Welcome to the Devil's Take, Week Seven Edition!
Normally, this is posted by Sunday night, but I really wanted to sit back and digest Indianapolis' 17-13 Week Seven win over Cleveland.
I was very, very upset with the performance of this team. To be blunt, they played like crap.
Now to be fair, the first 20 minutes of the game, the Colts offense was pretty much on fire. They made the plays they should make, and sustained long drives on their first two possessions. However, after that, they pretty much crumpled. As for the defense, well let's just say yours truly could have run for what the Browns gained on the ground.
To be perfectly honest, the Colts defense played their worst game of the season in my opinion.
So why do I feel that way?
Sure, the Colts had a few guys out on defense, but it has been that way for most of the year now. There are only two reasons the defense is this bad, and those are halfhearted effort and poor coaching. Sure, injuries do play into it some, but hard fought effort can overcome those injuries to a degree. I'm not even seeing that out on the field.
- The Colts out rushed an opponent for the first time this season, gaining 148 yards of offense rushing. They finally had someone not named Donald Brown gain 50 yards or more rushing from a RB position for the first time since 2010.
- The Colts held their opponent from rushing for at least 100 yards for only the 3rd time this season. Unfortunately, only 2 of those games resulted in a win for the Colts. The first game, resulted in a blow out through the air that skewed the ground game. However, the Colts are capable of hanging in with any team as long as they can stop the run consistently. The key word is consistently.
- For the 2nd week in a row, Luck has looked bad, and it's not just him. The offense has flowed and faltered in very wide spurts, and that is something I think is indicative of Arians playcalling. While Arians is a very good offensive coordinator, I think he is still trying entirely too hard to not screw it up. He's shown a willingness to throw caution to the wind at times, but I think for this season, you need to just go all out. The Colts are going to basically live and die on his arm, and until the Colts show that they can punch back, teams are going to be content with sitting back and letting him throw.
- What's with the blatant missing of the facemasks lately? I saw two plays that the Colts should have gotten a first down on due to facemasks that were not called. One on a RB, quite blatant actually, and another was on a WR. In both cases, the Colts would have been given new downs. Instead, they punted or were forced into bad down and yard situations. Adding insult to injury, the refs/Colts missed a dropped pass by the Browns on their first offensive possession after the half. The player did not maintain possession of the ball as he went to the ground and you can clearly see it come out as he rolls. While I never got a clear shot of the other side, how this wasn't at least challenged is beyond me.
- The Colts defensive backfield is catching a ton of hell right now, but the truth is it's not their fault. The Colts front line is not getting any real push, and is rarely getting to the QB with any consistency. I mean seriously, we failed to so much as sack the QB in the Browns game, but we could kill Rodgers 5 times? The DB's are doing for the most part, the best any one can ask of them. They screw up yes, but most of it's because they aren't getting the help up front.
- Can we telegraph our blitzes any more than we do right now? OMG I was like here's one, here's another, here's a fourth.... Either commit to a real 4-3 for now, or stop giving away the defense....it's 10 times worse than the offense telegraphing run...
148 yards rushing, that is a number the Colts haven't seen in about two years. In fact, it's only like the 3rd or 4th game of over 125 yards rushing by the Colts since 2009! That's pretty amazing if you ask me.
But - of course, there's a but - this was a team the Colts should have put that number up on. The Browns rushing defense is one number better than the Colts, and they are a slightly worse passing defense. This was a game where if the Colts didn't gain at least 100 yards, then it was a true indictment on the backs.
- While at times both Delone Carter and Vick Ballard played very well, I still didn't see anything that screamed to me that they should be starting. Ballard did play strong through out however, and he's shown that if he can get a consistent line in front of him, he could play at a high level in the NFL. Carter has already shown these flashes, but he needs to stay healthy to keep showing it.
- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has amassed almost 1700 yards in 6 games, despite two very bad showings by him. The Colts need one more decent lineman on offense, and they could really be something. Perhaps the return of Joe Reitz at LG will make a difference, because it was obvious last year in the running game. Still, we need one more guy on that line to really start picking it up, or find one in free agency/draft.
- As mentioned by a few of you, Luck's accuracy is clearly a factor for this team. He's missed on several wide open passes, thrown out of bounds on others, and in some cases, just a WTF was he thinking throw. In almost all of these instances however, it's a case of growing pains. For every great moment he has, he's had several meh or cover your eyes moments. It's normal and natural. He's the most touted QB in the history of the NFL, and so far, he has shown he's worthy of it. I guess the point of this is to remember that unlike many other rookies in the last few seasons, he's come to a team with no identity, no direction, and pretty much a nobody roster outside of a few veterans. Let's give him the time to continue learning, and make his mistakes. Trust me, this is a team that could be great in a hurry next year on offense. Patience people...patience
Before I depart, I want to address the few comments about the running game from this win. The Colts ran the ball effectively on a team they should have physically been able to do so. The Browns have had trouble stopping the run all year. Sound familiar? The Browns have had two games all year where the opponent was kept under 100 yards, both of them against the Bengals. They went 1-1 in those games. Their remaining 5? They gave up 630 yards, 243 of it to the Giants. What am I saying? Don't get carried away with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It's not the team turning the corner. It's simply the Colts running the ball on a team they should have run the ball on, and actually doing it for once.
I also have noticed something else about the Colts running game. All three Colts RBs have routinely run into their linemen during their runs. I saw this a lot last year with DB, but I also saw it with Carter as well. Now you are probably saying well yeah, our o-line sucks. This is indeed part of the problem. However, it's also the system. Donald Brown is a one cut back, the kind Mike Shanahan loved in Denver and still loves in Washington. They ran a beautiful rushing attack that's still pretty much in use in Denver still. Get the line moving, make a hole, and let the RB make it work. Brown is that kind of back. However, the Colts are a type of offensive line that can't do that. It's a matter of skill as well as personnel.
So this season and much of last year, they've been an offensive line that is trying to let the play develop, let the back find the hole. The problem with that is DB often outruns the line, and fails to find a gap. This is why Carter and Ballard have been better and have seemed more patient, more capable. However, it's when the holes are not there, that DB's speed to the outside, on sweeps and play action, makes him so much more dangerous. I ask you to start watching the line play when the ball is being run. You'll pretty much see that the Ballard/Carter are not finding those holes on the outside when they are there. Still, it's only a small sample size for me to be 100% certain on. Just think on it and keep an eye out for it...
Thanks as always and follow me on Twitter @DevilsReject97