, and that continued in this one. Zach Kerr continues to play well. Linebackers are mopping up nicely. The pass rush is spotty but the plan is to free up the OLBs and blitzers, and that worked well, as they got three sacks. The 4th came from the new rookie, Quarles, who looked good when he got in the game. Werner's strip-sack-safety got wiped out by a bogus penalty, but it was an incredible pass rush move from the left side, which he seems to prefer as a rusher. Still have a problem with the read option defense; Walden seems to love crashing without regard for the QB keeper, and read option teams are going to exploit that. The edge guys are going to have to slow down, which is counter to the pass rush directive they've all been given in Mathis' absense. Still, can't let the ball carrier get outside, otherwise it's Bortles with 20 yards on the ground, which hurts. B, better pass rush, but not great, and some sloppy edge play Pass defense: Henne couldn't do anything, only 33 yards in the first half before he got the hook. Bortles struggled to get anything going, and when he did, we wiped it out for the most part, until the poor tackling happened. Davis, Toler and Butler played really good coverage, despite some missed tackles and penalties, and even Landry looked good in coverage. Take away the 63 yarder to Hurns, and Bortles would have averaged. They sneaked some TDs on the board, but overall, our pass defense shut down whatever they tried to get going. Once it's 37-3 in the 4th quarter, everything else becomes irrelevant. A-, have to tackle better after the catch Special teams: Same as last week, except McAfee punted even better, with a Mike Scifres impression at one point. AV was 3/3 from 48, 43 and 25 yards. Nothing returning, and no return opportunities for the Jags. Routine performance, only mistake was the hold on the punt return. B+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, A-: I don't know how much the defensive gameplan changed from previous weeks. Seemed like Landry was in less man coverage, which is good, and the corners were a little more aggressive. Still vulnerable across the middle of the field with ILBs, but blitzing them and a safety from time to time makes it harder to get guys open in the middle. We didn't get exploited by any mismatches this week, and we blitzed more effectively, IMO. B+, strong performance against a weak opponent obviously helped Different approach against a different kind of defensive front, and against a team that isn't interested in pushing tempo, so we didn't need to be worried about controlling the clock, which we did anyways. But Luck being a little more in tune was a major benefit, and helped Pep get into a groove as a play caller. And making me happy, we used play action on 32% of Luck's dropbacks, compared to 8% in Week 1, and 19% in Week 2. I asked for high 20s, at least, but I love the play action. Huge adjustment, and I think anyone can see the change in made in helping Luck stay away from pressure and find windows to throw in. Very little unbalanced run stuff, but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of that. A, we had receivers open all over the place, and the run was still effective Game management was out of Chuck's hands, given the fact that we controlled the game throughout. Some didn't like the 4th down attempt in the second half, but I don't think it had any bearing on how Pagano would handle a similar situation in an undecided game. INC Game balls: Luck, I don't like giving game balls to the franchise QB, as he'll often be a catalyst to wins, but he was very obviously the reason for the season. Historic performance, and he made it look easy. Next, vs the Titans, who don't know who their QB is, and who have been outscored 59-17 the past two weeks. They also can't stop the run, and suddenly, we have a solid run game. We need to win games like this. GO COLTS!!!
  24. Two really good halves, back to back. Too bad they were in two different games, but combining the end of the Denver game and the beginning of the Eagles game, we'd have a 34-13 advantage. Need a solid full game effort one of these days... Week 1 grades Colts vs Eagles box score Offense, B-: 72 plays, 341 yards, 25 first downs (14 passing, 7 rushing, 4 from penalty), 4/12 on third down, 1/1 on fourth down, 3/4 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 27 points; finished in the red zone, but the TOs hurt QB: Kind of picking up the same theme as last week. Luck is going to have to snap out of it and make plays. His timing isn't good, his throws are sometimes off target, and he invites pressure rather than taking off with the ball. He could have ran the ball in on the first TD drive rather than dumping it to Bradshaw. There were other opportunities for him to run. He hasn't thrown the ball downfield to stress the secondary. I'm not too irritated with him for the pick, but it did take the go-ahead points off the board. C, I'd like quicker decisions and more playmaking Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: If not for the fumbles, this would have rivaled the Niners game from last year. For pretty much all game, the run game was successful, and there were several big rips, back to back run gains, etc. Best game from our backs in a while, and if we can get this kind of 1-2 punch with any regularity, it will make a huge difference. But the fumbles... c'mon, Trent. B+, my only complaint is the two fumbles, which isn't characteristic of Richardson Passing game: Another one where I think the QB has to do a better job of taking quick, easy completions, and then letting the ball get downfield and giving his guys a chance