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2011 NFL Preseason Recap: Rams 33 - Colts 10

Last night, the Rams pretty thoroughly kicked the snot out of the Colts. Part of the reason this happened is the Colts simply don't care about preseason whereas the Rams, who didn't have many people at the dome last night, are trying to re-engage their fanbase by proving to them that the 2011 Rams team is good. Thus, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and the No. 1 offense played well into quarter two while the Colts had their third stringers out there midway through the first quarter.

The other reason this game was a blowout was the horrendous play of the quarterbacks, in particular Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. I paid extra special attention to both men during the game, and now having rewatched it twice (yes, I hate myself THAT much) it's pretty obvious that Painter has not progressed much from last year.

I also followed Drake Nevis and Kevin Thomas. Both had strong games.

Two other players jumped out at me, and not for good reasons. Jerry Hughes and Mike Pollak very much needed to play well in a game like this in order to shut up their more vocal critics (like me, for instance). In fact, I came into this game specifically choosing not to focus on them. However, their play last night was so atrocious that it was hard NOT to notice them, Hughes especially. I tweeted last night that all the folks crowing about Hughes looking good in camp needed to temper that excitement. We need to see Hughes look good in a game. Any game. Last night, he was given a golden chance to showcase his growth, and he flopped big time.

And in case you still care about this, Hughes went toe-to-toe with Rodger Saffold last night. Saffold was the player the Colts passed over to take Hughes. Bill Polian himself said the Colts scouting department graded Saffold as a right tackle. Well, Saffold has played LT for much of his early career, and played it well. Last night, Saffold dominated Hughes. He never let him within reach of his QB.

Gonna say the Polians and their scouting department really screwed up on that evaluation.

After the jump, we breakdown the game.

  • Curtis Painter on the first series was dreadful. He missed badly on a routine swing pass in the left flat for Joseph Addai on the first play. On third down, he BADLY overthrew Austin Collie, who had a step on his defender, and the ball landed in the hands of Quintin Mikell.Just a terrible throw. No way to disguise that.
  • Donald Brown looked good last night. A couple of very solid runs. He hit the holes without hesitation, and utilized his speed to get into the secondary.
  • Mike Pollak started at guard, but was moved to center after the first series. Pollak was equally dreadful there as he is at guard. On a Donald Brown run during the second offensive series, NT Fred Robbins pushed Pollak three yards back into the backfield. Brown, who was running right, had to cutback left and gained 5 yards out of the play. However, the play was clearly going right, and because Pollak was utterly dominated, Brown had to make something out of nothing.
  • In the third offensive series, the first play was a run right and, once again, Pollak got overpowered. He's two yards back with Robbins while the Colts RB (can't tell who) is just getting back to the LOS.
  • Orlovsky came in after just two series by Painter. On the night, the former Texans and Lions QB threw two INTs. However, the first Orlovsky INT was all on WR Chris Brooks. Brooks was the slot receiver on a hot read. Orlovsky put a fast ball right into his hands. In the big leagues, you must make that catch. Brooks didn't. It bounced off his hands and into a Rams defender's. Chris Brooks will get cut for that. NFL WRs must make that grab. No excuses.
  • As previously stated, Jerry Hughes started at LE last night in place of Dwight Freeney. Freeney isn't hurt. The Colts just know that without Freeney, they have no pass rush. Thus, keeping him out of 'meaningless' games is a priority. Hughes was dominated all night. On 3rd and 5 inside 20 after Orlovsky's first pick, Hughes tried to do a spin move on Saffold. Hughes never touched Sam Bradford's jersey all night. If didn't matter if Saffold was on him, or Joe Blow Backup.
  • Compare Hughes to Rams first rounder from 2011, DE Robert Quinn. On third-and-12 for Colts during Orlovsky's second series, Quinn bull-rushed his way to Orlovsky, forcing him to throw early. Quinn showed power and speed in that one rush, and almost got a sack. In fact, he was double-teamed on the play, by both Linkenbach and Jacques McClendon, and STILL managed to pressure Orlovsky. He bull-rushed right through both of them.
  • Javarris James got a great stick on the punt return in the first quarter. He blow up the returner just has he fielded the punt. Nice job. Joe Lefeged was also there to clean up the play.
  • Drake Nevis impressed me last night. On the Rams fourth series, he looked very good. On the first play, he broke through two blockers and pressured Bradford into an incompletion. In fact, he actually got to Bradford and dragged him down, all while the tackle was holding him (no flag). Very impressive pass rush there from the UT position.
  • The Rams fourth series pitted their first team offense v. Indy's second and third string defense. Rams converted several third downs to, eventually, score a TD. 3rd-and-5, converted. 3rd-and-7, converted. Bradford picked on Brandon King, No. 37, a lot on third down. They ran the same exact play both times to Lance Hendricks the TE. Converted 4th-and-1 later in drive as well.
  • Nevis was very good getting down the line and cleaning up running plays last night. On 1st-and-10, with :20 left in first quarter, the ran right at Jerry Hughes and gained 4 yards. Hughes was blocked out of play by Saffold. Nevis came down the line and cleaned up RB.
  • At the beginning of second quarter, Colts had to use a TO because they had the wrong defense on the field. That's pretty inexcusable. After the break, how can the coaches get the wrong personal on the field? They had Philip Wheeler lined up against a slot receiver. It would have been a TD, easy. Colts burn TO and get nickel package on field. Bad coaching there.
  • At the beginning of the second quarter, the Colts had guys like Daniel Bedford and Courtney Brown in the game. The Rams had their starting offense still on the field. The Colts simply don't care.
  • Orlovsky, in second quarter, looked good. Stood tall in pocket. Completed nice out throw to TE Mike McNiel for a seven yard gain. On the third down (3rd-and-1) Orlovsky was flushed right because rookie Anthony Castonzo could not sustain his block. Don't ask me why the Colts are throwing on 3rd-and-1 when they've spent all this money and draft picks on getting Castonzo, Ben Ijalana, and Delone Carter (who was the back at that time).
  • On Colts second quarter series with 4:04 left, Castonzo missed an assignment and let Robert Quinn have a free shot at Evans. Stopped Evans short of LOS for negative gain. On third and 8, Orlovsky looked left, went back right and threw it to the sidelines. Taj Smith ran a bad route, and missed the catch. Orlovsky visibly annoyed with Smith after that.
  • Impressive running last night by Chad Spann. His kick returns were terrible (fumbled two of them, but didn't lose either one), but a couple of times as a RB he made something out of nothing, especially in third quarter. The 41-yard TD from Orlovsky to Taj Smith was a result of a play action fake. The Rams LBers bit on the fake because Spann was killing them. Result, easy TD. Good throw by Orlovsky.
  • Sometime late in the second quarter or early in the third, Mike Pollak sat and Kyle DeVan lined up at center. He looked very good playing the part. He held his blocks well in pass protection. On the 41-yarder, he cleaned up two blocks and Orlovsky wasn't touched.
  • The third quarter Orlovsky pick was simply a bad throw. Just a poor decision and the ball wasn't well placed. It wasn't nearly as bad as the Painter pick, but up until then Orlovsky had outplayed Painter.

