First, I am sure a lot of folks are really down about the home opener in our new stadium. Clearly there was a lot of sloppy play and quite a few reasons to be frustrated. However, I will briefly mention who I thought played well and who I thought did not.
Who Looked Good?
Bob Sanders - The beast is back and he is on a mission.
Jamie Silva - This kid continues to make plays. Whether he's breaking up passes, blocking for returners, making tackles with authority or bailing out defenders in front of him who were out of position or failed to make the play... he gets the job done. I can't remember a time tonight or this preseason that I have noticed Silva for a mistake he's made, a play he's missed or simply not doing what he's been asked to do.
Melvin Bullitt - It was a solid return for Bullitt and he looked really fast.
Tim Jennings - Jennings did a really nice job in coverage tonight playing in Hayden's spot. Sticking a hand in to break a pass away, closing on receivers quickly to stop them for little or no gain... he did what corners are supposed to do.
Keiwan Ratliff - I thought Ratliff had another impressive game. He sticks tight to receivers and rarely takes himself out of a play or is out of position. I have been impressed by him much of this preseason.
Dante Hughes - Hughes continues to impress and should be a lock for the nickel position.
Kyle Shotwell - I saw Shotwell miss on one tackle when the runner adjusted and ran away from him. He shold not have left his feet as early as he did... I believe he could have made the play for no gain or a loss had he ran through the runner instead of jumping at him. Having said that, in every other aspect tonight he played really well. He consistently blocked running lanes, made at least one tackle for a loss on a run and made two special teams tackles. One of the tackles was all him and the other I believe was a result of his colleague Senn tripping up the returner.
Jordan Senn - Senn continued to play well tonight both on defense and on special teams. Senn and Shotwell play a very similar style. I could go either way on these guys if forced to keep only one for the final roster.
Victor Worsley - Worsely looked good tonight. We really haven't seen a whole lot out of Worsley until this game but I thought he played really well behind Brackett at the Mike.
Dwight Freeney - It was good to see the Fright on the field. He was active and did not seem slowed or hobbled in any way by his foot. Obviously he had few opportunties to get involved but anyone worried about Dwight not getting respect from opposing offenses should probably take tonight as a fair indication... they'll still be double or triple teaming Freeney.
Jeff Charleston - Charleston displayed quickness and got after the passer on a couple of occasion and made at least one good play against the run.
Ben Ishola - Not well enough to have a prayer at making the team but he was quick and also got after the QB on occasion.
Eric Foster - Foster looked good, getting penetration early and disrupting things. I am seeing more out of him and understand why he's valued on the interior of our defensive line.
Collin Ferrell - Ferrell had another nice game and showed something I had not seen previously. For a man his size, about 300 lbs., he is pretty quick. He was quicker tonight than I remember Pitcock ever being. Either way, he made some nice plays against the run and even found ways to penetrate and disrupt runners and the quarterback in the backfield.
Devin Aromashodu - The long TD was really all Aromashodu's making. Gray found him and hit him, though Aromashodu had to adjust to the ball. Still, it was getting separation and beating the defender with a good route to his inside shoulder tha that got him behind the defense and free for the touchdown with a long run after the catch. Oh, and by the way, if people didn't realize how fast Aromashodu is (runs around a 4.4 40) they had a chance to see it tonight. It was interesting to see him get a look as a kick returner as well and I thought his run back was decent.
Courtney Roby - Roby's return was exciting to watch. He seems to have a lot of heart and is definitely a hard player not to like. It would be great if we had the chance to see this loaded class of receivers have the opportunity to catch passes from Manning.
Gijon Robinson - I thought Robinson looked good tonight. He didn't do anything overly flashy but he did some nice things blocking, did get involved in the passing game and still looks like a tank that defenders struggle taking down. If we could get a guy like Robinson involved in the game early we could wear down the opposing team's secondary pretty quick.
Mike Hart - Hart played well. The offense was such a mess its difficult to believe anyone could but he made the most of his opportunities, continued to be the best blocker I've seen in our backfield since Edgerrin James and deserves a lot of credit for helping spring Roby by sealing off the coverage unit to the inside... giving Roby the lane to cut the ball back across the field. Not only did he lay the block, he let Roby know exactly where to go.
Peyton Manning - Manning was the star of the game for the Colts at Quarterback. It is clear that he came to the game prepared and showed the kind of sideline reactions you'd like to see at our offensive struggles. I bet he comes back with a chip on his shoulder. Additionally, despite all the rumors and the continued knee-gate drama fueled by a sports media who is trying to make preseason interesting, Manning looked good walking around the field and standing on the sideline. I didn't see noticeable favoring of one leg over the other or a limp of any kind. Both Polian and Dungy said that they believe his chances of returning for the Bears season opener are pretty good. Prior to tonight they really had seemed more unsure. Positive news with a visually positive look at Peyton one the field and the sidelines. He's working hard to get well and I think if there is not another setback we'll see him against the Bears.
