Harrison's Mistakes Continue
C Jonotthan Harrison was put in an impossible situation when he got the start back in Week 5 against Baltimore. Many of us thought the move was premature, especially with how well A.Q. Shipley had been playing up to that point. On a pure talent standpoint, the move made sense. Harrison is a far better long-term prospect at the center position than Shipley. At this point, Harrison should have all but eliminated the mental errors he keeps having, i.e., getting the snap count wrong... again. His PFF numbers are almost all negative. People may say well he hasn't given up a sack yet, however, that is quite misleading. Yes, "technically" Harrison hasn't given up a sack. That's more to do with how good Andrew Luck has been at moving in the pocket and getting the ball away when under pressure. Most defensive coordinators will attack the weak spot of the offensive line and it's no surprise the Colts see a significant number of "Double A Gap" blitzes, which is when two rushers line up on each side of the center and go. Quite honestly, from Harrison over to Cherilus the entire right side of the offensive line has been dreadful this year. If the Colts don't find some magic to fix, you can count on an early exit from the playoffs. This is of course assuming Houston doesn't catch the Colts since they are only one game back and have an arguably easier schedule. The Colts vs. Texans game on December 14th may very well decide the division.
Fleener Showed Up
For all my ranting about Coby Fleener, the guy really showed up when the team needed him. The Patriots did what the Patriots do and took away the Colts's best weapon in T.Y. Hilton by bracketing him with a safety over the top and put Reggie Wayne on Revis Island. That left the heavy lifting in the passing game to go to Fleener and he produced big time. It's good to see him get a bit more open space, especially with another injury to Dwayne Allen keeping him out of the lineup for a few weeks.
On a bit of a side note, Revis didn't seem particularly "islandish" this time around. It seemed as if Reggie Wayne was getting open due to his savvy route running. Too many times Wayne just couldn't bring the ball in. Credit that to Revis or whatever, but it didn't seem like the Colts were in any way afraid to throw his way like teams would have been in the past.
A quick congrats to Anthony Castonzo for scoring his first NFL TD and doing an epic Street Fighter II inspired celebration. Loved that creativity in both the play calling and the dance itself.
To all the ESPN personalities that say Andrew Luck can't win the big game, you're full of it. The Colts defense cost the team this game. The Patriots had 10 possessions in the game, excluding the end of the first half kneel down, and scored TDs on 6 of them. SIX! That includes going for four straight TDs to start the second half and having their fifth and final possession being one to drain the clock. I mean come on now. A former practice squad player, as in a guy that was on the practice squad this very year, rushed for over 200 yards and four TDs against a team that was built to "stop the run." The Colts have the most 300 pounds players on their roster in the league and a team that traded away their Pro Bowl Guard at the beginning of the season ran for 246 yards compared to the Colts 19 total rushing yards. Every defensive lineman was blown off the ball this game. It was pathetic and I hope the coaching staff prints the number 246 out and puts it on every defensive player's locker for the rest of the season.
Also, Tom Brady had all day to throw in the second half and from what I've heard he had a perfect passer rating in the second half. The Colts, for the second time in three games, have shown that against better offensive lines, they cannot get consistent pressure on the QB. Newsome has shown some ability and Walden played well again but having those two as the Colts primary rushers scares me.
D'Qwell is a Liability
D'Qwell Jackson is a liability on the football field. He's an ILB that can't stop the run. He's an ILB that can't drop into coverage. The only thing he's shown the Colts he's actually good at is running about 10 yards behind a RB or TE after getting beat in coverage. Several of us questioned this signing when it happened and more are questioning it now, as they rightfully should be. His contract structure won't allow him to be cut until after next season so get used to 52 in other player's highlight reels. Come to the dark side my friends. We've got cookies.
On a positive note, Laron Landry had his second positively graded game of the season with a +0.1 rating on PFF playing a total of 8 snaps. For a bigger safety, one would have expected him to play a bit more but given his inconsistency in tackling, it's not that big of a surprise he saw the field for just over 10% of the defensive snaps.
Pagano Makes Questionable Decisions
In reality, every NFL coach gets questioned from time to time on their decisions in prepping for the game and in the game itself. However, Coach Pagano had this team vastly unprepared for New England. Did anyone think it was shocking that Bill Belichick decided to run the ball down the Colts throat this week? If so, have you watched any Colts vs. Patriots game in the past decade? It is the same story with different players.
Preparation aside, his in game decisions leave many scratching their heads. For instance, when he chose to kick a 53 yard field goal at the beginning of the 3rd quarter instead of going for it on 4th and a short 1 after the defense had gotten gashed the time before. Yah, Vinatieri has been automatic and it put the Colts down only one score, but everyone and my mother saw the writing on the wall with how the Patriots came out of halftime, 6 runs on 8 plays. It was classic Hoodie. Get a lead early, shorten the game by running the rock.
Another in game issue for me was Pagano's inability to adapt at halftime to the Patriots running game and his inability to adapt in game when the Patriots kept running it. He's got to have this team prepared to adjust on the fly when something like that happens. I believe it was Werner, and correct me if I'm wrong, who said after the game the Patriots were just running the same play over and over again and the Colts just couldn't stop it. I find it hard to believe Belichick came up with this new play the Colts and their coaching staff had never seen before just for this game. So when a player says a team ran the same play over and over again, that should frustrate everyone and cause you to question the team's preparation.
Just for the sake of conversation, who would rather have Bruce Arians as head coach at this point? He's doing a great job with significantly less talent than what's on the Colts roster. I was torn on what to do when Pagano came back since Arians did such a phenomenal job in his absence. Also, who would be interested in replacing Pagano with Jim Harbaugh if he became available? I know these are likely moot points but you can't honestly say you're completely satisfied with what Pagano has done up until this point. He's a great "rah rah" guy and a great role model but that doesn't necessarily make him a great coach. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.