Oh, Jerry Hughes. Why did you have to suck so badly?
I'll reserve complete judgement on this until I see the All-22 tape (gets released on Tuesday), but it seems that, once again, Jerry Hughes has followed up a mildly pleasing performance against the Jaguars (one sack, two tackles) in Week 10 with a bed sh*tting effort against the Patriots in Week 11.
One tackle. One pass defended. That's all this guy did Sunday in Indy's 59-24 blowout loss to the Patriots in Foxborough. Ugh.
Yes, Jerry Hughes is a bust. Stop denying it, readers. Stop making comments that say we just need to "give him time." Just stop. Accept reality. We're in year three of Life with Jerry, and the former first rounder still cannot consistently rush the passer, defend the run, or even TACKLE on special teams.
The coup de grâce for Hughes Sunday occurred at the exact moment when the momentum of the game changed.
With 12:13 in the second quarter, and the Colts up 14-7, Pat McAfee booted a terrible, short punt in the direction of Patriots returner Julian Edelman. Edelman ran up, fielded the punt at roughly his team's 34 yard line, and then took off. After he got past the first wave, gunner Jerry Hughes could have tackled Julian Edelman at or near the 50 yard line. Hughes took a wrong angle, and Edelman kept running. To Hughes' credit, he didn't give up on the play (though, for my money, anyone who does give up on plays probably shouldn't be playing, period). Hughes followed behind Edelman, nearly caught up, and dove to make another tackle.
He missed. Edelman scored.
For all intents and purposes, the game ended right there.
The Patriots are not a great football team. However, if you spot them seven points on a cheap punt return, you're pretty much conceding the ballgame. You aren't winning in their house if you give up a punt return for a touchdown. The Colts never recovered from that momentum swing.
Adding to the disaster is the fact that Tom Brady was hardly touched all game by the Colts pass rush. On certain downs, the Colts featured a package that had Hughes, Robert Mathis, and Dwight Freeney on the field at the same time. Results?
Zero sacks. Zero. I counted one time where I saw Brady "pressured," and it was because of Freeney beating Nate Solder one-on-one.
Understand this, folks: The Colts ran for 119 yards, averaging 5 yards a carry. For much of the game, when it was still a contest and before Andrew Luck threw his second pick six, the Colts were stuffing the run as well. Offensively, the Colts were 57% on third down. What killed them?
- Bad special teams tackling
- A terrible punt by McAfee
- No pass rush!!!
The Patriots were 66% on third down, went 4-6 in the redzone scoring touchdowns, and threw for 331 yards and three scores. No picks. No fumbles. No turnovers.
Yes, it was seemingly a collective defensive choke job by everyone, Freeney and Mathis included. Again, I still need to look at the All-22, but no one player summed up the defensive woes greater than Hughes on Sunday. The game was a microcosm of his career in Indianapolis. Hughes is reportedly owed $870,000 in base salary next year and about $1 million in bonus money.
Don't look for Hughes to be in a Colts uniform next year, boys and girls.
He's not a starting caliber player. He's not even a good reserve rusher. Finding a young, premiere rusher to replace the aging Freeney (who is a free agent next year) and Mathis has to be priority No. 1 for Ryan Grigson in the offseason.
Hughes isn't the answer. Never was.