Welcome to this week's Devil's Take! The Colts won yesterday by a score of 19-13, over the Tennessee Titans. This was a good overall game, with some shaky aspects along the way. Still, the Colts buttoned down and got the win when the game was on the line. It's nice to be sitting here at 4-3.
Now, in last weeks article, I pretty much blasted the Colts defense for lack of effort and hustle. Some of you felt I was way off base, while others were in agreement with my view point. Bottom line for me was that I was not happy with how the defense played. Part of that to be fair, was directed at the defensive coordinator. Multiple times the defense lined up in obvious blitz packages and they were routinely picked up. So another week, against another average team, how would the Colts defense play? We'll get to that in a minute.
- Andrew Luck - Broke away from his form over the past two games and returned to the guy we saw in much of the other games this season. He's currently just shy of 2000 yards through 7 games, and made the kind of veteran decisions you wouldn't expect from a rookie QB on multiple plays through out the game. Still, he needs to work more on getting his head on a swivel a bit sooner, as he's leaving himself open to unnecessary hits and drive changing sacks.
- Ground game - Two games in a row against bad rushing defenses equals two weeks of high rushing output by the Colts ground game. While I'm not going to go overboard and say the Colts rushing attack is back, it's good to see them finally making bad defenses pay. The last few years, it didn't matter who we played, we rarely had a 100 yards on the ground ever. To have it in 2 games back to back, and 4 of the last 5, is a good thing for the Colts.
- Pass Rush - I get that Mathis is out, Redding and Teveasu have been out, and Freeney is hobbled, but the problem for the Colts right now is merely getting a hand on a QB. Since bulldozing Aaron Rodgers for 5 sacks in the 2nd of the Green Bay game, the Colts have managed just 3 sacks in 3 games. The irony of course is that Jerry Hughes accounts for 2 of those sacks. At the end of the day, the Colts need to get more production out of both their D-Line and their LB's for more pressure on the QB.
- Pass Interference - One of the first times I've seen that many calls for Offensive Pass Interference on a single team in a single game. Still, while one of them may have been a great flop job by Powers, all 3 of them were correctly called. You cannot push off a player to get position. Bottom line, the refs are paying attention to this kind of thing.
So about that defense... yeah, still needs some serious work. You can say well we held them to 13 points. We held the Browns to 13 points last week too. The fact that we held them to 13 points is irrelevant. They ran the ball just well enough while they routinely found holes in the middle of the defense due to almost no pressure on the QB. Here's what I see:
- Browns generated 264 yards passing, gaining 14 first downs through the air, and averaging almost 6 and a half yards per throw. Titans generated 227 yards passing, gaining 11 first downs through the air, and averaging a little over 7 yards per throw.
- Browns and Titans both failed to really get the run game going in terms of consistency, but in the passing game, were able to move up and down the field.
Now sure, you'll say well they only scored 13 points. We played two of the bottom 12 worst offenses in the NFL. Ironically, we beat both those teams while losing to the absolute worst offense in the league. If that doesn't tell you there's something wrong with the defense, then I don't know what to tell you.
There is however, light on the horizon. Part of the bad play has come from injuries, injuries that are now starting to heal up (Mathis, Redding). Some is coming from obvious position changes (Nevis starting over Moala anyone?) as well as possible sightings of Chapman on the practice field. Angerer has returned and looks great through 2 games. All of this is one positive aspect to take into consideration. The other? Fire the DC already. I mean seriously, I am seeing almost no effort on the play calling for the defense. I'm constantly seeing blatant blitz calls and soft disguises on the defensive front.
What's worse, is the lack of pressure from the line is leaving the DB's on islands that you can't expect them to cover for 5-8 seconds. The lack of real pressure, in the form of hits, hurries, and sacks, is making our DB's look really bad. Some of it is bad play, but more of it is the lack of pressure.
I'm sorry, but I really lay the issues on defense at Manusky's feet. This is his responsibility, and I just don't see how this defense should be this bad. Injuries have played a role to some extent, but not all of it is the players.
It was very refreshing to see the Colts able to run the ball for a second week of solid running. While I'm not sold on the running game resurgence, I'm glad to see the Colts finally taking advantage of other team's weaknesses. In the past few years, even when the Colts faced bad run defenses, those defenses would somehow come up with a Herculean effort to keep the Colts from running the ball. To see the Colts gash the Jags, Packers, Browns, and Titans like they did, it was a very big deal. The Colts have not produced this kind of run game effort in several years. In fact, the Colts are on pace to produce their best rushing totals since 2007, besting even last year's efforts.
Back during the offseason, I mentioned that Donald Brown had the chance to run behind what is arguably the best O-Line the Colts have had running the ball since back when Edge was here. While it's taken some time, both due to Arian's play calling and some injuries, it looks like that comment is slowly but surely starting to bear fruit. The big thing is going to be the continued development of Luck, and how much he can force the opposing defenses to honor him in the passing game. If the Colts can do that, this rushing attack could be legit.
Before I go, I do want to say that while I am a homer for my team, I felt that the fumble by Allen should have been ruled a fumble. The Colts caught a break, and unfortunately for the Titans, it's one that can't be reviewed. I've seen nothing that shows or can prove that they whistled him down due to forward progress. Still, sometimes we get screwed, and sometimes we are the lucky ones....
Thanks for the read and hope to hear your comments! Follow me on Twitter @DevilsReject97