"Ultimately we play to win all of our games... there's no excuse for us not to go out and try to score points every time we touch the football."
That was Colts' offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton this morning, talking about his team's offense and whether they place more emphasis on winning in the preseason or on getting better. Hamilton talked about how the Colts are clearly a run first and power running team and that he thought that the Colts did a good job with the run and pass balance in the first half of this past Sunday's game.
Except for, when you look at the numbers, the Colts ran 28 pass plays and 11 run plays in the first half. That's 71.8% passes. Not exactly what I'd call balance (unless you're comparing it to the second half, where 22 of the 25 plays were pass plays - 88%).
There's also the possibility that the run emphasis is not on how much they run it as compared to when they run it, as my buddy Tom James keeps pointing out in the media trailer. I think he's absolutely right, but I got to thinking about when a power run game should come into play - in short yardage situations, right? So I looked at every Colts snap that was taken on Sunday with four yards or less to get a first down. There were 9 such instances, and every single time they went to the air. Every single time. There was even a tenth that was negated due to a penalty (the Colts picked up the first down anyway) and on that play, they still were passing it.
It was just one game, so I'm not saying that's how it's always going to be. They will be more balanced going forward, I guarantee you that. It's just that actions speak louder than words, and one game in, the Colts haven't exactly been balanced. That's coming, and even if it doesn't, I bet most people paying to see the Colts play wouldn't be upset at seeing Luck that much. But we both know that it can't happen again this year.
Pep also had a very interesting take on the common saying "limiting bad/negative plays." Pep said that their main goal is not to limit them but to manage them. He explained that, since there are many more bad plays than just turnovers, it's about not compounding on the problem and adjusting to it. The example he gave is that if they are going deep and their primary receiver is covered, they have to come back underneath and check it down, and sometimes they'll even have to throw it away. It's about managing bad plays and making sure that the Colts aren't adding to the problem. That's an interesting way to look at it and I like it.
Greg Manusky also talked today and said that he hopes to see his starters get around 15 snaps playing together on Sunday. He added that it depends on age too, as guys over 30 years old will likely play less than younger guys. Manusky said that he still wants to see his players "blow their lungs out" despite seeing the limited playing time and that he doesn't want them to get to the regular season opener and have guys breathing heavy for the first time.
He also talked about how Josh Chapman played well against the Bills' stretch-cut scheme on Sunday, the same scheme that the Houston Texans run (although Manusky acknowledged that they run it better than the Bills do). He also talked about Drake Nevis and how he is picking up where he left off before he got hurt last year and is improving every day.
Here are some notes from this afternoon's practice:
- Yesterday I was very critical of Darrius Heyward-Bey and his drops. He rebounded today with a nice practice, catching most of what was thrown his way (he still had a drop or two). He made two very great plays, the first where it was a real quick screen right to DHB who then turned his speed on and split two defenders on the way to the end zone. The second was on a slant into the end zone guarded by Vontae Davis, and the possession battle caused us to joke about the Seahawks/Packers game last year. DHB and Davis kept fighting for it and went to the ground still wrestling for it. Neither one would give it up and soon several other teammates came over and were trying to help their guy come out with it. In the end, DHB held on for the touchdown and came out of the pile with it.
- Another funny play came when they ran a reverse to T.Y. Hilton and he took off running towards the end zone and just before he got there it was a close play as to whether he was down just shy of the end zone or whether Lawrence Guy got him down. Guy yelled, "You think I would have dove for you?" and Pagano came running over with a smile and ruled T.Y. down at the one, which prompted more reaction from the players.
- Reggie Wayne made a sideline catch along the left sideline but the official ruled him out of bounds. Reggie obviously wasn't happy and was arguing with the official. Meanwhile, Cory Redding and Robert Mathis, standing a ways back behind the goal line, went crazy and were jumping around taunting Reggie. It was pretty funny. Right after that, however, Reggie came back with a catch across the middle, then pointed back towards either the official or Redding and Mathis (or both), taunting them back. That was the last time Reggie was practicing today so we joked that he got "ejected," but I really doubt it (and if he did, it was in a joking way).
- Andrew Luck saw some time with some 2nd and 3rd team wideouts pretty extensively today. I think he had at least an entire drive with guys like DHB, T.Y. Hilton, Lanear Sampson, Jabin Sambrano. He hit the running backs and Coby Fleener some on that drive too. It was just interesting because Luck hasn't seen much time at all with Sampson or Sambrano. But he did have a really nice throw to Sambrano, who made a really nice catch, for a score.
- Justice Cunningham had a nice touchdown where he batted the ball up twice and then caught it.
- Ashante Williams had a pick off of Matt Hasselbeck, as did Darius Butler. Shawn Loiseau picked Andrew Luck on a pass that was tipped.
- Oh, and Lanear Sampson? Yeah, I think he continues to be the guy I'm least impressed with this camp.
- Adam Vinatieri missed three kicks wide left today, something very unusual for him. He obviously wasn't happy with it, as he went over to the side field and began kicking more after the drill was over.
- Robert Mathis may have had the move of camp so far. In the pass rushing drill (personally my favorite drill), he was facing Anthony Castonzo and spun outside off the snap, just like a lot of people do. Then, however, Mathis immediately spun back inside and easily blew right by Castonzo. It was an incredible move. I really can't do it justice here. After the play, Cory Redding celebrated by pouring a water bottle on Mathis' head.
- Bjoern Werner comes off the snap too low and as a result gets driven into the ground at times. It happened again today against Gosder Cherilus. A little bit later in practice, however, he redeemed himself with a pretty nice rush against Cherilus.
- Chandler Harnish continues to look unimpressive. We had an interesting discussion amongst the media today about whether that is because he really has gotten worse since last year or whether brining in Hasselbeck makes the gap look that much bigger between 2 and 3. I think both are the case, but I'd have a really hard time saying that he is better now than last year (or even the same).
- I haven't seen Josh McNary even on the field in a few days. I didn't really look for him yesterday. Today I looked but couldn't find him. I don't really know what's going on there.
- Coby Fleener was in full pads and participating fully in practice. He passed the tests to return to practice but has yet to pass the tests to be cleared to play.
- Pat Angerer was in full pads today and did some work off to the side.
- LaRon Landry came out today with his left knee wrapped and with ice on it. I'm no doctor, but I don't think that's a sign he's ready to practice.
- Dwayne Allen was without crutches today and walking fine, albeit with a boot still on his right foot.
- Overall, today was the healthiest I've seen this Colts team.