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Upon Further Review: Colts vs. Giants

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Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson went back and looked at the film, and here are his additional notes and insights that he saw from the Colts first preseason game against the Giants.

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In stunning fashion, the Indianapolis Colts blew a 26-point fourth quarter lead Saturday night in a 27-26 loss to the New York Giants.  There was a lot the Colts third string offense and defense did wrong in the fourth quarter, but the first and second strings were very positive.

I wrote my initial thoughts shortly after the game ended, but I went back and looked at the film and jotted down several more observations and notes.  Let's take a look:

  • Loucheiz Purifoy had a good game.  He looked good on defense and had some good coverage, and he helped himself out on special teams as well.  He returned a couple of punts and was impressive there, and he also made a nice special teams tackle on the opening kickoff.  Defensively he was impressive, and his special teams play should only help his chances.
  • There was an interesting play design on the first defensive series of the game for the Colts, and it came on third down after two good run stops.  The Colts blitzed LaRon Landry and dropped Bjoern Werner into coverage.  I'm not sure I love the Colts dropping their best pass rusher (without Mathis) into coverage in a 3rd and long situation, but I absolutely love how Greg Manusky is changing things up and being aggressive with his blitzing.
  • I was wrong about Kelvin Sheppard.  I didn't go any further than the two penalties in my post-game notes, but on twitter I said that he didn't have a good game.  And that was wrong.  Certainly, both penalties were bad, and without All-22 it's hard to tell whether they really were penalties or not, but it looked like on both plays Sheppard just wrapped up the receiver/tight end, and that's a no-no.  But other than that, I actually think that Sheppard played very well, particularly against the run.  He made several very nice run stops and was in on a lot of plays.  When he was asked to cover things got a bit more shaky, but it still wasn't terrible and his run defense made up for any failures in pass coverage.  Sheppard needs to avoid those penalties, but I thought he actually looked good against the Giants in a whole half of playing time.
  • A bit unnoticed aspect of D'Qwell Jackson's sack was the blitz by cornerback Darius Butler out of the slot corner position.  Butler took out the running back blocker and caused Eli Manning to step up in the pocket, right into the blitzing Jackson.  It was another example of a nice blitz dialed up by Manusky.
  • Jonotthan Harrison looked good Saturday night.  I was even more impressed when I went back and watched the film.  He did a very good job blocking, and the Colts were also helping him out some with assignments and stuff like that.  Harrison's performance was very impressive and very encouraging.
  • Lance Louis, on the other hand, struggled while playing with the first team offense at left guard.  He got beat and pushed back on a couple of plays.
  • Hakeem Nicks looked really good.  Beyond just the stats, Nicks looked good.  He ran good routes, made some nice catches, broke tackles, and gained yards after the catch.
  • Trent Richardson didn't have a great game.  He still looked like last year's Trent Richardson.  A lot of fans want to blame the performance on the offensive line, and we'll get to that in a minute.  First, however, I do need to note that there were a couple of very encouraging plays from Richardson where he made a quick, sharp cut and looked good.  If he can do more of that, it'll be huge.  Now, as for the line, I agree - the line didn't do Richardson any favors.  But for a first round pick, he needs to be able to make plays, not just run through a hole.  That's the problem - he's not making plays.  When he makes a sharp cut like he did a few times, he's making a play.  Most often, though, he's just hoping the line opens up a hole so that he can get yards.
  • On one play, Greg Toler had a ten-yard cushion on Victor Cruz before the snap.  Down the field, Cruz had Toler beat by two steps.  Unfortunately, the camera angle doesn't allow us to see what happened, but I want to know how Toler could give up a ten-yard cushion and allow the receiver to get a couple of steps on him like that.  All that said, however, I thought Toler had a good game overall.
  • Coby Fleener absolutely has to catch that pass on 3rd and 3.  He has to.
  • I LOVED Chuck Pagano going for it on 4th and 3 from the Giants 36, even though the Colts had a 10-point lead.  I loved the decision from Pagano.
  • This defense is playing very fast.  It's impressive to watch, and the players are really flying to the ball.  That has been a big part of the improved run defense too, in addition to Arthur Jones and Josh Chapman (who both looked good against the Giants) - players are flying to the ball.  This is a defensive unit that is playing very fast.
  • Dwayne Allen did a better job at fullback than Mario Harvey did.
  • Cameron White did a better job at fullback than Mario Harvey did.
  • Seriously, Harvey wasn't that impressive against the Giants at all.
  • And while we're on that note, I actually thought White did a good job at fullback.
  • Joe Reitz really struggled at left tackle.  Here's why I'm not concerned: he's much better at guard than he is at tackle.  The Colts keep playing him at tackle, but I think he's a better guard.  We saw against the Giants his struggles at tackle.
  • Tackle Matt Hall, however, made Reitz look incredible.  Playing at right tackle, Hall got beat on what seemed like every single play.  I know that's a bit of an exaggeration, but he was beat a ton.  It was bad.
  • Da'Rick Rogers' night was a mixed bag.  He made a great play for a touchdown, fighting off the press and creating separation to catch a scoring pass, but he also had a penalty called on him and he gave up on another play where the pass was thrown for him but the Giants committed a penalty.  Rogers gave up on the route (probably to emphasize the penalty), so when the pass was thrown to him, he couldn't get it.  I know it's a minor thing, but he needs to continue that play, even despite a penalty.
  • In the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, Chandler Harnish was facing a third down with about 30 seconds left.  He avoided pressure and bought time, but he held onto the ball too long and took a sack.  In that situation, he has to get rid of the ball.  He's a third string quarterback, sure, but he still needs to know that.
  • Marcus Burley had an impressive night at cornerback, continuing to place him into competition and conversation with Loucheiz Purifoy.
  • Zurlon Tipton made some nice plays against the Giants.  He didn't put up the stats to make him pop out, but he made a couple of nice runs, got involved a bit in the passing game, and made a great block to protect his quarterback.  I hope he'll continue to get opportunities.
  • Andy Studebaker, for the second straight week, looked good when playing on defense.  He already has an edge on most players for his established work on special teams last year, and in the first two preseason games he has been very impressive at linebacker.
  • Zach Kerr looked really good against the Giants.  Really good.  He made a nice sack, but more than that he was in on a lot of plays and was doing what you want a defensive lineman to do.  He was very impressive and I think he's clearly established himself as a top-six defensive lineman on the roster.  He looked very good on Saturday.
  • Running back Phillip Tanner had a rough night - and more than just the fumble.  He had a bad game overall.
  • David Sims had a rough game too.  He was out of position and let himself get beat on a touchdown catch, had a penalty on the ensuing kickoff, and then was playing a lot as a part of the secondary that looked terrible in the fourth quarter.
  • Speaking of that secondary, in the fourth quarter the third string secondary looked terrible.  It was at it's worst on the final drive, when the Giants easily marched down the field for the game-winning score.  That secondary consisted of Dewey McDonald and David Sims at safety, Qua Cox and Johnny Adams at the outside cornerback spots and then Kameron Jackson at the slot corner.  None of them looked good on that last drive.
  • Qua Cox especially had a terrible final drive, getting flagged to put the Giants with a goal-to-go situation and then getting beat for the winning score.
  • Thomas Austin was also playing some guard with FN Lutz at center.  Just an observation, make of it what you will.

Any other observations you had from the game? Thoughts about mine? Drop them in the comments!