FanPost

Quick Hits: NFL Replay Colts-Panthers

After watching the replay of the Colts-Panthers game on the NFL Network I thought I would share a few more observations.  Some of them alter comments I made initially regarding who impressed and who didn’t.  Others are about players I didn’t mention in that post.

First Team Offensive Line – Clearly this unit did not come ready to play or was not properly prepared.  The pocket collapsed too quickly, too often and run blocking was poor as well.  The line wasn’t always bad but definitely was not playing at the level we’ll be expecting them to during the regular season. 

A side note on this:  I think it is important for fans to realize the impact not having P. Manning in the game has on the offensive line, particularly against first team defenses, even more particularly against first team defenses who game plan specifically for the Colts.  It’s common understanding that putting pressure on Manning, while desirable, is risky for a number of reasons.  One reason is that Manning has an uncanny ability to avoid pressure.  Another is that Manning is possibly the smartest person in the stadium when it comes to recognizing defenses and reading where pressure will be coming from.  Additionally, Manning is one of the only QBs in the league with almost complete control over offensive play decisions, regularly checking down.  This alters blocking schemes, including assignments for RBs or TEs should a defensive scheme require it, and drive opposing defenses and their coordinators crazy as the weaknesses resulting from attempts at getting pressure on Manning are exposed and utilized to get the most out of the offense on a given play.  These characteristics, along with Manning’s amazing arm and accuracy, force defenses to be a bit more cautious about just how aggressive they choose to be when attacking our offensive line and how they will go about doing so. 

The point is this, with a back-up QB in the game who does not have a strong arm, does not have an enhanced ability to feel and avoid pressure, does not have the same ability to recognize defensive schemes, and who does not check down or even point out blocking assignments for the line, TEs, and RBs… it’s really easy to pin your ears back and go full throttle, overwhelming an offensive line.  This is not an “excuse” for the line, they should have played better and provided a better pocket for Sorgi (if they played this poorly with Manning in the game we’d be REALLY peeved), but it is worth keeping in mind when analyzing the offensive line, specific linemen, etc. during preseason action.

Jim Sorgi – While the first team offensive line played poorly Sorgi displayed two REALLY bad traits which made the line’s job harder and made it more difficult for our first team offense to be productive.  First, Sorgi holds on to the ball WAY too long.  Asking the line to provide a pocket and keep pressure off of the QB is fine but the QB should get rid of the ball as quickly as possible.  On more than one occasion Sorgi was either sacked or felt “pressure” more because he held on to the ball too long and less because of poor play on the offensive line.  Second, he telegraphs his passes too much.  On one play, in the red zone no less, Sorgi held on to the ball in the pocket and looked in the back left corner of the end zone or at least to the left side of the field for the entire play, apparently whomever his target was never got open… possibly because it was easy for the coverage to shift, the play ended when Sorgi was sacked… he has gone missing and was last see standing around the 13 yard line looking at something interesting to the northeast.  Having said that, the interception was the result of being tipped by a Carolina defensive lineman… it was a good defensive play but it’s difficult to put a lot of blame on Sorgi for that particular pass.

 

Jared Lorenzen – Lorenzen looked really comfortable in the pocket while he was in the game.  It gave me a good impression.  Clearly the 2nd team offensive line provided better blocking overall but still, he looked far more comfortable than Sorgi as he scanned the field for open receivers.  He definitely has a strong arm, and his bomb into the end zone before half time was impressive (arm strength wise).  He also can run, which is really something to watch (I laugh every time and can’t help but root for him when he does – I say we try him at FB).  However, Lorenzen’s side arm throwing style and bullet like flat passes are prone to deflection by aware defensive linemen, who have deflected more of his passes in the first two games than I would have liked.  Also, Lorenzen seems unable to adjust the velocity he puts on his passes when appropriate and has a habit of throwing the ball too quickly, meaning before the intended receiver is in a position to catch it.

Jamey Richard – Richard plays with a lot of energy/tenacity.  I like how hard he plays and particularly like seeing that scrappy nature when he led Lorenzen’s sneak for a short first down.  I think he is a player and will make the team.  However, in both games Richard has had a bad snap – the long snap in the HoF game and the bad snap to Gray in the Carolina game.  I think he is better suited, at least at this point, for a back-up guard position.

Defensive Line – Clearly the defensive line has not been as effective as we would like to see but I did notice that a great deal of holding was going on and not getting called.  I noticed it in the first game too but not as much as I noticed it against Carolina.  While this is not an excuse for poor defensive line play, which there has definitely been, it is worth mentioning and is probably an indication that our defensive linemen are really quick.  As a result I doubt we’ve got a completely accurate perception of the kind of pressure our defensive line is capable of generating on the QB.  I utter lack of holding calls in the preseason is not an indication of what we can expect during the regular season.

