Offensive Line is Better Than Last Year
According to PFF, the Colts have one of the best lines in football. As was "discussed" ad nausea this past week, stats don't always tell the whole story but are very convenient to use when it suits your purpose. After getting a chance to finally watch the game tape, the offensive line is better than last year. However, that's not saying much. A.Q. Shipley has solidified the center position and his experience has helped all three of the guards who have played beside him this season so I won't focus on them. My issue again lies with RT Gosder Cherilus. There were several running plays where he just missed his block completely and caused Trent Richardson or Ahmad Bradshaw to get hit in the backfield or allow his man to get down the line to make the tackle. The more concerning issue for me is Cherilus's ineptitude with speed rushers or DEs that can effectively use their hands. Most of the times Luck got hit or pressured, it was from Cherilus getting beat man to man. He has significant trouble with swim or rip moves, but Andrew Luck generally saved him by stepping up in the pocket. If the Colts are paying him to be a top tier RT, he shouldn't need help against a below average Tennessee defensive ends.
The high grade of the line is also where I think stats or "advanced stats" don't tell the whole story. When you watch the line play, they don't win as often as you'd think. In fact, Luck, like Peyton Manning before him, makes the line look much better than it is. Luck has a sixth sense when moving in the pocket and rarely makes a move to put himself in harm's way. You see him slide, roll, and step up in the pocket better than any ten year veteran. This in itself could be included as to why the line has graded so well. The line may not give Luck time, but Luck finds a way to make time. It's uncanny.
Werner is Hesitant
Bjoern Werner is playing timid. I rarely saw him get a clean jump off the snap and he almost always took a "false step" when diagnosing the play. That tells me one thing. Werner is thinking too much. The coaches have started putting him on the line in his unorthodox stance to allow him a bit more comfort but it doesn't seem to be working. When Werner does explode off the snap and just go after the QB, he tends to get pressure. The problem is he doesn't do that nearly enough. Werner needs to take a lesson from Robert Mathis or watch some tape of Dwight Freeney, just pin your ears back and go. Play the run as you're heading for the QB. That would serve him well.
Play Calling is Vastly Improved
In this I mean play calling in all aspects of the game. First, giving Pat McAfee the option to on-side kick it is just brilliant. McAfee has been playing otherworldly this season and we only hope he can keep it up.
Pep Hamilton finally seems to be getting it. The offense has become much more Luck centered, which is exactly how it should be. I also love seeing Richardson and Bradshaw in together. There were a couple hand-offs to Bradshaw that were clearly designed to allow Luck to pitch or run the option on the outside to Richardson. I'd bet that'll be a play the Colts run later this year out of that set. Overall, it's tough to complain too much.
Greg Manusky and Chuck Pagano are outstanding at drawing up blitzes. I've said this for awhile now, with Mathis out, the only way the Colts are going to get pressure is through designed blitzes. That's exactly what the coaches have been doing. Bravo coaches, Bravo.
It will be interesting to see if the coaches can keep this up against more talented opponents.
The Hilarity that is Laron Landy
I know I don't normally add in anything outside of the actual game of the week but I can't help taking a jab at the most obvious PED user in the NFL, Laron Landry. As I mentioned in an earlier column, Landry put on a significant amount of weight, likely all muscle, between his third and fourth year in the league and then blew out his Achilles tendon, which is a very common side effect of steroid use. After all this time screaming he's clean and talking about all the time he spends working out, it turns out he's been dirty all along. I honestly can't wait to hear what excuse he comes up with. Could he claim they weren't really "performance enhancing" and corroborate his claim by telling the arbiter to look at his game tape?
On a serious note, I'm not sure the leaders of the team want Landry back in the locker room. I mentioned in my controversial column this summer, Landry seemed more like a guy who was all about the money and didn't care about the team. That he wasn't about "Building the Monster" of the Colts and more about "Building the Monster" that is himself. My sentiments seemed confirmed when beloved veteran Reggie Wayne made the harshest comments I've ever heard Reggie say about a teammate. For those that haven't seen it Wayne said (when on with Jake Query and Derek Schultz on 1260 in Indianapolis Monday night), "[Landry] is kind of a guy that sits by himself. We're not gonna judge. I'll just keep a question mark on my face." So not only was Landry inept on the field, he was alienating himself off the field and in the locker room. That's not good for a locker room culture, one of the team's highest paid players setting a terrible example. I doubt Wayne is the only one feeling that way either. But that's just my thought on it.