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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. 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!!!
  3. Just a weird note: We ran 70 plays, gained 379 yards and had 23 first downs, 17 passing. The Jags ran 70 plays, had 350 yards and 19 first downs, 17 passing. Similar results, right? Except the score was 30-10. Perfect example of why people should stop referring to yardage stats when ranking offenses and defenses. Yardage can be absolutely meaningless. Week 16 grades Week 17 box score Offense, B-: 70 plays, 379 yards, 23 first downs (17 passing, 4 rushing, 2 from penalty), 8/16 on third down, 3/5 in the red zone, 0 turnovers, 30 points; jumped out to a big lead, even leaving some points on the bench, but put the game away right from the start QB: Another strong game. Not a terribly fearsome opponent, but Luck was even and measured, tested the secondary a few times but mostly took safe throws, and was accurate on those throws. Had good time from the line, and put the ball right where it needed to be. Forced it a couple times when he had open receivers elsewhere. Chose not to run with the ball very much, as the Jags were right in position whenever he'd break out of the pocket. Solid game, did just what we needed him to. Very similar to last week's performance. I'm convinced Luck has the best hard count in the league. B Backs / receivers / tight ends, B-: Running game: The running game was good situationally, but overall didn't do much. Not a lot of room to operate, and some missed holes by Brown and Richardson. But when the time came to get yards on the ground, we were able to punch it through. Slow to get outside on the off tackle runs, and didn't do much to fight off tacklers. Have to do better against playoff competition. C, a small step back from the last two weeks Passing game: Balanced and effective performance all the way through, continually getting separation, making big catches and picking up first downs. There was a little bit of everyone in this game, plus a lot of Hilton, which is nice. He set some career highs, after a long stretch of shrug-worthy production. Still some missed opportunities downfield, but it's important to keep going deep, so long as the receivers don't give up and let the ball get picked off (which Hilton deserves extra credit for on the nearly picked bomb.) The TD to Whalen was a really nice play against the Jags red zone zone defense. The potential for an explosion exists with these guys, and that's great, because a month and a half ago, we wondered if anyone could make a play. Now everyone seems to be doing their part. B OL / blocking: Really good job in pass protection. For most of the game, Luck was comfortable, and had time to wait for receivers to come open. There were a few pressures, but defenses get pressure. For the most part, their pressures had no impact on the game. Backs picked up some blocks as well. Against the run, it was a different story. Not much push, allowed a lot of penetration on edge runs, and was generally sloppy. The situational carries were strong, on the goalline and in short yardage. Richardson's TD run was blocked very well. C+, need more consistency in the run game Defense, A-: 70 plays, 350 yards, 19 first downs (17 passing, 2 rushing, 0 from penalty), 3/14 on third down, 3/5 on fourth down, 1/2 in the red zone, 2 turnovers, 10 points; most of the yards and the TD came in garbage time Defensive front: Started out strong against the run, and stayed that way. No room for MJD to do anything, aside from a couple of 5 or 6 yarders, and the backup didn't do anything either. Shut down the outside and stayed strong up the middle. Virtually no mistakes, despite some less than stellar tackling at times. In two games, MJD gained a total of 62 yards rushing, and never got near the end zone. The pass rush did their job, but kind of piece by piece. It was good enough, but the pressure wasn't consistent. Not a lot of penetration, and the Jags didn't really want to let Mathis make noise, though he still did with several hits and a couple more sacks (I think he should get a half sack on Freeman's). And the pass rush influenced the sloppy throw, although Henne let the ball slip out. The front was rock solid all game. A-, just need more action on the QB Pass defense: Stayed tight on receivers, not giving very much room to get passes in. The ones that were caught, we took the receiver down right away for the most part. Linebackers did a good job, and Darius Butler was again causing trouble for the opponent. A couple of mistakes as the game went on, but mostly the reserves. I said above that the yardage doesn't really tell the story, and this is a perfect example. Gave up 330 yards, but I thought the pass defense was nearly flawless when it mattered. And aside from the final drive, the young guys did a good job as well. A, hopefully Davis is okay Special teams: Demerit for McAfee kicking the ball out of bounds, and for Brazill doing his David Reed impression and bringing the ball out from the back of the end zone, but not getting to the 15 yard line. Did a good job otherwise. B+ Coaching / playcalling, A-: Defense was excellent. Gameplan was excellent, and worked brilliantly. A I spent a month and a half begging for more traps and draws, and now I think we're using them a little too much. They were mostly ineffective in this game. But the tempo of the offense was great, we've unleashed Luck and are allowing him to do his thing, and he's responding well. Got a little pass happy for a bit. We can do a better job in scoring situations; we probably should have had 30+ before halftime. Still, this offense has come a long way from the first half of the Bengals game to now. B+ I like the fourth down decisions. Maybe had chances for a couple more, but the game was well in pocket. No need for timeouts. Overall, the adjustments that have been made in the last month have been excellent, and my concerns that were developing about Pagano are less bothersome (though some of them still exist.) None of that mattered in this game, though. Good job. A Game balls: TY Hilton, despite being focused on, set career highs in yards and receptions, and finished the year with 80+ catches and 1,000+ yards. Congrats, young man. Make it happen next week. Robert Mathis, as the sole pass rush threat on this team, tallied 2 sacks and another three or four pressures. And that sums up the entire season for him, as he's been the prime focus of the other teams' offense and has still terrorized quarterbacks relentlessly. Robert Mathis is THE MAN. Playoffs, everybody! Hosting the Chiefs on a short week. Should be a very different kind of game than what we saw last week in KC. They'll be healthy and well rested, and will bring their best effort. I'm looking forward to it. GO COLTS!!!
