Thoughts on the SteGame after a third watch through:
Luck: this was the single best thing that could have happened to him. Picked twice, rebounded twice and clearly had the momentum going our way before the half. This is a champion in the making. We should all take a moment and just be so so so happy that you are getting to see this happen from the ground up. Regarding the first pick, in the first preseason game Luck threw the exact same route to TY on the outside and Jenoris Jenkis almost got his hand on it but didn’t. This time on the same route it looks like it was thrown to Taylor for the INT..why do you ask? All you have to do it look at Luck’s right foot. Brad posted an article months ago about how Luck has been working on planting his right leg and pushing/turning off of it to give him more power through his hips. It’s unnatural for him. He throws hard like a pitcher. He lets his body weight drive the ball not his leg strength and his right leg comes up as he follows through. The pick to Taylor happens because he’s getting a lot of pressure from the left side of the line as Anthony Costanzo is getting drilled back and in a momentary panic he wings it out to Reggie Wayne and his right foot come way off the ground. The throw is weak, off target and late = Pick 6. To be fair, Wayne messes up this route. He drifts upfield instead of cutting totally flat to the outside which gives Taylor the angle. However, a better throw would have at least given an incomplete instead of an INT.
What is AMAZING about this kid is that he realized instantly what happened. For the rest of the game that he’s in that right foot stays down and he pushes and turns off of it. That’s why the rest of the throws look like they have some much mustard on them...because they do. This kid has a gun on him if he just settles into his motion right. I think that out route to the side simply showed him that there is NO way he can get away with a lazy throw like that in the NFL. Starting corners are just way too good for that. What you will note is that his balls to the middle of the field look great. Perfect height, good zip and NOT dangerous. He’s just way too good a judge of the defense in open space. However, he has to become a believer in that right leg or he’ll throw picks to the side lines all day.
Donald Brown: You gotta believe. Great job blocking. Even better job running. Swear he almost...almost looks like a feature back. He looks calm cool and professional out there. He is way faster than we’d ever thought. His run around the right end showed that in space he can motor. We need to bring the stretch play back for him and stop asking him to pound the middle of the field like we have in the past. Not his strength. He needs room to get going and get gone.
Vick Ballard: THIS IS THE GUY! When he put that spin move off the back of his own blocker, stiff armed Ike Taylor and then got the first I swear I was watching LT in his prime. Thing of beauty. It takes a crazy amount of talent and bravery to spin there then instantly PAWN a tackler coming right at you. Even better, his running between the tackles was decisive and productive. A real threat. I thought he did a decent job in pass blocking as well. He is the clear number two back here. Can we see him catch? I fear he can’t...
Collie: Horrible. I’m a doctor and there are a few things worse than seeing someone really suffer with their health. I agree with Brad. He should retire. And do it now. The damage he’s already suffered is going to be with him and his kids forever. If I was Grigson or Pagano I would not feel right sending him back into the frey. He’s a liability to us and to the team. I love this guy to pieces. His loss maybe the most significant blow to our offense since Manning left.
T.Y Hilton: that INT was horrible. Not bad or terrible but HORRIBLE. Like would probably get most non-3rd-round-we-moved-up-to-get-you rookies cut. Luck throws him open (my man!). The route is actually pretty flat almost like a skinny post but Luck pulls him into the gap between the safeties. Mentally he was trying to adjust to the throw and forgot to catch. He walks into the endzone pretty much untouched if he catches. Tossing it up like that is unforgivable. I respect that he got up and made the tackle after though and he played well for the rest of the game. And I don’t mean to be so harsh but in three years that catch will be about playoff wins or maybe SB rings and he has to start making them right now.
Brazil - still looked solid all around. Great catch off the right side to just snatch the ball out of the air which I love. If you look at the best in the game, Megatron, Fitz or Andre Johnson they attack the ball. Defenders can’t pick it because they grab it out of the air. More of that for him and he may become a reliable 3 or even 2 with the injuries to Collie and Avery.
Oline - it ain't pretty but it’ll work. Last week we really fell apart when 6 or more came. This week..not really. I will say that this is probably due to some really good pick ups by the RB’s but we held up okay. We aren’t stoning guys but we are keeping them from making plays. Clearly already much better than last year. Satele still one of my favorites. didn’t get eaten up like that first running play last time. I’d like to see Costanzo hold his ground more. He’s great at directing the rush around but doesn’t kill bull rushes as well as he could. Also on the sack right after Luck’s first pick there is no way that was a designed naked bootleg...not against the Steelers. That’s a move for the Rams. I think Justice just blows the protection.
Fleener/Allen - how can you not be excited about these two as a Colts fan. Fleener showed who he can be last night. Beat the matchups and caught some balls. He plays much much better off the line in space. He can get brutally jammed by LB who have the stature to stick him. In reality he should be our number 3 WR just like Clark was. His blocking was improved but by no means good. He’s just not strong enough at his height to fight off some of the rush. They get right underneath him and it’s all he can do to re-direct or stall them. And in this offense, that’s all we will probably ever ask. Allen on the other hand, can slug some folks. He’s going to be a real weapon real fast. I think he will mean more to this team this year than Fleener will. He’s more polished right now as a play but Fleener clearly has the upside. Allen looks great at H back and should stay there. Good blocking, good routes and good hands.