Marcus Howard – I didn’t see Howard get as many snaps against Carolina but it is clear he was not as effective generating a pass rush as he was last week.  I give the LT for Carolina some credit here, it looked like he was doing a really good job.  However, I really liked how hard Howard worked to figure out a way to get pressure, reminding me of times I have seen Freeney try multiple angles to get to the passer (ie. Rolling inside of the defensive tackles after the ball is snapped to find holes in the interior of the OL).

Mike Hart – After watching the game again it is clear to me that Hart is something special.  Each time he touched the ball he did something noteworthy with it.  On the pass to the right, he was hit immediately by a defender (hard too) and not only did he not go down, he drove the ball forward through the defender for an additional 5 or 6 yards (turning a 3 or 4 yard gain into 9).  On the pass to the left, he read the incoming defenders and chose a route which maximized the yards he could get on that play.  On his run up the middle, he broke two tackles, taking hit from the first tackler and running through his arms only to be greeted by three more defenders, two of which he drove through for another 5 or 6 yards after contact.  On his run to the right, he was hit hard almost immediately at the line of scrimmage but fought through the tackle to turn a no gain into 2 yards.  Every time he touches the ball he does something special with it and it has become rather apparent that he refuses to be denied.  He not only make the team but I really think Hart may be a better option behind Addai than Rhodes.  I don’t want to speak too quickly, but from what I’ve seen so far and from what I know of him before he arrived here, he may be the steal of the draft.

Kyle Shotwell – Shotwell has a nose for the ball, more than once so far during the preseason he has shed blockers and stuffed running backs for short gains.  Keep an eye on his progress because, at least against the run, he seems like a real player.

Jamie Silva – Silva did a nice job on one play of separating a receiver from the ball as an incoming pass was arriving.  He also showed great awareness when Guzman recovered the fumble, throwing a block on the fallen opponent (even blocking an incoming Colt player as he provided Guzman with room to get up and run).  Silva also made a nice play when he came up on the line on the left end with seconds remaining in the 4th quarter… Carolina attempted to run the ball up the middle for a short first down but Silva came from the end of the line, beating the back to the hole, stopping him for no gain or maybe even a short loss.  That’s a tough play to make.  I think he is worth keeping a close eye on, though Condren’s tough play so far might make it tough for Silva to make the team unless he can establish himself on ST.

Ramon Guzman – Guzman’s two ST tackles are meaningless, both were on punts which were mishandled and Guzman simply downed the returner who fell on the ball.  One of his assists really was nothing more than being “in the right place at the right time.”  Guzman did get some pressure on the QB a couple of times but failed to sack the QB on one play when he really should not have.  Overall, I really don’t think his play has been impressive so far this year and think he’s getting more credit from in-game announcers, and some fans, than he deserves.

Keiwan Ratliff – Ratliff’s interception was really impressive.  Additionally, he looked good in coverage.  I want to see more and think he’s worth keeping an eye on.  I’d love to find someone to replace Jennings.

Gijon Robinson – It takes four defenders to take down Robinson, definitely a horse.  I really like what he shown us so far.

Corey Hilliard/Darren Marquez – Neither seem like viable back-ups at OT.

Ben Ishola – Hasn’t produced much in terms of tackles or sacks and the like but is definitely fast.  Too bad he wasn’t eligible last year… when Marcus Howard and Curtis Johnson weren’t around.

Onrea Jones – Not only did Jones have really good hands, he was very fluid.  It seemed like each time he caught the ball, including when he caught tough passes, he was quickly moving the ball up field.  He seemed like the most likely player to put pressure on Hall/Aromashodu/Garcon for a roster spot.

Danny Verdun – While overall Verdun was impressive against the run, he doesn’t show a great ability to shed blockers.  On at least one run up the middle Verdun was removed from the play by a blocker and the back broke through for a good run, tackled later by Antonio Smith.

Eric Foster – I was disappointed to see that Foster’s sack was kind of bogus.  He didn’t get the sack because he did something to get rid of the offensive lineman or because of his skill/ability… he got the sack because Darrell Reid beat the RT and the RG left Foster to help… leaving an open lane for Foster directly to the QB.  Given that his only other contribution was a tackle on a RB 7 yards down the field… it wasn’t overly impressive.  And to be honest, I’ve not yet seen anything from Foster that has gotten me overly excited at all.  Hopefully he improves and quick.

Brandon Foster – First, the passing interference call on Foster was bogus, second the play he made on the ball on that play was great.  Foster looked as good or better than what I’ve seen of Jennings in man coverage.  Keep an eye on him.

Chad Simpson – This kid is REALLY fast.  Based on what I’ve seen so far, it would be nice to keep him on the team.  However, realistically it will be difficult to keep 4 RBs if our injury situation does not improve.  I hope it does because I don’t think he’d stick on the practice squad and think he and Hart will be our back-ups next year if we can manage to retain him.

Jordan Senn – Senn always seems to be around the ball and/or in on tackles.  Though I did not see it myself, I was told that he made a great ST tackle in kick coverage – apparently busting the wedge and getting the ball carrier on the same play.  He and Shotwell seem like the best competition for Guzman and others to stay on the roster.

 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.