I'm as upset as anyone else by the outcome of today's game, but I think we should focus on positive things wherever possible.
I hate the outcome of the game as much as anyone (especially because I loathe the Jaguars), but there is no denying that we saw some exciting things today. So, let's get started.
1) Andrew Luck go to show off his athleticism. Coming into the draft, people were really high on RGIII because he is a dual threat that would cause problems for defenses to game plan against. One of the things that went largely unnoticed was that Andrew Luck is also incredibly fast--in fact, as the announcers pointed out today, he ran the same 40 time as Cam Newton. (Un?)fortunately, Luck is too cerebral and pass oriented to do much scrambling. Hopefully defensive coordinators took note. If Luck can keep up these rushing numbers, we might begin to see the passing game open up more as defenses leave someone home to protect against a Luck scramble.
2) Andrew Luck is really, really good at the two-minute offense. We've read about this in other stories on Stampede Blue so I won't rehash it here.
3) Donald Brown has made some great strides. He has been picking up blitzes well, and we didn't see the types of miscues from him that we've seen in previous games (i.e. dropping passes).
4) The run defense is pretty stout compared to previous seasons. Yes, MJD's stat line looks like he ran all over us, but a lot of that came from a single run. In addition, we were able to stuff a lot of Jacksonville's runs. Yes, MJD ran for more than 6 YPC. If, however, you take out that one 59 yard TD run, MJD's yards per carry drops to just over 4. Not too shabby for a much-maligned run defense versus one of the best backs in the league. In previous seasons, almost every run would go for 4+ yards, with a great many going more than 5 or 6. I'm not saying that our run defense is particularly good, but it's much, much better than we've previously seen.
5) The Colts have finally learned how to tackle. This is much more of a "gut" judgement than one based in facts/numbers/evidence because I don't have access to NFL Replay. What I can say, though, is that, with the exception of Shorts--the guy who caught the game winning TD--only one other receiver had more than 10 yards per catch. Yes, Blaine Gabbert is awful, but this means that we were also stuffing short dump offs pretty well. There was also at least one play where Vontae Davis stuffed a bubble screen at the line of scrimmage by latching on to the receiver's ankle. This is the second game in a row with a play from him like this.
6) Our pass rush looked significantly better today than it had in previous games. Even without Freeney, on many plays (note: not all plays) we got pressure on Gabbert (including at least two major pressures from Jerry Hughes). There were certainly a large number of plays where Gabbert could have knitted a sweater in the pocket and still had time to throw, but overall it still seemed like a huge improvement.
7) Perhaps most importantly, we found a new potential starter at line backer: Andrew Luck. Watching the replay of him chasing down his interception, it looked like he was actually trying to push other teammates out of the way. He has a nose for the ball, and we should clearly start him at OLB opposite Mathis.
What positives did you guys see from the game?