While I am sure the Colts performance in the Lions game is not what many people were hoping for, what with all the build-up associated with the "third preseason game," don't fret too much. Overall the first team offense looked pretty scary. Peyton looks good. Dallas looks great. Austin Collie is still solid. Addai and Brown both look ready to go. Charlie Johnson is doing a serviceable job at LT. Things look pretty good for the regular season. Defensively, there were never more than 4 starters on defense on the field at any given time. If you think it looked bad, sloppy from time to time, it's because it was. That said, when Brackett returns, Ed Johnson plays, Mathis is on the field, our entire starting secondary plays together, things will look vastly different. There were some players who were disappointing as well. This post will break that down.
Who Looked Good?
Silva continues to be a guy who is always around the football. No matter what role you put him in, even if he's returning punts. He may not be a stud, in the sense that he's shown real game-changing or game-breaking ability to this point. He is, however, a solid player who can contribute to the team whenever he is on the field.
Gets into the backfield to stop a run play for no gain. Stops another run off of left tackle through a full back. Looks to be picking up where he left off last year.
Special teams tackle to start the game. The interception was a solid play. Powers stuck with his man tight, fought off of a push-off by the receiver, collected himself and stayed focused on the ball, coming back to make the interception. Very solid defensive play.
Mike Tauiliili -
Mr. T owned the 4th quarter. He wreaked havoc in the Lions running lanes. He was primarily responsible for the goal line stand which caused the Lions to turn the ball over on downs. He stuffed the runner two downs in a row in order to achieve this feat. Beyond that, the guy is quick, hits hard, is all over the field, looks like a promising special teams performer. I like him, I hope he makes the roster, and if it were between Tauiliili and Keiaho for the last roster spot it would be a no brainer for me. Hello Mr. T. Freddy... it's KO for you buddy.
Continues to be a freak. Quick to the ball, disrupts running lanes. Hits ball carriers hard. To this point in the preseason he looks like a very solid linebacker in the making. I predict he leads the team in tackles.
In on special teams plays. Also looked really good playing the running lanes, in on a number of tackles at or near the line of scrimmage against the run. One heads up play was near the end of the first quarter when the Lions were within 6 yards of a touchdown, Kevin Smith ran off of RT and Hagler fought off of a blocker to stiff Smith for a short gain.
Howard is greased lightning. Right now he's the fastest DE on the team. This guy is going to be a real stud. I look forward to seeing him get more opportunities this year.
Run stop up the gut for a short gain. Another thing Thomas does well is, even when not making the tackle, he holds his blocker in the hole, redirecting the play. When that happens, as it did late in the first quarter, it allows others to swarm to the football and stop the player for a short gain. On the very next play the tackle attempts to seal Josh Thomas for a run off the left guard but Thomas holds him there enough to get an arm on the runner which stopped what would have otherwise been a sure touchdown.
Did not get a whole lot of time on the field. However, while he was on the field he stuffed a run for no gain. A lot of fans gave Fili Moala credit for the stop. However, Moala was just "in the right place at the right time" to "receive" the ball carrier who was in the middle of going to the ground because Grade penetrated, filled the whole, and wrapped him up. Plays with great leverage as well. Late in the 3rd quarter he came back in the game and on the opening run play stood up the line and was in on the tackle, stopping the run for no gain. He also had the ability to really get some penetration late in the third quarter and early in the 4th on a couple of passing downs. He didn't get to the quarterback but he rely owned the blocker, getting by them or pushing them backward into the pocket. Remember that goal line stand that Mike T made, many of us were excited about it. Before he had the opportunity to make that play the Lions attempted a run off of the left side of the offense but that play was redirected by Adrian Grady, who pushed the Center back into the running lane and forced the running back to the offensive weak side where the defense cleaned things up. Another nice play that you wouldn't catch if you didn't look really close. By the way, on the 4th down attempt, the runner had no chance at making a second push because Grady forced the Center right into the lane the runner was trying to find. Tauiliili is responsible for the tackle, but the back had a wall in front of him even if he wanted to make a second effort.
Penetrates and stops a run play to the left for a loss. In on another run stop for a short gain, an arm tackle on a run to the right. Another run stop for a short gain, coming across the offensive line laterally to stop the runner in the other tackle's hole.
Austin Collie -
Once again, the story with Collie is that he is reliable. He catches pretty much everything that is thrown to him, he's field aware, and he has a knack for finding the open spots in the defense. These things typify what the Colts look for from a slot receiver. He could very well develop into a dangerous receiving option for the Colts as the season progresses.
For the first time, Garcon managed to not drop a pass that was right in his hands. On top of that, he managed to show the deep threat which we were promised from those who had an opportunity to see him practice during training camp. He should have just turned on the after-burners and ran down the sideline on his reception, he would have gotten more yard and potentially went in for a score, but all things considered it was his best game and gives fans reason to think he could be a legitimate back-up for us.
