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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!!!
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!!!
Grades on the way, but what did everyone else think? Quarterback -- Offensive line -- Receivers / backs / tight ends -- Defensive front (run stopping and pass rush) -- Pass defense -- Special teams -- Coaching -- Also, who does the game ball go to?