If you watch either of the Indianapolis Colts' first two preseason games, you'll notice many issues. The offensive line, the backup quarterbacks, the lack of depth across the board - there are plenty of issues to point to. But one of the most glaring issues through two games has been the tackling.
The team's tackling has been very bad in the first two games, and it's made even worse by the fact that it's something so fundamental. The backup quarterbacks are (hopefully) not going to see a meaningful snap this season. Many of the depth players will be cut. And there might be "growing pains" along the offensive line. But tackling? That's fundamental football. That's basic. But so far for the Colts, it has been anything but normal.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Colts have missed 38 total tackles over the first two preseason games - 19 in each game. 27 of them have been on defense while 11 have come on special teams (which has also been an issue through the first two games). 24 different players have missed a tackle so far, and Jonathan Newsome (3), Colt Anderson (3), David Parry (3), Cam Johnson (3), D'Qwell Jackson (2), Amarlo Herrera (2), Henoc Muamba (2), Jerrell Freeman (2), Clayton Geathers (2), and Winston Guy (2) have all missed multiple.
Head coach Chuck Pagano noted on Monday that tackling is something the Colts will continue working on. "Nobody in the building was pleased with the tackling so we'll continue to work on that," Pagano said. "I take full responsibility for that because we go thud during training camp. Just going back to the injury thing and trying not to lose guys. It's hard and that's why you have preseason and that's why you have these games is to iron out the kinks and develop and do those kind of things and hopefully we'll see progress."
Pagano reiterated that there is a large emphasis in training camp on keeping players healthy, so while there is still hitting, you don't want to lose anyone. And the positive out of that is that the Colts managed to get out of training camp this year without a significant injury. But the flip side of that is, when you get to the games, there's going to be more of an adjustment period. "The game speed and getting used to playing again and the conditioning part of it, it's different. You get to the game, it's totally different," Pagano said. "Playing on a big field with a lot of space, some space is bigger than others so to speak, but I think it's just something that you look at it. It's not effort, lack of effort and toughness and those things. It isn't guys turning down stuff, it's just a fundamental part of the game and we're going to get better at it and we'll continue to work at it. But these games are definitely where you find out exactly where you are and then you learn and grow from it and get better."
That's certainly the hope: that the Colts use preseason as a time to improve on these issues. And, after all, as Pagano notes the preseason is important especially since camp isn't as hard anymore. It makes preseason more important, but it also might lead to a few rough patches during those games. That has been the case with the Colts' tackling, and they'll work on fixing it. Of course, many of the players who missed tackles might not make the 53-man roster and it is a time to get acclimated to playing a real game again, but it's still an issue that needs to be fixed. Because, for the Colts in the first two games, the missed tackles have piled up and have really hurt them. They can't afford to have that once the regular season arrives.