  4. Yeah, this was a nice one. I might even give out an A this week... Let me know what you guys think. Box score Week 3 grades Offense, B: 70 plays, 437 yards, 26 first downs (16 passing, 8 rushing, 2 from penalty), 6/13 on third down, 2/5 in the red zone, 1 turnover, 30 points; again dominated time of possession, but I felt like we left a lot of opportunities on the field QB: Started off shaky, very shaky. He wasn't on the same page with his receivers, leading to two picked off passes (one waived off due to penalty, but he insisted on giving them the ball and threw another one). Not his fault entirely, but his fault. Not only that, but the quality of several throws was just not good. Overthrew Hilton in the middle of the field on a crossing route that would have led to big YAC. Then he settled in, started clicking with Reggie, got some open receivers and nailed the throws, and took off and ran a couple of times as well. Continued making plays in the second half to help nail the game down. I liked the way he navigated the pocket in this game, moving around, climbing up to make strong throws, etc., and we got him outside on some rollouts, and he looked good throwing on the run. Against a better team, we might have been in a hole early because of the rough start. Got to tighten that up. B Backs / receivers / tight ends: Nice job, but slightly unfulfilled. Reggie led the way again, but Hilton and DHB were very complementary. A couple of "drops" by Reggie that would have been really nice catches (and not really drops, just tough grabs that got knocked out by defenders). DHB had a chance at a touchdown ball from Hasselbeck late in the game, and a more polished receiver would have reeled it in. Fleener was wide open for the TD, just bad zone coverage. He made a great catch later in the game, holding on even after getting popped. Another nice game from him. Richardson got the bulk of the work on the ground, and didn't earn much, vulturing a TD from a yard out. But the defense was really loading up, and the Jags were playing fast to the outside to keep him from turning the corner. He also had the fumble, but was bailed out on the inadvertent whistle. Brown's big run was awesome; he even ran over a couple of defenders. Our skill guys played well, but the miscues with the quarterback and a couple of missed opportunities drop this grade just a little. There was potential for a big time offensive explosion, and I know we scored 37 points, but the offense seemed to leave a few opportunities on the field. B OL / blocking: Came down a little, in my opinion. Against a defensive front of questionable quality, we seemed to get overpowered in the middle, and beat to the outside. The sweeps and tosses kept getting blown up by one defender, the lead blockers were getting dominated, and backs didn't have any room to operate. The 3rd and short was frustrating; the line got no push. There were a few lanes that we opened up, and the backs made the most of them, and a couple of our better runs got wiped out by penalty, which was annoying, but the effort was there, just spotty. Pass protection was pretty good, but the Jags don't really have any pass rushers. One sack came on a great rush up the middle, I think Linkenbach got beat, and the other came where the linebacker ran right by the tackle, fullback and runningback, and no one did anything to stop him. Still a work in progress, but the line is showing promise, and this is with two starters out. B- Defense, A: 54 plays, 205 yards, 14 first downs (10 passing, 0 rushing, 4 from penalty), 2/11 on third down, 0/1 on fourth down, 0/1 in the red zone, three turnovers, 3 points (off of a turnover; not their fault, but let a drive get deep into the red zone later on, and stopped it on fourth down, so it's a wash) Defensive front: Nothing to complain about. Gave up 30 yards on 18 carries, and the longest run was 6 yards. Pretty much no mistakes, leaving no air for their ball carriers. Five tackles for loss. Harassed Gabbert from start to finish, 9 hits, 4 sacks, two passes batted... Just an excellent outing for the defensive front. Mathis is on a tear. The penetration up the middle was incessant on passing downs. We shut down the outside, for the most part. We've got to play with this kind of intensity and discipline next week against the Seahawks. A Pass defense: A couple of missed opportunities in coverage, and a little bit questionable tackling. But we were flying to the ball, smothered receivers, forced turnovers, and just wrecked practically anything the Jags tried to do. No real letdowns, but the two longer catch and runs bugged me. I guess it happens, and given that it was later in the game it's not a big deal. The penalties were more of a problem. The defense kept the Jags out of scoring range until that late drive, then shut them down in the red zone. Overall, really good job. Again, have to duplicate the effort and discipline next week. A- Special teams: Nothing in the return game, but didn't give up anything on the other side. The punting was good, AV was 3/3. Nice job. Give us some field position on some returns, and I'll be happy. A- Coaching / playcalling, B: Pep's play calling is hard to understand sometimes. I don't get the decision to throw three times in a row on the goalline. I don't get some of the other third down calls. I don't get working so hard to establish a power