at a play. We threw into a lot of tight or even double coverage, so maybe the separation wasn't there regularly, but there were several times where Luck missed the open man or a better opportunity. The screens don't work, for whatever reason. The backs also did a good job as receivers, and probably should have gotten a few more targets. The TE attack was strange, with Doyle getting as many targets as Fleener and Allen combined, but he snuck in for a TD. Reggie had a really nice route and grab, but still doesn't look like he can just get open and make a catch whenever he wants. C+, not a lot of good opportunities, given the flow of the game OL / blocking: Every play wasn't perfect, but this line did what we have been asking them to do. Made running lanes all game long, wherever you wanted them to be, got into the second level and created opportunities for extended pick-ups, finished blocks, etc., and did so with zero penalties. They also didn't blow too many protections. The Eagles' blitzes were effective, but only 4 pressures, and I think those middle blitzes need to be read beforehand by the center and QB, and be picked up by backs or rolled away from. The Eagles don't exactly have a fearsome front, but they have some guys who can make plays in Cole and Barwin, and they were mostly kept away from the QB and the ball in general. WE CAN BUILD ON THIS! B, some letdowns here and there with missed blocks, but overall, we beat their defensive front Defense, C: 65 plays, 458 yards, 24 first downs (13 passing, 9 rushing, 2 from penalty), 5/12 on third down, 3/6 in the red zone, 1 turnovers, 30 points; 7 yards/play won't cut it, too many big plays, need to create more TOs Defensive front: Another reasonably good job against the run, aside from a couple of carries. We have to erase that, because it's just enough to hurt us. Tackled much better, aside from a couple of carries. Take out McCoy's long of 21 yards, and Sproles' long of 19 yards, and those two guys averaged less than 3 yards/carry. McCoy had another for 16 yards. So we need to be more consistent. We got beat on read option a couple of times, but Foles isn't fast enough to really hurt us, and Freeman is our scrape/exchange guy and he didn't play. The pass rush was painfully inadequate, and it was obvious from the second play. They also like to get rid of the ball quick, but Foles had a handful of dropbacks where he could have played a game of UNO before we got pressure. 11 pressures in 37 dropbacks isn't bad, but it's not enough, and those pressures were mostly late pressures. C+, someone has got to step up and get some pressure, and we can't let out 40 yards on two carries Pass defense: Often done in by the pass rush, and more ticky-tack penalties, we gave up some plays. The receivers didn't do the damage, though; they combined for 6 catches for 70 yards. Ertz had a couple plays that really stung, but it was really Sproles, and we all know that feel... Two 50+ yard plays off of short passes for that man. He carried their offense. Without those two plays, we win. McNary got roasted on those, and it really drags this grade down. That halfback angle route that puts a quick RB against our ILBs is a killer. I think the coverage was generally much better than last week, although there were some other letdowns. At least, on most completions, we had a man there to bring the receiver down right away, and even got some PDs. C, five plays of 20+ yards, two of 50+, explains Foles' 8.5 adjusted yards/attempt Special teams: Good special teams play, good coverage, a couple of decent returns,, 2/2 on FGs, punted well (maybe a little too well, but didn't give up more than 8 yards on a return), and a rookie penalty that I must not understand, as I didn't think that was a blindside hit. B+, reserving a higher grade for a special performance from someone Coaching / playcalling / game management, C: Defensively, we need to coach that read option better. I guess we're not facing RGIII this year, but anyone who runs more than a 5 second 40 could have taken off for a lot more yardage than Foles was getting. And the mismatch issue changed from a TE to a RB, but I think covering Sproles is a lot different schematically than covering anyone else in the league, basically. I'm good with the defensive gameplan, but more effective blitzing is in order at times, and Manusky isn't quite getting them there. C+, matchups and blitzes, matchups and blitzes I'm fine with the overall offensive gameplan, the run/pass ratio, all that. I don't like a handful of calls, and I'm still looking for more play action. Especially when the run game is working. And make Luck comfortable with running the ball, call some rollouts, there are even some read option opportunities for us. Also, our bubble screens suck, and it's because our WRs aren't blocking well, and we're not cutting the edge defender on the play side, so he's getting a hand on the ball. Need to fix that. And figuring out how to handle 2nd and 4 or 3rd and 9 is critical, moving forward. I've defended Pep against some of the criticisms this week, but there's no question he missed some calls. It's too bad those few calls are standing out among what I thought was a well-called game. C+, can't go higher than this until he rediscovers play action Got the 4th down right, and I thought the rest of the game management was fine. Play calling and execution on the last drive was lacking, but that's on Pep and Luck. B Game balls: No game balls. Get a win, then we can talk. Next, @ Jacksonville. Perfect opportunity to right the ship, but keep in mind these guys sacked Foles five times in the first half in Week 1. GO COLTS!!!
