First off, I'd like to make a quick apology for not giving you all my PoE for the Jaguars. My wife and I host Thanksgiving for our families and let's just say things got a little crazy with 19 people and 4 dogs in our single family townhouse. That being said, let's get to the real reason you're all here.
Gosder Strikes Again
I feel like a broken record here in saying this but Gosder Cherilus has been a sieve at RT this entire year for the Colts. Here's a series of photos I find particularly humorous given he's listed by the Colts to be 6'7" and 316 lbs.
As you can see, there's a bit of a problem when a DE can literally throw a team's RT to the ground with one arm. ONE ARM! Ugh. But that's not even the worst of it for me. My biggest concern is that he simply doesn't care. On the Colts opening play, Gosder's man beat him badly and strip sacked Andrew Luck, which Washington recovered. While that happens far too often for my liking from Gosder, that's not what caught my eye. After getting beat and turning to see Luck lying on the ground with the ball bouncing free, Cherilus just stood there watching with his hands on his hips. His attitude is my biggest concern. He knows with his contract the Colts can't cut him until after next season so it seems like he's taken a "why even try when I'm going to get paid anyway" kind of attitude. Further, because Grigson signed him to such a huge deal, I highly doubt Pagano has the authority to bench him and just see if another player like Xavier Nixon or Joe Reitz might be more productive or to put it better, less of a liability.
Fleener is Fool's Gold
Yes, statistically speaking Coby Fleener had one of his best games as a Colt. However, saying Fleener has turned a corner because of this game is foolish. The majority of Fleener's yard weren't because he made a great plays or shook defenders, it's because Washington blew their coverage. On the 73 yard TD reception, he showed the athleticism we all drooled over when he was drafted at the top of Round 2 but 40 yards of that came after the catch. Realistically, had Fleener not been covered by a vagabond OLB or if he goes down like he usually does, then it's a 33 yard catch and no TD. His other TD was on completely blown coverage. Washington looked to be in zone and S David Amerson, who seemingly was supposed to be covering the deep half, followed the WR to the middle, which left Fleener uncovered. That usually never happens against a real NFL team. Take those two blown plays off the board and Fleener's stat line is 3 receptions, 57 yards and 0 TDs, which is about what everyone expects. That's not even mentioning his unbelievable dropped pass, which would have netted him another easy TD. Fleener is still inadequate at best in run support and has obvious mental lapses. To be honest, I still prefer a TE combination of Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle over Fleener. But giving credit where it's due, Fleener did have an unusually good game this week and put together 3 good performances out of the last 4 games so at least he's trending upwards.
Laron in the Box
Finally! The Colts have listened to the masses and decided to put Laron Landry as an in the box safety. This is his natural position and he plays it very well. He's solid at running down hill to tackle running backs and has wonderfully timed his blitzes for several QB sacks, hits and pressures. It's no surprise he's excelling at this role, which is the same role he played with the Jets in his Pro Bowl season. PFF doesn't even have Landry listed in their coverage section, which actually only tells you two things. First, Landry didn't get thrown at while in coverage. Second, Colt McCoy is not a good QB for not picking on an obvious weakness. Regardless, I'm excited Landry is back to being used in his more natural position rather than the "interchangeable safety"/box of Swiss army knives role Pagano tried to have him play prior to his suspension.
D'Qwell Did Well?
D'Qwell Jackson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Washington. I'll be honest, I wasn't particularly impressed with his run support this week nor his pass coverage. However, he didn't get burned like he has in the past so that counts for something. He did have a scoop and score, which was impressive. My guess is Jackson won the award by default this week as there weren't any particularly dominant defensive players and only 4 other AFC players scored defensive TDs: McCourty of TEN in a blowout loss, the never forgotten in Indy Jerry Hughes for BUF in an ugly win, and a pair of Jaguars to get their second win of the season. With those as your other options, it's tough not to pick the guy on the team that can clinch their division, with some help, this weekend.