Overall, the QBs were awful, Nevis was strong, and I liked the coverage of Kevin Thomas in the second half. Thomas did some nice things out there. A couple of times, he gave too much cushion for a a guy who is supposed to be a man coverage specialist, but overall not bad.

And despite some expected rookie mistakes, I liked what I saw out of Castonzo. He's clearly more talented and offers more at the LT spot than Jeff Linkenbach. I didn't focus on Ijalana much.

After the game, a noticeably subdued Jim Caldwell was not his usual 'Hey guys, it's not all that bad' self.

Direct quotes from Caldwell, via Tom James:

"A lot of miscues. We're not quite where we'd like to be right now. We've got a lot of work to do," JCaldwell said.

"We weren't as sharp as we'd like to be. And that's what we have to improve upon," JCaldwell said.

For those looking for positives, I offer these:

  • The Colts have more talent on their offensive line.
  • Drake Nevis looks like a very potent UT.
  • Special teams coverage of punts was very good.

The negatives:

  • Jerry Hughes is still a major bust.
  • Mike Pollak is a waste on the roster. There is simply no logical reason to play him at all, let alone start him.
  • The Colts back-up QB position is a mess.

Other notes:

  • Drake Nevis never lined up at NT. In fact, after watching him last night, he isn't one. So, Bill Polian saying he will play NT this year is either Polian blowing smoke, or Bill Polian being demented.
  • Philip Wheeler was all over the field. Very solid outing for him. At some point, they need to line him up as a DE.
  • I watched a bit of Ollie Ogbu and the Colts did indeed line him up at NT. He does look bigger than 285.
  • Tommie Harris didn't do much last night. The fact that people have been asking me, 'Did he play?' should give you a clue as to how ineffective he was.
  • The safety Lefeged and the linebacker Adrian Moten had strong outings last night. Lefeged will make the roster simply because he looks like a good special teamer.

Your thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

Special thanks to Turf Show Times.