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Points of Emphasis: Colts vs. Texans Week 6

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Stampede Blue's Stephen Reed gives his Points of Emphasis following the Colts Thursday night win against Houston.

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Offense

Harrison Shows Promise

Rookie OC Jonotthan Harrison improved significantly in his second game starting under center for the Colts. In the two games he's started, he's allowed a single QB hurry. No sacks. No hits. That's exactly what Colts management and fans want from him. PFF similarly backs up what I saw on film. Here's a little video of Harrison going one on one with All-World DE J.J. Watt, who is circled in red:

Harrison vs. Watt

As you can see, Harrison plants Watt into the ground going one on one while Louis can't reach his rusher and Cherilus gets rolled underneath Harrison and Watt. This wasn't even the only time Harrison threw down a Texan defender either. It happened several other times throughout the game.

Overall, it looked like Harrison had a much better game. The botched snap that led to the J.J. Watt TD wasn't entirely his fault as Louis mistakenly tapped him to signal for the snap and Harrison simply did his job. Harrison does need to get better in the run blocking area but looks athletic and strong enough to be able to improve at it over time.

Cherilus Continues to Struggle

Cherilus on the other hand continues to struggle. He seems to have lost the quick first step to slide out and cut off edge rushers and he's never been particularly powerful to simply blow a guy off the line. In the past two games, Cherilus has given up 2 sacks, 4 QB hits and 4 QB hurries. The rest of the Colts line combined has given up 1 sack, 5 QB hits and 11 QB hurries (4 of those likely due to J.J. Watt). The only sack was given up by Hugh Thornton against the Ravens, who also gave up 2 QB hits and 1 QB hurry in that game alone. Against Houston, Cherilus was the only OL to give up a sack or a QB hit, and he didn't even go against J.J. Watt.

To add insult to injury, Cherilus is by far the worst rated OL on the Colts roster with a -9.9 overall grade and a -7.1 grade in pass blocking. The next closest OL is OG Hugh Thornton with a -1.4 pass blocking grade. On top of that, he's the 7th overall worst rated OT in the league and the 4th worst RT and 3rd worst RT in pass blocking, with only 7th Round Rookie Seantrel Henderson and 5th Round second year RT Jordan Mills being worse. So basically the guy making the highest average salary for a RT is playing a little better than a 7th round rookie. If you watch the tape, all of this makes sense. Cherilus is getting blown away by speed rushers and can't handle a swim or rip move. He needs to get his act together to better protect QB Andrew Luck.

Defense

Manusky Calls Another Gem

I feel like a broken record here but DC Greg Manusky and HC Chuck Pagano are absolutely brilliant at scheming free blitzers. They are calling twists, stunts and blitzes that confuse opposing offensive lines. They are bringing safety blitzes with SS Sergio Brown, something we saw much less of when currently suspended Laron Landry played. My only concern is that once the lead was 24-0 in the first half, it seemed like the defensive play calls became very vanilla. I understand they wouldn't want to show their hand but I'd rather the coaches ease up in the second half, not second quarter. Overall, the defense has played great these past two weeks, cough cough without Landry cough. I sincerely hope they can keep this up.

Werner and Toler Step Up

OLB Bjoern Werner has played great the past two weeks. Against the Texans, he had 1 sack and a QB hit. It's good to see Werner and the coaches emphasizing his speed off the snap rather than having him play as a stand up rusher each time.

Despite what the PFF grades say, they have him at a -0.7 in pass coverage, Toler played much better in my opinion. Toler's biggest problem was his timing this week. The TD catch Andre Johnson made was phenomenal but had Toler timed his jump properly, he either intercepts the pass or at the very least knocks it down. Also, Toler wasn't nearly as "grabby" with WRs, or at least he wasn't penalized for it, so that's always a positive. It helps that Houston QB Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't have the ability to really challenge Toler but only a handful of QBs for the rest of the season really have that ability. Overall, I was more pleased with Toler's performance this week.

Special Teams/Coaching

McAfee the Magnificent

P Pat McAfee is having an All-Pro kind of year. He leads the league in Net Punting Average with 44.8 net yards per punt. He is the 3rd highest rated punter and highest rated kicker in the league with 33 of his 37 kickoffs going for touch backs or 88.2% of his kicks aren't returned. Oh and he's become a weapon with his unbelievable prowess with onside kicks. This week, he caught Houston sleeping and recovered his own onside kick. You'd think teams would be a bit more cautious on kickoffs after the Colts pulled a surprise onside kick against Tennessee. You can bet they won't take kickoffs for granted anymore.

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