Each week, I will look to break down two of the best or worst plays (or situations) from the previous game, but I’ll be listening to Stampede Blue to choose which plays should given a closer look as I hope to explain what happened in greater detail than the broadcasters can. Often you’ll hear “how did that guy get so open?” and I hope to be able to answer that question for Colts fans this season.
The Colts weren’t able to pull off what would have been a massive upset against the Patriots. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone who doesn’t actually play or coach for the Colts, but losing to the Pats is always disappointing.
I knew it would end in a loss, I believed that in the days and weeks leading up to the kick, yet when it actually happened I was truly upset. Football games rarely upset me anymore, it’s weird because all throughout my 20’s watching the Colts lose would ruin my entire Sunday. Since I’ve started breaking down so much tape I find myself less and less upset, I’m not less of a fan now, but I look at the game in a less emotional way. The Patriots, for reasons you can probably guess, bring that emotion back out.
This weeks poll chose Chester Rogers deep drop on 2nd down late in the 3rd quarter and Sony Michel’s long touchdown run. The Rogers drop wasn’t the play I expected everyone to choose, but after looking at the play, I’m glad it won. The Michel run is less surprising but frankly, it’s also less interesting, so we’ll get it out of the way first!
Before this play Sony Michel had 15 carries for 58 yards. We can’t discount this run, it happened, but he was averaging less than 3.9 yards per carry, in a game the Pats were dominating. This play is a disappointment but so far it’s a bump in the road for the run defense that hasn’t had many bumps along the way.
This is God’s play.
You can find this play being run (maybe not out of this formation but this play) at every level of football, in every country that plays American football. There’s nothing special about it, there’s nothing inventive, nothing that the Colts defenders haven’t seen thousands of times before.
Do you know why, after decades and decades, teams still use power? Teams still run power because you can run it 100 times and gain 1-5 yards each time and on the 101st you get the play above. Power works. It has always worked and if you have decent players who execute at a high level, it will always work, eventually.
Now that you’ve read about my personal love of power, what really makes Sony Michel’s run possible comes down to two key blocks. The first is from the left tackle and guard. This is a perfectly executed deuce block, seriously it’s better than examples you’ll find almost anywhere. If you coach offensive linemen and you needed to teach a perfect deuce block, this is the clip you’re going to show. They start by doubling up the defensive tackle, getting good movement until the left tackle releases to block the backside linebacker.
The second block that broke this play wide open isn’t from the pulling guard, it isn’t from Rob Gronkowski both of those were good blocks, but honestly those should be expected. The block I’m talking about is Julian Eldeman’s block on the cornerback. If Eldeman, doesn’t make that block no one is going to blame him (outside of Bill Belichick) he’s a wide receiver. Instead his effort ensures that Michel goes nearly untouched. Had he not made that block the corner on that side, at the minimum pushes Michel into a different angle toward Matthias Farley and this play likely ends 10-15 yards down field.
The Colts came out in an alignment that made this play possible, but had they come out ready to stop the run, Tom Brady would have changed the play anyway. The problem, for the Colts really comes down to the fact that no one made a play and the Patriots executed perfectly. It was a well timed play for the Pats and the Colts weren’t able to overcome it.
I saved this play for the last because it really excited me when I realized what happened.
The Patriots send five pass rushers and on the back end they’re playing a man cover one, which just means that they’re playing man to man with a single safety high to protect deep. This angle doesn’t really show why I’m excited about this play. It’s a pretty run of the mill design, against different coverage I might have been excited about the design but these are just iso routes against man. No big deal. Until you see the endzone angle:
Look at what Andrew Luck sees. His wide receiver has a step on the cornerback but the cornerback has help over the top coming from the middle of the field. Luck saw that and he realized that he has to fit this ball over the top of the corner but away from the charging safety, while still throwing a catchable ball.
This is a nearly impossible throw. The arm strength and touch combined with the timing and anticipation is nothing short of elite. This is an elite level throw and Andrew Luck, the guy we were all told for months was done (and a lot of people reading this article probably believed in some conspiracy to sell season tickets and that Luck was done), had not only the physical ability to make this amazing throw but he had the confidence that he could.
You don’t make this throw unless you’re sure you can do it. If anyone had any doubts that Andrew Luck was back, or completely right, or healed, or whatever description anyone wants to give it, you can’t watch this play and objectively say there’s something wrong with Andrew Luck. His arm is back. His mind is back. If anyone can put a team around him, these next 10 years can still be very, very exciting.