  25. Season opener, yaay! Let's play some football!!! Wait, down 24 points??? Colts @ Broncos box score Offense, C: 70 plays, 408 yards, 24 first downs (20 passing, 2 rushing, 2 from penalty), 4/13 on third down, 2/4 on fourth down, 2/4 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 24 points; lots of unfinished drives, could/should have been more points on the board QB: So, Luck makes a ton of big plays for us. He also messed up several plays, threw some high balls, some behind receivers... and then there was the ill-fated goal line sneak that wasn't sneaky at all. We all want Luck to have more control of the offense, but then some of the plays that he had control over didn't go well. Still a young QB that has to get better. And at the same time, he was responsible for leading the team back from down 3+ scores, and without his big plays, this game is nowhere close. I just want him to make decisions faster, get out of the pocket quicker, and make his throws more accurately. C+ Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: I think the backs were fine. Richardson missed a hole on one carry, but the rest of his carries were decisive. Bradshaw was productive with his carries as well. Just weren't enough of them, from either player. Both backs were good catching the ball and picking up yardage, and both were tough to tackle in the open field. B, if we're not done by so much, I think the run game might have factored in more Passing game: I'd like to watch the game more, but I got the distinct impression from what I've seen that the receivers weren't getting great separation. Could be the reason Luck was holding the ball too long. Some nice catches, some costly drops. Fleener's play will be critiqued, and rightfully so. I thought he mistimed his jump in the end zone, and could have had a TD, but I didn't think the ball was very catchable. Allen started to look like himself again. Reggie had 9 catches, but I felt like he was a little rusty. The other receivers were hit and miss, especially Hilton. B-, sort of bottled up by good coverage OL / blocking: Not bad, considering we started the newly reacquired Shipley at center, a rookie at LG, and a second year guy at RG. The tackles were really good, shutting down two good pass rushers. The book says that Luck got pressured a lot, but I feel like he invited a lot of that pressure by not getting rid of the ball (and the gameplan didn't move him around very much). Got push in the run game most of the time, but there were some mistakes that led to losses or short gains. Thornton got bullied on a pass rush, leading to a sack. C, I'm feeling optimistic about the run game, but hope Holmes comes back soon Defense, C: 69 plays, 361 yards, 24 first downs (13 passing, 8 rushing, 3 from penalty), 7/14 on third down, 3/4 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 31 points; got smoked in the first half, significantly better in the second half, lots of work to do Defensive front: Did a decent job against the run. Their backs only averaged 3.5 yards/carry, and they had three carries of 10+. We didn't exactly live in their backfield, but we kept them contained and limited them to modest gains. What hurt is that we couldn't stop them on 3rd and 1, 3rd and 2... The pass rush was a non-factor until late in the game. I don't think our front failed, I just think Manning did a great job of getting rid of the ball quickly, and we weren't great at sticking with receivers in short areas, so the pass rush had little chance to get home. Sent a couple safety blitzes, and finally got home with an inside blitz, but Manning was pretty clean all night. When we finally made a play -- FUMBLE!!! -- we couldn't scoop it up or fall on it, the ball seemed to purposely jump away from our guys. Indicative of most of the big opportunities in this game. B-, good enough for a lesser opponent, needed more plays against the Broncos Pass defense: Do I have to? Okay... Landry's coverage is bad, especially down in the box. This is why he shouldn't play SS. Jackson can't cover good TEs. Jerrell Freeman might be able to cover good TEs, but not when they are being thrown to by the best QBs in the league. Toler gets a lot of hate for the penalties, and he did blow a couple of coverages, but overall, I was fine with his play, and I think the penalties were ticky-tack. He almost had the pick in the end zone on the first possession, which would have changed things. Davis LOVES playing the Broncos, and turned in another gem. What killed us is the short passes to Thomas, one long ball to Sanders, and some brutal penalties. C-, was an F in the first half, but the coverage was much better in the second half Special teams: Why can't we get 11 men on the field for a FG try? Otherwise, solid outing. No kick returns, virtually nothing on punt returns for them (Purifoy got a nice whack on their returner), Whalen eeked out a few yards for us. Pat punted really well, and we just missed a pin at the goal line. B+ Coaching / playcalling / game management, C (we need much more than a "C" effort out of our coaches): Defensively, we didn't match our players up well. None of our LBs can cover Julius Thomas. Neither can Landry. Don't do this. And we played more soft underneath coverage than I'd like to start the game, which is why Sanders finished with 6 catches (including three in a row to start). But the halftime adjustments were good. I'm tempted to complain about the holding penalties, but I think that's going to take some getting used to. C- I think the gameplan looked fine, but the play calling on early 3rd downs was poor, and there were some missed opportunities to test ourselves in the run game (like the 3rd and 1 on the first drive). Most of this game was about catching up, so the philosophy and gameplan kind of go out the window, but we started off with a no-huddle approach. I also asked for more play action, and the first play of the game was a play action pass (out of a big formation, by the way), for 22 yards. Need more play action; only five attempts in 60 dropbacks. C First 4th and 1 should have been a "go for it." The failed sneak should be a timeout. The rest of the game management was okay. We had some no-brainer 4th downs, and the onside kick was a good call. I might have tried the short kickoff the next time. B- Game balls: No game balls. Get a win, then we can talk. Next, MNF, home vs. the Eagles. Another really good offense that will push the issue, but they made some mistakes against the lowly Jags. Hopefully we can make them pay if they give us the opportunities. GO COLTS!!!
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