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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!!!
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.