The Indianapolis Colts lost 23-11 to the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game on Saturday, and while it was better than their first game, there were still plenty of issues that need fixing. Let's take a look at some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from the game.
It's almost not fair to put Luck in this category because he's almost always good, but when you have a game like the Colts did on Saturday night, it's always nice to read about how good the starting quarterback is. Under quite a bit of pressure during his three drives, Luck wasn't able to do a ton on the first two possessions. On the third, however, he led the Colts 89-yards down the field for the touchdown, capping it off with a two-point conversion. When Luck left the game, he had his team up 8-6. On the day, Luck completed 5/9 passes, though one was flat-out dropped and a couple of others were because of pressure. He threw for 71 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) and ran the football in for a touchdown himself from five-yards out. He also hit Andre Johnson for the two-point conversion. It wasn't the prettiest showing by any means for the starting offense, but Luck was still Luck, which is a very good thing.
The rookie running back continues to impress. On Saturday night, Robinson rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries (averaging 4.7 yards per attempt) and also caught a pass for six yards. In two preseason games, he has rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries (4.6 yards per attempt) and has added two receptions for 17 yards. He runs hard and almost always has a positive play no matter what the circumstances, and his terrific cutting ability has already been on display. If there has been a star of the preseason for the Colts so far, it might be Josh Robinson.
The first-team defensive line
I thought that, overall, the first team defensive line did a pretty good job. Kendall Langford did a nice job and showed off some impressive moves, and Arthur Jones made some plays as well. Nose tackle David Parry saw reps with the first team and continued to impress, and then even Henry Anderson, when playing with the first team, made a great tackle in the backfield. And the Colts starting defense held the Bears to just 2.7 yards per attempt running the football - which includes a 13-yard quarterback scramble. The starting defensive line did their job on Saturday - as did others, like Erik Walden and Trent Cole.
Some might think this still belongs in the "ugly" category, and when looking at the two games combined, I'd certainly agree. But on Saturday night it wasn't as big of an issue as it was last week (which isn't saying much at all), but it was still a big deal. And a problem. Take, for instance, Jeremy Langford's rushing touchdown for the Bears. He started off running to the left side but was met in the backfield by several Colts defenders. It seemed certain they would stop him for a loss. Instead, he broke free and took off running to the right side of the field and scored. It was at least the third score this preseason that was a result of a player missing a tackle that I can remember, and that's obviously not good. The team still needs to play fundamental football and bring the ballcarrier to the ground, something they haven't done consistently yet this preseason and struggled with again on Saturday.
The Colts have had great special teams units recently, but in the preseason they haven't been up to that level. Pat McAfee has done a good job punting, but he's outkicked his coverage - because the coverage units haven't done a good job. I think this is illustrated best by the Bears' field position with their starting offense. Jay Cutler and the starters played four drives and their worst starting field position was at their own 37 (by comparison, the best starting field position for Andrew Luck and the Colts' starters was their own 21). They started at their own 40 thanks to a kickoff going out of bounds, at their own 49 thanks to a 29-yard punt return, at their own 37 thanks to a 22-yard punt return, and then at their own 42 thanks to a 31-yard kickoff return and a 15-yard penalty added on. The special teams units need to get better.
It's preseason, so the games are expected to be sloppier. But the Colts committed eleven penalties on Saturday night (for 99 yards). They were called for five offensive holding penalties, one defensive holding, an illegal contact, an illegal block above the waist, a face mask, two false starts, and an unnecessary roughness. Again, you expect some sloppiness in the preseason, but the Colts need to clean up some of those penalties.
The starting offensive line really struggled to protect Andrew Luck on Saturday night. Jack Mewhort whiffed on several blocks (including on just the team's second and third offensive plays of the game), and even Anthony Castonzo was beat. The entire starting unit as a whole did not do a very good job whatsoever at protecting their quarterback and they struggled to keep him clean and off the ground. When that quarterback is Andrew Luck, it become especially important to protect him, but the Colts couldn't do that on Saturday. Hopefully that's not a sign of things to come, because it was rough. The Colts need to get better in that area, obviously.
The backup quarterbacks
Matt Hasselbeck on Saturday was 6/9 for 59 yards with an interception and a lost fumble. Bryan Bennett was 1/7 for 17 yards. Combined, the two backup quarterbacks completed just 7/16 passes (43.8%) for 76 yards (4.75 yards per attempt) with a pick and a fumble - and it was better than last week's performance. Between the two combined in the two preseason games, the backup quarterbacks are completing just 38.8% of their passes (19/49) while averaging 3.73 yards per attempt (183 yards total), and they have turned the ball over five times (three picks and two lost fumbles) while not scoring a touchdown. They have combined to post a 24.4 passer rating. That's awful.