Each week, I have looked 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.
Week 11 brought us the best win of the season for our Colts. It was a truly dominating performance from start to finish. In a game like this one, there weren’t many plays that truly had an impact, sure there were big plays but this one was never in any danger of going the other way. In the end, everyone came through and gave me two plays to take a look at in T.Y. Hilton’s 68 yard touchdown catch and the sack that injured Marcus Mariota. If nothing else those two plays felt like nails in the coffin of this game... that took place in the second quarter. This game ended in the second quarter but since everyone agreed to four quarters of football, both teams soldiered on.
We’ll jump right into these plays and all they can teach us, starting with Hilton’s big touchdown.
T.Y. Hilton is really fast. We don’t know anything now, that we didn’t know before but there’s more to it. If you watch Hilton, there’s not much there, he just runs by Adoree Jackson. Jackson ran a 4.42 second 40-yard dash coming out of USC. According to his Wikipedia page, Hilton ran a 4.34 second 40-yard dash at the combine. So speed was some of that, but Jackson’s footwork wasn’t good — one false step and he couldn’t recover. T.Y. may still be faster than Jackson but he is rapidly approaching 30 and Jackson is 23.
Beyond those two players, it was first and ten on the Colts own 32 yard line, they came out in 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends). In an effort to match the Colts heavy formation the Titans drop eight players into the box and safety Kevin Byard was the deepest defender at the snap, lined up 9 yards from the line of scrimmage.
The Titans are begging Andrew Luck to throw this football. Why the Titans wanted to sell out to stop the run so badly is beyond me. Why key on that so much? Why put your corners on an island with no help over the top? You want to stop Marlin Mack? Well congratulations, nine defenders bit on the play action, Byard took himself out of the play and your best corner (possibly your best defender) couldn’t cover the Colts best receiver.
This is a play you call if you notice the other team creeping up consistently. Nick Sirianni and Frank Reich dialed this up after seeing what the Titans were doing. There were only two routes run, while everyone else stayed in to block. The Titans did what we talked about and Andrew Luck threw a perfect pass.
On to the injury of Marcus Mariota.
This looks like man cover two with a pattern match trade at the top of the screen. At first I thought this was a cover two zone but the corner at the bottom of the screen turns his hips to the outside to run with his receiver when he thought he was running a vertical route, had this been a true zone cover two, he wouldn’t have turned his hips, he would have released his receiver to the next level. The slot corner and the outside corner at the top of the frame, trade assignments when the outside receiver comes inside and the inside receiver continues vertically down field, so this isn’t man coverage in the most literal, traditional sense. It is a smart way to play these routes, with that said I’m not as familiar with this coverage as I probably should be. They’re in a cover two shell, obviously but as far as the rules the corner’s are following, I need to brush up.
Either way the coverage was good, but there were windows to fit a pass had Mariota had just a fraction of a second to get the ball out.
The second angle:
The Colts defensive front is in a wide-9 alignment. They are spread out and are coming downhill in a hurry. At the snap of the ball, the center goes to his left to help his left guard block Colts rookie Tyquan Lewis, which left Josh Kline one on one with Denico Autry. Autry starts outside and rips back inside to the space vacated by center Ben Jones.
Marcus Mariota doesn’t really have anywhere to go. He could have dropped deeper and try to escape to the outside but chances are he loses even more yardage and in that situation, no coach would ever tell his quarterback to do that, it’s the wrong thing to do. At that point, you just need to take the sack and play the next down.
Unfortunately, Mariota wasn’t able to play the next down as he was hit from multiple angles and suffered a non-serious injury. The last I saw, Mariota is expected to play in week 12, so while we took him out of this game we didn’t Derek Carr-in-2016 him.
Week 11 gave us a lot of great plays to look at, hopefully week 12 is just as kind to Colts fans.