Returns on Investments
First, Pat McAfee is the best kicker/punter in the league and it's not even really close. He's such a versatile weapon in the field position battle, which makes it much, much easier on the defense. Second, Adam Vinatieri is still perfect on the season with his FGs and PATs, which just shows he's still got the leg and accuracy even over 40. It's a blessing to have such assets in the kicking game. Lastly, Josh Cribbs has been a huge success in my opinion. It's a very different feel when the Colts receive kickoffs or punts. There's always a bit of excitement knowing any return could potentially go for 6. This feeling is the polar opposite to what Colts fans have had in the past, where they were happy when a fair catch was called or a knee was taken and only prayed for the returner not to fumble. I remember actually getting angry when David Reed wouldn't take a knee on kickoffs and even more angry when he almost always got stopped within the 20. It's a nice feeling to be optimistic about special teams for a change.
I'm adding this section as a little bonus since I didn't write this article last week. Ryan Grigson is making more and more frustrating personnel decisions by the day. I've said since the final 53-man roster was announced that Josh Gordy does not deserve a spot on this team. He's not good in coverage and is adequate on special teams. If you need any proof, please watch the Washington game tape or any other time Gordy has been in on defense for that matter. In fact, in my final roster prediction, I had Marcus Burley and Loucheiz Purifoy making the roster with Gordy being cut. Gordy was a player Grigson traded for and has seemed unwilling to let go of despite every evidence saying that's the logical thing to do. Burley and Purifoy vastly outplayed him in the preseason, but as we all know, Burley was shipped to SEA for a late round pick and Gordy was kept. Then, late last week, Purifoy was cut for, and I'm paraphrasing here, a string of minor in-house disciplinary issues. Seriously?!? That's your reasoning Grigson? I'm sorry but minor disciplinary issues are considered minor for a reason, they don't mean that much. Purifoy, when healthy, was a great special teams player. He still has the second-highest rated special teams and corner back grades on PFF for the Colts with only McAfee and Vontae Davis out rating him. He's shown great ability on the field at positions where the Colts historically are weak or injury prone. He's got prototypical size and skills for Chuck Pagano's defense. People can argue he's an "end of the roster" guy but he shouldn't be. He should have been playing. When he got the chance, he showed he can play.
The way I see it is, first, a string of minor disciplinary issues shouldn't get a guy cut. Second, discipline comes from the top down. It's a culture thing. Pagano isn't a disciplinarian. Grigson doesn't seem like one either. Jim Irsay certainly isn't one. They all seem like "buddy buddy" guys. Guys who want to be your friend, have a beverage and talk football with you. And that's all well and good. But, if Grigson wants discipline, then someone who will be respected for instilling discipline needs to be put in place. I'm not promoting Pagano be fired or anything like that, just that Grigson needs to recognize he and Pagano can't run this team like Bill Belichick runs the Patriots out of nowhere. They've instilled a culture of fun and family, which is great, but if you let your kids grow to be teenagers and all the sudden want to lay down the law on things they've gotten away with for years, you'll have some issues. Admittedly, I have no idea what goes on in the locker room or the inside the facility so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I'd just wish the front office would look in the mirror before making rash decisions.
Lastly, I'm becoming more and more concerned with Grigson's hubris. He's clearly a very loyal person. However, he also seems very stubborn and short sighted in many of his personnel decisions. I'd bet Grigson kept Gordy over Burley in training camp because Grigson traded for him and doesn't want to be wrong. It's the same concept that keeps Trent Richardson starting over "Boom" Herron despite every shred of evidence saying Herron is the better play. It's alright to be wrong. I'm wrong weekly, probably daily. But I own up to it and move on. Grigson seems to have a problem admitting his mistakes. Yes, the Trent Richardson trade may go down as the worst trade in Colts history. It happens. But to allow it to perpetuate, only brings down this team and further cements my argument regarding Grigson's hubris. His immense pride and self-importance will lead to a mediocre franchise. Andrew Luck will single-handedly keep the Colts relevant. However, it's Grigson who can make them great. When he finally admits he made a mistake, he'll become a better general manager.
Wow, that got really philosophical there. My bad. If you like what I wrote or absolutely hate it, let me know and follow me on Twitter, @Reed_StephenT .