I would first like to take a moment to apologize for delaying this article for so long. I have been somewhat busy this week, and while I was hoping to make these posts an every-Tuesday thing, the grading for this particular game took a bit longer than I though it would. Also, there is another reason this article took so long, which is explained a bit later.
I promised you all that you were in for a treat with this week's edition of "A Tale of the Tape." Indeed, you are. Everyone who watches a decent amount of NFL football understands that the final preseason game is nothing more than an audition for players on the roster bubble; the starters don't play much. In this particular case, the Colts' first team offense simply did not play at all against the Bengals. Rather than watching Joe Reitz get blasted on every play, I opted to expand my grading. This week, I graded players that I found interesting (young players that could be integral to the future of the organization).
This article was initially going to contain analysis of Khaled Holmes, Hugh Thornton, Ben Ijalana, Josh Chapman, Drake Nevis, Bjoern Werner, and Ceasar Rayford. Ijalana and Nevis were cut, and Rayford was traded; all of these things delayed the release of my evaluation. In the end, we are left with grades for Holmes, Thornton, Chapman, and Werner. But first, as always, I must explain my grading system. (Fort those familiar with my articles, feel free to skip to the evaluations).
Each player is evaluated on each play and given a positive (+) or negative (-) grade. Positive grades are given for the player successfully completing his task on that particular snap. Negative grades are given for failure. All of this is done via slow-motion video replay. The final grade is figured by dividing the total number of positive (+) snaps by the total number of snaps played, overall. There are cases where a player receives an "asterisk" grade. This happens for one of three reasons:
1) The player "technically' completed the assignment, but he could have done so better.
2) I, as an evaluator, fail to make a determination as to whether the task was successfully completed or not.
3) The player started the play well and ended poorly, or vice versa.
All "asterisk" plays are entirely disregarded from the final grade configuration, as to not positively nor negatively affect the score.
(All grades are based on a 99-90: A, 89-80: B, 79-70: C, 69-60: D, 59-0: F grading scale).
I'll start with Khaled Holmes, who started at Center and played for the first time against the Bengals. He did not get off to a great start to his career. Holmes is a smart player; that much is apparent. He was in full control, almost always pointing out protections properly. This is a very good attribute for a Center to possess. Also, Holmes does a fantastic job getting out and blocking for screens. He moves tremendously for a man his size, and he is very agile. The problem is in his run blocking. He gets driven back far too easily and play way too high; his height is a definite disservice to him at times. There was one inside run play where he received a holding penalty, and he had to commit the infraction because he had gotten handled by Brandon Thompson. This leverage problem also exists in his pass sets, where he often looks awkward, but somehow manages not to give up pressure. In short, all things considered, Holmes is like the anti-Satele.
Final Grade: 16/26, 62%, D-
I cannot say enough positive things about Hugh Thornton. He performs very well in his pass sets, and he always has his head on a swivel. Thornton regularly helps out his teammates and just appears very active, always finding someone to block. In the running game, Thornton was absolutely fantastic against Cincinnati. The rookie guard is powerful, devastating on trap blocks, and truly nasty; he plays with a mean streak that I have not seen from a Colts offensive lineman in a very long time. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I think Hugh Thornton is going to be All-Pro at some point in his career. I'll say it again, Chuck Pagano: start this kid.
Final Grade: 26/29, 90%, A-
Finally, I get to grade a defensive player! Josh Chapman is the truest definition of a War Daddy, as it is apparent that he loves the dirty work of playing Nose Tackle. Against the Bengals, he played pretty well. His game was nothing flashy; he simply took a lunch pale approach and did his job. Chapman is not going to make his money as a pass rusher. He is not expected to, and his play against Cincinnati demonstrates that. He had a couple of good bull rushes, but he was consistently double-teamed. His run defense is what sets him apart. Against Cincinnati, Chapman was generally a nuisance to the offensive line. It is just very difficult to move him. He won leverage battles, and he also had a few good penetration plays. Solid game.
Final Grade: 10/12, 83%, B
I still have no nickname for Werner. We need an entire comments section dedicated to determining one for him... Anyway, Werner played pretty well against the Bengals. He played 19 total snaps, and his final grade is out of 11 plays. This means he had 8 asterisks, almost all of which were backside runs or quick passes that he could do nothing about (regarding those backside runs, he did hustle for the entire play, unlike at Florida State). I graded Werner as 3/3 rushing the passer. His speed rush looked nimble, and he was frequently the first player off the ball. His bull rush was also okay. Werner is somewhat raw right now, and he could stand to add a counter move or two to his repertoire. Werner was decent setting the edge against the run, but he certainly could have been better. He needs to learn to play with better leverage and keep his outside shoulder free, and I predict both of these attributes will improve with experience. His grade is not quite indicative of the game he played.
Final Grade: 8/11, 73%, C
- The offensive pass/run split was 47% to 53% before Thornton and Holmes came out of the game.
- Thornton got 4 one-on-one match ups with Geno Atkins, and Hugh won 3 of them.
- Werner had his hand on the ground 4 out of his 19 snaps, 21% of the time.
- Josh Chapman was not in once in goalline sets.
Bonus: Cam Johnson
Because of the lack of players on the Colts roster that I actually had a desire to grade for this game, I decided to include some notes on the team's newest pass rusher: Cam Johnson. I do not have any professional game tape of him, so this is not going to include a grade. However, I scoured the internet to find whatever film I could of his days at the University of Virginia. Here are my observations.
- This guy has it. He is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback, and he is just difficult to block.
- Cam Johnson is not a 4.8 guy like his Combine would indicate. That number is due to a lack of top-end speed. His burst off of the line is absolutely fantastic; he is a blur.
- He has tremendous agility and range for a man of his size. He could be a very good defender in coverage for the Colts.
- Johnson is active in run defense, and he gets off blocks quickly and efficiently. He regularly gets in the backfield, as a result.
- Cam Johnson has a FANTASTIC bull rush. His ability to convert speed to power is something scouts drool over, and he was able to put college offensive tackles on skates.
- He also has a devastating go-to move where he comes up field, acts like he is going to loop inside, and then cuts back to take the outside corner. It is like the football version of Kyrie Irving breaking a defender's ankles.
- Johnson's only pass rushing weakness, oddly enough, is his speed rush. He has terrific burst, as I said, but he needs to get better at bending and taking the edge. If he improves this, watch out.
- Cam Johnson could very well be a long-term starter, along with Bjoern Werner. Fantastic trade, Ryan Grigson!
That is all I have for this week, and as always, feel free to comment! Next week, I get to grade a regular season game, and this excites me. Bring on the Raiders, and GO COLTS!!