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2010 NFL Preseason: Recap of the Colts and Bills preseason game in Toronto

I spent much of Friday recovering from an illness. Thanks to GoBigBlue88, emiller17, and LovinBlue for posting some great game recaps for the Colts and Bills preseason game in Toronto. Before we get to my notes, it seems the "Toronto Experiment" for the Bills is not working. Only 20,000 people attended the game. That's putrid, even by preseason standards. No offense, but if Ralph Wilson cannot get football to work in Western New York (where they are crazy for pigskin) but a publicly-owned team can make football work in Green Bay, WI, that suggests to me that the problem is Ralph Wilson, not the fans. Playing game in Canada is a sure fire way to isolate your fanbase, Mr. Wilson.

OK, onto the notes. I've watched the game three times. Yes, I am THAT obsessive!

  • From the first kick, Devin Moore had something to prove. He was four years deep in the endzone on the opening kickoff and got the ball out near the 30. Tremendous burst and "shake." On his second return, he runs it out to the 37. The 49 yard punt return late in the first, where he took it straight up the middle of the seam without any hesitation, was awesome. This explosive element adds a new weapon for the Colts if Moore can be consistent with it. 
  • Devin running was also quite impressive. He hits the hole, and his speed takes care of the rest. Devin Moore had an outstanding overall game against the Bills.
  • All night, punt returns were very good for the Colts. Brandon James had a good one in the fourth when he came into the game. Either the Bills truly suck on special teams, or the Colts have two or three guys who can make some things happen with the football returning punts and kicks.
  • Penalty on Tony Ugoh to start the game was a trend. Kyle Williams, #95 for the Bills, killed Ugoh all day. Pretty much on every passing play, Ugoh was getting beat. Again, Ugoh has all the talent in the world. There's no excuse for him to be losing battles to players like Chris Kelsay
  • Manning seemed to be annoyed all evening with Clyde Christensen. During the first drive, Peyton was seen gesturing to the sideline, indicating a 'hurry up and get me the friggin play' attitude. Later, on the team's second drive and near the red zone, the Colts tried to run the WR screen, but the Bills sniffed it out. Manning threw the ball in the dirt, turned to the sideline and said "You can't f*cking call that!" I've watched Peyton since 1998. I never recall him ever doing that to Tom Moore. Maybe some of you can recall a time or a moment where you saw him do that, but I can't.
  • After a third down competition, Manning looked at the bench and shook his head in disgust about something. To me, it seemed he was pissed at Ugoh blowing his block on Chris Kelsay, almost giving Kelsay a free shot at Peyton's blindside.
  • Lots of 4 WR sets with empty backfield for the first team offense. For those of you who want to see Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon on the field together, this was that formation. 4 wide, no back in the backfield, spread offense. The first time they used it, Marcus Stroud was able to penetrate and bat the ball down. Stroud slapped Jamey Richard around all night.
  • The C.J. Spiller TD run was just a fluke play. Robert Mathis, Jacob Lacey, Bob Sanders, and Antoine Bethea all missed tackles. Spiller should have been dropped for a loss, which he was several times throughout the evening. It will be interesting to see how Spiller performs throughout the year. He's a speed back, and as the season drags on and he takes a few hard sticks, will he be able to maintain that speed?
  • Impressive receiving skills on display by one Brody Eldridge. Manning trusts the kid. Equally great receiving by Joseph Addai. If the Colts use a 4 wide package on offense this year, they can do it with multiple personnel groupings On his long third down receptions, Addai beat Paul Pozlusnky. Addai running routes with a LBer covering him is a match-up that favors Indy.
  • Strong running by Donald Brown, especially on delayed draw runs. He saw the field a bit better this evening, and allowed his blocks to develop.However, on passing downs, Brown does not have reliable hands. He dropped an easy one from Manning late on the first.
  • On the 19-yard Joseph Addai TD, blocking up from was excellent. Jeff Linkenbach, who played both tackle and both guard positions Thursday night, did a nice job blocking at the second level, taking out Bills safety Bryan Scott to spring Addai for the score. After the TD, Addai pointed to Linkenbach as if to say 'Good job.' Good blocking by Mike Pollak on the run as well.
  • Joseph Addai has speed. The TD runs proves it. Give him blocking and he can make things happen. Most under-rated back in all of football.
  • In second Bills offensive series, Colts defense imposed their will. Bills fans had to shudder seeing Trent Edwards taking multiple shots. His pass outside on second down should have been picked by Kelvin Hayden. Edwards got lucky. On third down, the Colts had six defenders up against the line. None blitzed. Dwight Freeney, Daniel Muir, and Robert Mathis all got into Edwards' face, and Edwards was absolutely rocked by Mathis. Helmet came off. Edwards clearly dazed and affected by Mathis' hit. The ball floated out of his hands and yet another pass that the Bills were lucky was not picked.