Griff Whalen - Looked like Wes Welker. As much as I hate him, that’s a huge compliment to Whalen. Caught everything crisp. Took some real shots and wanted to keep running. Fast, crisp and compact. I’m rooting for him. Hard. Collie’s injury probably means he sees more reps this week. And my guess is Pagano and Grigson just being the kind of gritty “get er done” kind of guys they seem to be might just run him with the 1’s to see how he does. He and Luck see eye to eye and he may find a way on this roster. That clearly means that Crosby and Ross do not make it. I think they should keep Kris Adams because he represents a combination of size and speed that we are really really lacking. Wayne, Avery, Hilton, Brazil, Adams, Whalen.
Wayne - gonna have a huge year. If you can pick him up in fantasy do it. Being the motion guy gives him tons of mismatches and he will exploit them. Apart from that one out route I have nothing bad to say. Matter of fact how was this not a bigger deal in training camp how much he’s moving around. I think unlike our Manning offense we will not rely on perfect execution to win and that just excites me.
Mario Addison - he and Ballard and just letting us know they are here to stay. CONSTANT pressure from his side. Spin move just a10th slower than Freeney’s. Bull rush has real disruptive power. I kid you not. He matter on pretty much every single passing play he’s in. Has great instinct for the ball and made a bad tackle look worse. He is a must to make the roster. If we traded Freeny today for a CB I would have no fear.
Jerry Hughes - I was watching the game and started thinking that I just don’t believe yet. He had a few tackles with his chest...again like he was surprised to run into the guy. His first step is average. However, he did show a couple things. He beat the pants off the tackle on his sack and make a great tackle. Looked like Mathis frankly. He also shows surprising good pursuit to the ball. I still think he’s a little slower than he need to be to be great. If he can learn whatever it is that Freeney/Mathis do to just explode he will be a great asset this year. I need another good performance to believe. I’d like to see him start in the 4th game against another teams 1’s.
Freeman - I’m still a doubter. I just do not think he is fast enough. I fear he’s going to be chasing down plays from behind the whole season. Conner is downright reckless. He like a hungry wolf off the chain. Once he smells blood he goes. Clearly we will pay for this on play action and fakes but at least I feel like he’s causing trouble. However, Freeman did caused the fumble by the Steelers running back not Powers. If you watch it again he reaches out and jars the ball loose. Granted, Powers essentially jumps through the guy’s chest on the hit but that ball was on it’s way out. I just need to see him get to a play in the backfield or bring down a QB after getting blocked. Fokou for instance really blew up at least one play with pure speed and decisiveness.
Bethea - this guy’s pretty good huh? Granted Big Ben just threw a ball he shouldn’t have but you still have to actually make plays which Bethea did. If you note, the WR had Justin King smoked because of how much cushion King gives.
Powers - SO MUCH BETTER THAN OUR OTHER DB’s IT’S SCARY
Justin King - remember how I said he was a sure tackler last week...strike that. He whiffed twice where he should have made the play. Still gives way way too much of a cushion. No doubt our liability is in our secondary. It’s a testament to how well the front 7 are playing that we have not be burned for more big plays even in two games.
Brown - didn’t know who he was last week but I do now. He looked like Suggs out there. However, it's clear that on an old team like the Steelers with major offensive line problem that he may have looked better than he is. I’d like to see him play with the 2’s. Blocked punt was just the athlete in him. Jumped the line and dove. Beautiful.
Nevis/Mathew - not getting enough credit. Doing solid jobs. Mathews is commanding a lot of double team blocks to control him which is key. If we can get our NT’s to do the same we can turn it up.
Stanton/Harnish - scary thing is that both of them could probably start for the Jets right now. Stanton looked solid which I think is a real asset. Didn’t do anything crazy but didn’t carve them up either. Pressured and moved well without making bad decisions. First step in being a good back up is not to be a liability. Harnish throws a great ball. Pretty to look at with some nice zip. He basically might have thrown Whalen on the team. Pick was another rookie mistake.
Overall, this was an ideal second game. I’m glad we had such a slow start. I’d hate to just be tearing teams up in the preseason and then fall flat when when season comes. Luck showed the will to forget and the ability to get better. That’s what champions do, they feel their mistakes and get stronger not weaker because of them. In 5 years I predict the whole Luck Vs RG III pre draft debate will seem laughable.
On a side note, probably the most underrated issue with us is that we have the number one waiver wire spot. In a week, about 600 players are going to hit the market and we get our choice. There is no doubt that someone we love on this team is not going to make it to the 53 man roster. I’d start the hacking on the corner backs list.
Updates after the jump
Fleener - blocking is even worse than I thought. Once he gets thrown to side into Wayne on a running play. Both of their assignments make the tackle. Two other times he gets driven right back into the play. He is 100% a liability when asked to block. We need to play him off the line. Allen however, is totally solid.
Costanzo - looked great. He owned on the left side all night. He at one point slaps the DE in the shoulder so hard the guy is blown like 10 yards passed the play. In fact the left side of the line looked much better than the right. Olsen kinda sucks. He got swum or pushed back multiple times.
Moala - he's a non factor on defense. 2 games and he hasn't had his name called for really anything. He just occupies a blocker and that's it. I think Nevis and Matthews should start before he does.
Conner - the Antonio Brown TD is really his fault. He bites hard on the play fake and then just looks tired running the play down from behind. Freeman who was further away from the play at least got a hand on him.
Addison - also confused the opposing tackle pretty easily by changing up the timing and patterns on his rushes. Very nice again.
Luck - that throw to Brazil was another prime example of the right leg issue. It floats just enough when he throws like to allow DBs to even be in in the competition to snag the ball. If he plants the leg those throws come out like lasers. This is the "arm strength" issue that has been the only knock on him.
Thanks for the comments and the recs. Appreciate the feedback. I'll try to write these as often as I can.