running game, then throwing the ball 16 out of 19 plays to start the game. If we want to be balanced, I think that balance has to be present throughout the game, not just on the final tally sheet. I like the passing concepts, for the most part, and we ran some play action from the heavy sets and it worked. Got Fleener open a little more. But I hope that as the season goes on, Pep's playcalling settles in a bit. C+ Manusky could do no wrong in this one. The blitzes got home, the pressure up the middle was good, the coverage seemed to be in the right spot all game, and almost every possession the Jags had was a short one. I'd like to see this against a better opponent, but I have no complaints about the defensive gameplan or the way the players were used. A Game management wasn't really tested. No timeout issues, no challenges, nothing. We could have tried to quicksnap it on the Reggie catch that was overturned, but that's something Luck has to be on top of. With a young QB, I don't think I'd pull him. INC Game ball, offense: Andrew Luck. Not a great game, but he finished 15/20 after gutting out the tough start. Earned himself an early yank. Game ball, defense: Robert Mathis. Enough about whether he needs Freeney on the other side of him. This guy is a monster, at end, Sam backer, Rush backer, whatever you want. I've said it a hundred times, and I'll say it a hundred more: I'm so glad he stayed. Big showdown in LOS this Sunday, against the 4-0 Seahawks. I hope our boys are up to the challenge.
  5. http://espn.go.com/n...923011&period=0 Offense, C+ -- 75 plays, 437 yards, one turnover, 23 first downs (15 passing, 6 rushing, 2 penalties), 10/19 on third down, 17 points QB: Is the weight of the world on my shoulders? I think Luck played a really good game, and it goes beyond his passing stats, which were good aside from the pick and the 23 other incompletions (seriously, that's a lot of incompletions in one game). I like that he got out on the move and hurt the Jags with his legs, repeatedly, and averaged over 12 yards per rush. I really think he can be more effective in his passing by actually running more, which will give the defense one more wrinkle to worry about. I like that he kept his eyes downfield when the pocket collapsed and made several good throws under duress. But, as I already said, he threw 24 passes that didn't get home. Not all his fault: there were drops, he got hit on a couple, a couple had to go out of bounds, etc. But 47.8% is a Curtis Painter-type of completion rate. And the pick was a HUGE mistake (he's on pace for 21 interceptions this season). The pick that got called off was ... fortuitous. Better judgment might have prevailed there on 3rd down, but we got the call. I like the way he controlled the game, remained composed, and drove us down for a(nother) go ahead score with less than a minute to play. He did it twice in this game, plus a scoring drive at the end of the first half. He did it last week, and at the end of the half. He had us in scoring position at the end of the half in the opener (undone by a missed FG). There was a graphic up at the end of the game about how Luck runs the two-minute offense, and it's doggone brilliance is what it is. Even the final desperation possession, he and Hilton hook up on third down for a 36 yarder, and we're at the 26 yard line (greatly aided by the strong kickoff return, but still). He's stronger in the two-minute, and that's most decidedly NOT reminiscent of Curtis Painter. We can only ask the rookie to do so much. B- Receivers and backs: Much better than Week 3 last year Every opportunity counts for a young and challenged team, so dropped passes are particularly painful to see. Now that that's out of the way, I felt good about how our backs and receivers played in this one. Reggie has some of the best hands in the league, and makes plays. Period. No wonder he gets targeted so much. It was awesome to see Hilton get in the act, and his speed is going to be a huge weapon in this league. Unfortunately, he'll probably be getting a lot more burn now, with Collie out for the year. This really hurts me, as a big Austin Collie fan. But I'm also a big TY fan, so let's hope he continues playing well. But, still, too many drops, all the way around. I got on Luck for 24 incompletions, but a significant portion of those go to the receivers in this one. The backs did a serviceable job for the most part. Brown's catch and run was a well-designed and well-executed play, and it shows how he can be a weapon if we use him sensibly. Still not a lot of actual production from the ground game, outside of the quarterback, but there was improvement. I'd like to see more touches for Vick Ballard. I see big things in the future for our receiving corps, and I think that will help the run game. B- Offensive line / blocking: It's not you, it's me. Still just not good enough. Injuries suck, but we can't blame this on injuries. On a positive note, we were better than the past two weeks. And I also think that the bye week will help us with Satele and hopefully Reitz getting back on the field and being closer to 100%. For the first week, there were no sacks, but most of the credit for that goes to Luck and his artistry in avoiding and outrunning the rush. We also got more push in the run game, and even created a good amount of decent gains on the ground. The run game was serviceable