Nothing says Shoot me now! like a pre-season overtime game. Honestly, why do they let these things go to OT? Does anyone really care if a pre-season game gets tied? So silly. Anyway, unlike the HoF game, it looked like a regular old pre-season game out there, complete with sloppy play, turnovers, and players not knowing what the hell is going on.
Colt Homer posted his more than solid game recap over at Naptown, and for the most part I agree with him. Also, some nice comments in the game thread. Thanks to MasterRWayne for setting that up. My Internet was down all day yesterday because of some grid issue. I was in hell. Here are some observations from the game:
- The Panthers ran the ball 48 times. 48! Are you kidding me? Gee, do you think Panthers coach John Fox was trying to send a message to his team in their first pre-season game? Carolina averaged 4.3 yards a carry and generated over 200 yards rushing on 48 friggin' attempts. Either Fox is really wanting to run the football this year in Carolina, or he's trying to get his RBs killed. Poor tackling from Indy's linebackers resulted in some good gains early on for the Panthers. With guys like Jordan Senn, Kyle Shotwell, and Danny Verdun-Wheeler (who was signed just a few days ago) playing LB for you, those things are going to happen. None of these guys are making the team anyway.
- Carolina seemed to game plan the game and did an awful lot of blitzing. Is that cheap and silly for a pre-season game? Yes, but Carolina's coaches are desperate this year, and need to get this team to the playoffs in order to retain their jobs. Desperate teams do desperate things. The blitzing was unexpected, and not something Indy could game plan for. LT Tony Ugoh struggled because he'd never matched up with Julius Peppers before, and wasn't given a chance to study Panthers game film because (unlike Carolina) the Colts didn't game plan this pre-season game. I actually liked that they blitzed because it provided some adversity for the young guys.
- Like I told you, Marvin Harrison is fine. If Peyton Manning had been in there and Carolina blitzed like that, Indy would have been up 21-0 in the first quarter with Harrison scoring 2 of those TDs on long bombs. Marvin had a nice catch going out-of-bounds early.
- I'm starting to believe a little bit. For the second straight week, Indy's special teams coverage units have looked good. Very good. 4 Carolina punt returns netted -1 yards, and 3 kick returner netted 68 yards. Adam Vinatieri looks as strong and healthy as I've ever seen him, even in New England. He is booming the ball on kickoffs, and players seem to know their assignments and are tackling the ball carrier well. Again, starting to believe a little bit.
- Jim Sorgi continues to un-impress. He had two turnovers, resulting from poor pass protection because the Panthers were blitzing in pre-season. Despite the bad protection, Sorgi has to protect the ball better. Jared Lorenzen looked much better with the second unit. I still like Quinn Gray better.
- Mike Hart continued to solidify his place on the roster: 2 rushes for 20 yards, 2 catches for 21 yards. Kenton Keith continues to fall further and further into oblivion. He dropped some passes (shocking, I know) and rushed 1 time for 1 yard. Why did Indy cut Clifton Dawson, who at least showed some young potential, and not this waste of space?
- Though Indy will run more 3 WR this year, the Colts got some good TEs for 2008. Gijon Robinson impresses in the passing game, and Jacob Tamme was about as good as it gets, snatching 2 TDs. Tamme is a real weapon in the red zone, and will likely find his way there if the Colts go 2 TE inside the 20.
- T.J. Rushing's returns were very good. He's separating himself from the pack. Pierre Garcon did not play because of a hip injury.
- I disagree with Colt Homer on Devin Aromashodu; he isn't getting cut. For the second straight game, he looked good. I still think Indy will carry 6 WRs this year. I can see Colt Homer's thinking, but Aromashodu and Garcon are both good WRs who can play special teams. I think Indy keeps them both on the active roster.
- Brandon Condren makes me feel very good about safety depth. Unlike the LBers, Brandon can actually tackle the ball carrier.
- To the people complaining about the defensive line, saying it reminds them of the 2006 regular season, PLEASE RELAX and remember this is pre-friggin-season. Quinn Pitcock's absence is not the reason Carolina ran the ball 48 times. The Colts have the same 3 DTs the rotated for much of the 2007 season (Ed Johnson, Keyunta Dawson, and Raheem Brock) and have added a gem out of Rutgers named Eric Foster. Foster is a stud, and anyone who doesn't see that isn't watching the games or practices. The Colts run defense will be just fine once the rotation gets set, Dwight Freeney returns, and Bob Sanders is unleashed on the civilized world. Guys like Foster and Brock are learning new roles, and Dungy is looking hard at players like Joe Bradley and Colin (not the dumb actor) Ferrell. If the Colts feel that adding someone like Booger McFarland for depth would help, they'd do it. Bill Polian and Tony Dungy love Booger, and Booger loves the Colts. Obviously, since they haven't signed Booger at this point, they feel good about their DT situation. Calm down. Relax. And remember it is still early August.
As fans, we were spoiled a little bit by the Hall of Fame game, which had the feel of a regular season game in terms of execution and level of play. Last night's game was more a typical pre-season game. Per usual, there were many positives, and those players that showed more negatives and positives will likely not make the active roster in 4 weeks.
For a Panthers fan's take, head over to the always reliable Car Scratch Reader. Look for more insights and analysis throughout the day and week, including MasterRWayne's take on the game.