  • The pick six was Gonzo's fault. Ball was thrown right into his hands. It bounced off, pick six. Catch the ball, Gonzo.
  • Back to Ugoh, as bad as he was in pass protection, he was seemingly quite good in off-tackle run blocking.
  • Jacob Tamme really is a great asset for the Colts. He is an outstanding receiving TE. Dallas Clark is awesome, but if Clark were out of a few games, Tamme could pick up the slack. He runs great routes, and the TD catch from Manning to tie the game at 14 was excellent. Tamme's excellent special teams skills, and his ability to play long-snapper, make him a very vital part of this Colts team. Anyone suggesting Tamme will be cut is just someone who is ignorant of how valuable Tamme is. The Colts love the guy and view him as an essential player.
  • The Lee Evans touchdown was a result of Antoine Bethea not getting over and helping Kelvin Hayden. Colts need to tighten that up. Giving up big plays in the passing game is often a side effect of a blitz happy defense. Bug plays are unacceptable. At their core foundation, the colts are still a Tampa-2. Tampa-2 absolutely cannot give up big passing plays. It defeats the whole purpose of playing the scheme.
  • Ray Fisher did a good job handling the coffin corner punt in the second. Ray also had a nice hit in the second to cause that fumble. However, in coverage both he and Brandon King had issues with Chad Jackson.
  • Javarris James is a nice, physical runner. I've been impressed with him in the kid's two preseason games. He initiates contact well.
  • Terrail Lambert seemed to own the second half. In the second half, Lambert made a great tackle on Jackson after Bills quarterback Brian Brohm was pressured. Lambert also covered very well. He finished the game with 9 tackles. Lambert might beat out Fisher and King for the fifth corner spot.
  • Regarding Curtis Painter, it's nice that he had a decent bounce back game from the disaster that was last weekend. I say 'decent' because even though Painter had a perfect QB rating for the game, I'm still seeing too many mistakes. Painter really panics in the pocket when things break down, and I have no patience for stuff like that. This is why I have a sense Tom Brandstater will get a shot at replacing Painter. Brandstater seems much more poised and confident. I cite his near sack but resilient fourth quarter run as an example.
  • The two throws that gave Painter confidence were the two long passes to Taj Smith in the second quarter. Both were against Bills corner Ellis Lankster, who was awful. I mean, truly awful covering Smith. Were talking David Macklin bad. On the 43 yard TD throw to Smith, Taj ran the exact same route he had smoked Lankster on the play before. Lankster, lost and frustrated in the coverage, essentially tried to tackle Smith before the ball landed in his hands. Flag. Smith catches it anyway, strolls into the endzone, celebrates.
  • Painter's one in-completion, in the second half, should have been a pick six. There's a reason Ashton Youboty for the Bills is a third string corner, and his drop of Painter's gift is why. Painter's next throw was a useless dump-off to Javarris James. Again, Painter's whole night was made because of two throws against an awful coverage corner. I need to see more than that to say he has truly "bounced back."
  • More so than Curtis Painter, Taj Smith absolutely needed to have a bounce back game. He did. Nice job, Taj. Smith played better than Painter, and thus made Curtis look better than he is.
  • Second string Colts defense utilized a lot of Eric Foster at defensive end and Mitch King at tackle. King really does have a tremendous motor and get outstanding line penetration. Bills guard Cordaro Howard was having trouble dealing with him, and was called for a hold on a good run by former-Colts back Chad Simpson. Without that hold, King likely drops Simpson in the backfield.
  • Mike Newton played better against the Bills. Saw some nice blitzing from the guy who might need to step in for Jamie Silva, who was IRed last week.
  • Saw some good line penetration in the second half by Ricardo Mathews, a kid who has been invisible for this team all preseason. Ervin Baldwin also had some good rush from his DE spot. I spent a lot of time watching Jerry Hughes, and yes the kid is very raw. He isn't ready for real NFL games. Lots of speed. Lots of ability. But, he isn't there yet.
  • Yeah, Tim Hiller is getting cut. He's pretty awful.
  • Jacques McClendon and Brandstater need more reps. The fumble in the fourth looked like McClednon's fault.

All in all, I have to say I saw many, many positives out of this Colts team in their second preseason outing. Some players that really needed to play better to have any hope at making this 53-man roster did so. I also have some very high praise for the Colts second string defense. They have some players there. Colts seem very deep, and very talented, on defense this year.