Another pre-season game, another loss for the Colts. 0-8 dating back to last year, and the season before that. It was August 2004 when the Colts won their last pre-season game. What does that mean?
The pre-season is fake football, and the final score of the game is meaningless.
Now, even though the final score is meaningless, the game certainly isn't. I saw several bright spots in the game, and a few things I am not so rosy about:
- Gilbert Gardner was excellent. He has really solidified the SAM position. He got a sack on Hasselback and was part of several key run stuffing tackles. Gilbert is fast, and plays very well in space. Dungy might blitz him more. Gilbert looked very good, and I feel a lot better about the SAM linebacker position.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the Colts special teams made me want to puke. The kicking game was fine. Shane Andrus should hook up with a club after Vinatieri comes back. He's a fine kicker. The punter Reggie Hodges (subbing for an injured Hunter Smith) performed well, especially on that fake punt. Remember, he's only been on the team four days. The issue was the coverage units. They sucked more than Paris Hilton on a Saturday night in South Beach. Most of Seattle's points came of great field position surrendered by the ST coverage units. No excuse for that. Dan Shelton should never return kicks again. I've seen old women with artificial hips run faster than that.
- Dominic Rhodes ran well. He had tremendous burst and was running with authority. Rhodes really is a different player now than he was last year. He has good speed, and ran with power when he needed to. I was impressed.
- Joseph Addai finally got to showcase his abilities. His converted 3rd and 16 screen was awesome. Great burst after the catch and showcased some moves to get the first down. He got the last 3 running through two defenders. He also ran well with the second string unit, and each time he did well they cut to Rhodes on the sidelines, cheering him on. No egos in Indy, folks. Addai's fourth and one failure had more to do with bad o-line play than him. Even with 285 pound DT Darrell Reid playing FB, the Colts couldn't open a hole for one yard. Short yardage still looks like a weakness.
- Peyton Manning looked great. He was killing Seattle's defense. The TD to Wayne was a thing of beauty. The play fake froze the safety, and Wayne was open. The play fake worked because Rhodes was running well. The one-handed catch by Marvin on 3rd down was vintage. The score would have been 14-3 had Manning not overthrown Dallas Clark over the middle. That had 6 written all over it. Clark was killing LBer Julian Peterson when he was in the game.
- The offensive line is still have trouble with the San Diego/Pittsburgh scheme devised to stop them. Seattle blitzed outside linebackers up the middle twice, and both times Manning left the pocket. I am very considered about this.
- Antoine Bethea will start the first game against the Giants. Write it down. He was excellent last night, and the coaches are too high on him just to sit him. His coverage skills are quite good, and he can support the run defense very well. He might be the perfect compliment to Bob Sanders.
- Jim Sorgi is done. He has not been healthy all off-season, and the Colts should have put him under the knife months ago. He has no zip on the ball, and his blitz reading was terrible. That INT was something they teach high school kids not to do. No excuse for that. Shaun King is now the backup, and I don't want to see Sorgi again until he is 100% healthy.
- Walter Jones is considered by many to be the best LT in football. Walter Jones CANNOT BLOCK Dwight Freeney. The Seahawks were rolling Hasselback away from Freeney all night because he was beating Jones that badly. Despite this, Freeney still got a sack on Hasselback, and was involved in several other plays. Even without starting DTs Simon and Reagor, the Colts run defense looked pretty good.
All in all, I think it was a positive game for the Colts. James Mungro had a slight injury. Sorgi looks like he won't be back for a while. I didn't see any key injuries for the Hawks, which is good. It was a well played game. I feel very good about Gardner and Addai, not so good about the Colts special teams. I'm curious why Terrence Wilkins did not return kicks, and why didn't Kory Chapman play?
Next game is the "dress rehearsal" game, where we really see what this team might look like this season.