Santi look really good. He caught the ball, ran with it well, and looked like the player we saw from last year who made me feel the TE position showed a lot of promise. He can even block going downfield, which is not something Tamme excels at doing. All that could be for naught if his knee injury keeps him out for extended time again. Let's hope for the best. Of the back-up TEs, Santi is the one who I feel has the most upside as a pure TE. As a pure receiving TE, Tamme has the most upside clearly.
Obviously this is a guy who needs no introduction. We all know how capable Clark is and that he's coming off of the best statistical season of his career. What he showed against the Lions is that he is an absolute stud. When Clark is on the field, Manning is a happy man. These two have something really special going.
Addai has really displayed the kind of quickness he lacked all of last season. While I think Brown is faster than Addai, Joseph seems to have his speed back and that's what he needs to be effective with the ball in his hands. The last couple of games he has really started to give Colts fans their confidence back in his abilities. We have a legitimate RB tandem folks. Watch out.
Donald Brown is very fast. Quick to the hole. Quick through the hole. Small through the hole. He feels pressure and tackles coming before he gets there and finds a way to get an extra two or ten yards every time he touches the ball. If he can keep this up he'll lead the team in rushing yards and might surpass Addai's rookie season rushing totals.
I would be shocked if there were too many Colts fans who haven't been pleasantly surprised by Painter. For a young player to come into the Colts offense, be forced into extensive playing time due to Sorgi's injury, and play as solidly as he has is impressive. He looks pretty comfortable in the pocket. He has a strong arm. He makes pretty solid decisions most of the time. He seems to have good timing with his receivers. All in all, Painter looks like a legitimate back-up QB in the NFL, which is saying something for a team who hasn't had one of those for the better part of a decade. I look forward to his continued development. At this rate Sorgi will need to start thinking about his career options, no later than next year.
DeVan looked very good when he stepped in with the first team offensive line, replacing Jamey Richard. When he entered the game our run blocking and pass blocking improved. At this point, I believe DeVan has made a strong case for being the primary back-up for the starters on the interior of the defensive line. He wouldn't scare me starting either, if Pollak struggles.
Charlie Johnson -
People love to complain about the offensive line. I know. No they don't look perfect. But this guy deserves some props. A few weeks ago he was named the starting LT. Not a single Colts fan that I know responded to this news with a "hell yeah!" Charlie Johnson is a stud and the real solution we've been looking for at LT. Since that time he's done a solid job at LT, all things considered. Against the Lions he played nearly flawless. If he can play in every game the way he did in Detroit, I'm happy with Johnson as our LT. Can't believe it? I understand. Just watch the tape.
Has shown some consistency getting the directional and short yardage punts within the 20 yard line. His punts go very high and allow coverage to get under them quickly. This results in a lot of fair catches or punts dropping to the turf. Pair this with his powerful leg for long punts and his abilities as a holder and you have to be happy with this pick-up.
This is unfortunate to see. Matthews did all that he was asked to do in the first two preseason games and had the opportunity to solidify his impression with the organization in the Lions game that they should consider keeping him around as the 5th receiver, should the Colts choose to keep five. With that back-drop, dropping two passes, including one which was deflected into the air for an interception is not encouraging. He now can probably only hope for a practice squad spot and will need to show more of what he did in games 1 and 2 next week if he hopes to have a shot at even that.
I could pick out positive things most of the interior defensive linemen did during the course of the game. With Johnson, however, it seems like he got man-handled pretty regularly and didn't generate a great deal of push in pass rushing situations either. In fact, the weakest DL tandem I could identify on the day was Johnson and Moala.
Regularly getting man-handled by the defensive end on his side. Allowing pressure to close in on Manning many times. Even sketchy in run blocking to start the 2nd quarter. More struggles against his man in the early 3rd quarter with the first unit in pass protection. (wonder if Ugoh would work here)
At this point I would think that Justice is the third string C at best and very low on the depth chart at guard. He may be gone. He has really struggled. It's disappointing. Who was primarily responsible for the Chad Simpson loss of yard after his "impressive" 9 yard gain? Primarily Steve Justice is who allowed his man to drag him down the line before he engaged Simpson and kept him from turning the corner. Then later in the 4th quarter, remember when we had a 3rd and 5, down one point with the ball... we failed to convert and had to punt the ball away. Steve Justice was playing RG and missed a key block to give Painter more time, which resulted in a rushed throw short in the middle of the field.
Others Worth Noting:
First Team Offensive Line - Outside of Diem, the others did great except for missing the stunt blitz early in the 2nd quarter. In fact, Charlie Johnson was outstanding. Run blocking was messy in the first half but then again, very little running occurred. When they went to the ground in the 3rd quarter they ran the ball very well.
Tony Ugoh - Look much more comfortable playing at RT than he has at LT. I still agree with others who've suggested that maybe he should be looked at as a guard. He could potentially push Pollak for the starting RG spot I would imagine. Still, it's good to see him looking competent on the field at RT too.