I'll be honest, the most difficult thing for me to judge is offensive linemen. Primarily because, lets face it, most of the time the best indication that the offensive line is playing well is if you don't notice them at all. They seem to get "noticed" a great deal more when something bad happens. Like... Charlie Johnson probably was the player to receive the blame for the first sack of the game. Looked like a blitz up the middle on the right side of the line. If I'm wrong... sweet. That said, I really like Justice and Richard, Pollak has looked well, Advanced32 has naked pictures of Federkiel on the ceiling in his bedroom and if you know Advanced32 you have to know that is a clear indication that Federkiel must be doing something well. Ugoh played well tonight.
Lorenzen/Gray - I will temper my comments on Lorenzen with one comment, it is really difficult to play well when you have not had time to work with the unit you're playing with. Lorenzen's biggest problems were with underthrowing receivers. Wayne, Clark, Harrison and Gonzalez are a LOT faster and run better routes on every down than our talented reserves. So... in that way, some of the problem for our first team offense cna be understood. However, the only opinion I can remember the NFL Network all-star coverage team making was Faulk's opinion late in the game regarding Lorenzen and Gray. Neither of them have showed us before, or showed us tonight, that when they are called upon they will be effective backing up Manning. I suggest we cut both and bring in someone else. Maybe we make a decision soon on positions where we are really deep: RB, WR, S, CB, LB with young talent and get a Chris Simms (TB needs receivers) or some other QB who has what it takes. These two don't.
Joseph Addai - Addai didn't play poorly but I hope he got that fumble out of his system. That was bad.
Clifton Dawson - Sure the pass from Gray was not great but I think any of Addai, Rhodes or Hart could have made a better play on that ball and may have all brought it down and done something with it. I could be wrong but it is worth a mention.
Dallas Clark - I'm sure some of his struggles were a result of consistently having to reach back for passes thrown behind him... even the "easy" pass others have commented about to bring up the stale discussion about wearing gloves. He should have caught that pass and maybe another one I can remember but they were poorly thrown and had he caught them would have been considered impressive catches.
Pierre Garcon - Hours after being annointed Marvin Harrison's successor and the second coming of Jerry Rice, Garcon had a pretty crappy game. He did not play well returning the football and was never a factor in the passing game. I don't even know if he entered the game as a receiver. Maybe he didn't and if he had he would have been amazing but an impressive day, he did not have.
I can think of Diem allowing pentration on one occasion and the right side of the interior line allowing it a couple of times but don't recall much else that really stood out as a weakness or failure on the line.
Matt Giordano - The one thing I'll say about Giordano is that although I've really liked him over the last two years I've not really seen him do anything this preseason. If he's sat a lot so other players could have opportunties... so be it. I know he's fast on coverage teams and such but I've not seen him and tonight he suffered an injur of some kind. So... maybe he didn't play poorly... but his play throughout the preseason and now with the injury has been kind of disappointing.
Cornerback - I can't think of a particular corner who did something that jumped out at me. I will say this... I know we play a cover 2 zone defensive scheme but years previously we've not played a zone so loose that receivers exploit massive holes on a regular basis. I'm tired of watching receivers STOP in the middle of the zone and not get a single reaction out of members of our secondary until after the pass is on the way and we've already given up 5-15 yards.
Ramon Guzman - Guzman has defenders all over the place so maybe I'll get shot down by some who disagree with my assessment again but of all our linebackers tonight he seemed the least effective and least impressive. Meaning this - Session, Brackett, Worsley, Senn and Shotwell impressed me more than Guzman... and they impressed me more by a long shot.
I guess the least impressive of the defensive tackles was Dan Davis, though he made a couple of good plays in the game. Keyunta Dawson made a couple of nice plays early and may have come out very early. Clearly early in the game we were allowing the Bills to run on us too much and much of their runs were most effective off tackle. Which means, our ends were getting pushed out and tackles turned in or pushed out of the play too often. Again, in the mess that went on early it is really difficult for me to pick out exactly who played poorly or how often individuals made mistakes on the D-Line.
Much the same as DT for much of the game. I will say that Ishola is fast but not effective picking lanes or in pursuit most of the time. Josh Thomas made a stop on a run up the middle which probably would have gone for 10+ yards if he didn't make it after about 5 yards... however he again is not notable for his pass rush. If others have comments here, besides Advanced32 (over at Coltpower) telling us how much Josh Thomas sucks (it makes him feel better so it should be encouraged and expected), I would definitely like to hear it :)
Overall - crap game. Sloppy. But what we saw from some of our young/new guys is encouraging when you break it all down and think about how stacked the roster is probably going to be at every position but quarterback, and potentially defensive tackle depending on which people we cut and how we handle the Brock DE/DT game of musical chairs.