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5 Things to Watch: Colts Preseason Week 2

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Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Colts Defensive line vs Cowboys Rushing Attack

For those of you who were living under a rock, Ezekiel Elliott had a pretty good rookie season. 1,631 yards, 15 touchdowns rushing and another 363 yards and a touchdown receiving. He is a big back and running behind the Cowboys’ fantastic offensive line he was nearly unstoppable.

This is not a matchup the Colts usually do well in. Maybe that isn’t strong enough. This is a matchup that would usually result in running backs padding their stats by running roughshod up and down the field over our lackluster defense. But that is what makes this matchup so intriguing.

While we don’t know how long our starters or those of the Cowboys will be on the field, it will be very interesting indeed to watch Johnathan Hankins, Al Woods, and Henry Anderson attempt to deal with this offensive line and rushing attack. If they are able to be disruptive forces and let the linebackers go to work, it would definitely help give us a better picture of just how effective the revamped defense can be against the run this season. Solid play against such a talented rushing attack would allow many Colts fans to breathe a slight sigh of relief before remembering that our star quarterback still is not healthy.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott vs Colts Secondary

On the most recent episode of the Stampede Blue Colts Cast, our own Matt Danely talked with R.J. Ochoa of Blogging the Boys and R.J. said he expected Dak Prescott to work on his long ball some during the matchup with the Colts. That should not entirely surprise anyone, because the secondary is one of the youngest and least experienced groups in football.

In the first game, we saw CB Quincy Wilson do a good job of sticking with receivers, but struggle to track the ball and make a play on it. It would be great to see him show some ability to do that better in this matchup.

Vontae Davis has looked incredible all off-season and pitting him against a talented quarterback and a receiver like Dez Bryant will be a fun matchup to watch. Also, we will get to see T.J. Green spend some time at cornerback after making that switch this week from safety. It is unclear how early he could play, but it makes sense that if he spends time with the 1s that he will be a target.

This group has a lot of inexperience and also struggled with tackling, so doing well in a matchup with a very good quarterback would be a step in the right direction.

South Florida v Cincinnati Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Marlon Mack vs Cowboys Defense

This one is interesting for of couple reasons. First, it is our first chance to get a look at Marlon Mack. He has received praise from all over the place so far this off-season as having the kind of speed and ability that the Colts haven’t seen in a while. If that is true, we should be able to see it, and watching him break off a big time run against a real NFL defense would be greatly encouraging.

With that said, our offensive line has had major struggles and continues to have issues due to injury. One of my concerns with Mack is that he has a known tendency to want to bounce the ball outside too frequently. This does not work at the NFL level like it did in college. I have some concern that if the offensive line is underperforming, this tendency might rear its head and become more of a trend for Mack and impede his development.

The word so far since joining the Colts is that he has not done this often, but it is definitely worth watching.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Colts Tackling

For Colts fans this is the nightmare we cannot wake up from, but we have to see the defense make tackles more consistently and with better form than we have so far in the off-season. Pagano-coached defenses have struggled mightily with this as one of their most prominent and consistent problems. We simply must see improvement from the defensive players in their tackling to feel good about the Colts going into the regular season.

It is understandable that there will be some struggles in the preseason as many players are new and are getting used to the new scheme, but this cannot be a major issue of concern going into the season or this defense will have a hard time improving. Tackling is not scheme-specific and has to be better, plain and simple.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Quarterback Play

The drop off around the league in play for backup quarterbacks is bad. There are not even 32 starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league, so it is tough to complain that your backup is lousy when teams like the Jets have the starting situation they do. But the Colts QB play has been unsustainable if they want to have any kind of success going into the season. With Luck likely sidelined until right up to or just after the start of the season, a significant improvement has to be seen from the quarterbacks.

It will be interesting to watch this matchup and see how the coaches spread out reps for each player. Many of us here at Stampede Blue hope to see Stephen Morris get some more reps and that the Colts might slow down on giving Phillip Walker so much playing time. While Scott Tolzien has been pretty solidly labeled as the starter, it is hard to see how he gives this team any kind of chance to win given the play he has put on the field so far.

Walker has seemed to be out of his depth in size, ability, and decision making when he has been on the field. While Stephen Morris has not been anything overly impressive, he has provided a different kind of ability for a team just needing to hang on through however many games they find themselves without Andrew Luck. It would be good to see him pitted against better competition to see if his level of play can hold up.

All in all, this is another preseason game. We want to see individuals improve, and technique get better, but keep in mind that this is not a game that is planned and schemed for in the same way as a regular season game. The final score is not nearly so important as that players show improvement, win one-on-one matchups, and look like they are getting closer to regular season readiness levels.