in the second half, and we were ::thisclose:: to converting on the 3rd and 8 before AV's made field goal, which would have effectively ended the game. That would have been a major accomplishment for a beleaguered unit. But still, too much pressure, a few mistakes in blown assignments and penalties, and a mostly underwhelming performance run blocking in crucial situations. I'll take solace in the improvement from the last two weeks, but I hope for more... a lot more. C- Defense, C+ -- 54 plays, 333 yards, zero turnovers, 15 first downs (3 passing, 10 rushing, 2 penalties), 4/13 on third down, 22 points Defensive front: Baby steps We gave up 185 yards on the ground for an average of 5.8 yards per carry, yet, I feel we did an okay job keeping MJD in check. With the exception, of course, of the long touchdown. I think we just took a couple of bad angles, but the play was well executed by the Jags. Their back is really good, and their gameplan obviously centers around giving him the ball. They even gashed us a couple of times, 12 yards here, 19 yards there, 8 yards here again, but we made good adjustments and got them off the field. There also was a good deal of uncalled holding by their offensive line, but Colts fans are used to that. Better tackling would help, also, but that's a recurrent theme for us as well, especially against MJD. Then, there was the sack on third down to quell the scoring threat, and oh by the way, is Robert Mathis going to have a sack in every game this season??? The man is on a mission, and I'm more glad he stayed every week. There's a lot of improving to do here, but I see the promise. Stay in our lanes a little better, hold the edge, wrap up and tackle more effectively, and I think, not only would we have prevented the touchdown run, but we probably could have cut MJD's production down by about 40% otherwise. C+ Pass defense: One mistake To me, this is easy. One blown coverage, and we lose the game. Other than that, the pass defense was stellar. And that's not that tall of a task against Blaine Gabbert, but we saw the secondary give up a lot of completions last week, and then held this offense to single-digits for practically the entire game. Until... The Jags obviously wanted to ride the run game, and that worked to an extent, but when it was time for them to make a play with the pass, they did, and we let them. It's disappointing, but I'm not discouraged. The past two weeks, our defensive backs have been in good position, they've tackled well, and they've been aggressive when the ball is in the air. I don't even mind the penalties, because that means we're challenging receivers, which is totally different from what we saw the past two years (really more than that). But, yeah, got to avoid the big play in the big spot. Totally ruined what would have otherwise been almost a perfect grade. B Special teams: Disappointed We didn't do anything wrong in coverage, the punting was great, we even got a couple of good returns, including the one at the end that really helped us get close to a score. This is probably the best special teams outing we've had in a long, long time. And then, our most reliable special teams player, the most clutch kicker in the NFL, misses a go-ahead field goal with less than five minutes to go, greatly influencing the rest of the game. Last week, Vinatieri deserved his own high grade, but this week, he's dragging it down. And even though he made the next one, it almost missed, too! It would be nice to not make these kind of mistakes in winnable home games. Alas... B+ Coaching: Who are we? For the second week in a row, we blew a lead in the second half. To be honest, I don't think it was the fault of the coaching staff, and, unlike others, I don't agree that the offensive gameplan was too conservative in the second half. I think we were undone by two mistakes on defense, one mistake on offense, and one mistake on special teams. Still, 19-3 in the second half. At home. Against one of the least effective passers in the league. Hard to ignore that. I think Arians made an effort, not only to put the ball in Luck's hands, but also of helping him salvage gains out of broken plays. Luck demonstrated a great willingness to throw the ball quickly, and to run with it, and I think (read: hope) that was a point of emphasis in the gameplan. Maybe we should keep the offense running at a faster pace for certain stretches, given how well we do in two-minute situations. Defensively, I think Manusky did a decent job. We should probably get our safeties a little more involved, but I understand being cautious as well. I like the adjustments we made once their offense got into scoring position; we shut down several drives and held them to field goals or forced punts. We were stout on third down. And I don't fault the playcalling for the touchdowns, either of them. But still, 19-3 in the second half. At home. Against one of the least effective passers in the league. There's no ignoring those facts. The decision to run at the end was the right decision. Maybe a bootleg on second down might have changed the situation a little, but getting their timeouts was super important. It just wound up not mattering because we blew the coverage. Not too much to complain about, but it sucks giving up a two score lead at home. B- Bring on the bye. GO COLTS!
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