Preseason week one is in the books for the Colts and it is time to take a look at what we learned. We are going to take a look at the winners and losers in the aftermath of this matchup. So let’s get to it.
How do you not start with Andrew Luck? Luck overcame a major mental hurdle in his first appearance in an actual football game. He completed 6 of 9 for 64 yards and lead two drives that ended in field goals. The outcome here is much less important than the fact that Luck was able to get back in action. He even got his first hit out of the way, and survived it.
Luck did appear a bit nervous, forcing the ball to T.Y. Hilton a bit more often than we hope he will in the regular season, but when you are nervous, you go to the most reliable guys out there, and Luck said as much in his chat with Caroline Cann during the second half. This was a huge step forward for Luck’s progress, and he looked solid.
You always have to take preseason results with a grain of salt. Jordan Wilkins spent most of his playing time going against the deeper parts of Seattle’s depth chart. The rub there is that he was running behind the circus that was our offensive line (more on that later). What he showed in that time was that he is a runner with vision, patience, great balance, and a guy who falls forward for more yards.
On one play in particular, Wilkins should have been caught in the backfield for a loss. Instead, he was able to turn that play into about a 4-yard gain. He also took a short pass and turned it into 7 yards by going around the outside. This guy just has the feel of someone who will be a big impact player for the Colts as this year wears on.
Both Robert Turbin and Kasen Williams have spent time with the Seahawks, and both capitalized on their return. Turbin looked good on the ground and in the passing game. He lacks the explosiveness that is evident in the other backs, but his ability to get conversions and get it done in between the tackles will be important for this team. With his suspension looming, he needed a solid performance.
Kasen Williams was statistically the best receiver of the night. He wasn’t facing top competition, so that has to be considered, but the guy certainly did what he could to take advantage of his opportunities. He had a nice catch over the middle from Phillip Walker that displayed his elusiveness, breaking a tackle to get more yards. He then snagged a pretty downfield pass on a fade that picked up some nice yardage. In an intense receiver competition, he looked solid.
Many have viewed John Simon as an odd fit as a defensive end. Unfortunately no one seems to have told John Simon. After consistently looking like a guy who can be a difference maker, Simon was instrumental in the pass rush during the time with the first team defense on the field. He managed 1.5 sacks and made a noticeable impact. The Colts desperately need him to both continue that trend and to grow.
This one comes with possibly the largest grain of salt you’ve ever seen. However, Ridgeway went full blown “Attitude Era” WWF on the Seahawks’ backups. He looked like a force to be reckoned with. If he can translate that level of play to the first team, or even just as a rotational player against other first team offenses, it will be a huge lift to the roster.
Honorable Mentions – Skai Moore, Darius Leonard, Nate Hairston, Denico Autry
The last time I remember a player doing worse as a return man in a debut was when Phillip Dorsett tried it. Hines simply could not catch the ball. His work in the running game was forgettable, and he wasn’t used at all in the passing game. Again, I expect Hines to be sort of a chess piece for the offense, so his lack of real use there is not surprising given the stripped down version of the play calls for the preseason. However, his special teams play needs to be drastically better. Still, he’s a rookie playing in his first game in an intimidating environment. I’m far from ready to critique him too harshly for a case of the yips.
Glowinski is listed on the depth chart as the third string right guard. Perhaps that makes his almost impressively bad snap to Brad Kaaya that resulted in a Seahawks touchdown slightly more forgivable. However, the attempt to give Joe Haeg a break went so badly that Reich had him back in at center on the next drive. Ending up on the Sportscenter Not Top Ten is not a great plan for longevity with a team, and for a guy on the roster bubble, this one wasn’t great.
Speaking of not great, how about being the first guy to get ejected from a game as a part of the new Use of Helmet rule? That was Shamarko Thomas’ distinction in last night’s contest. Thomas basically provided a complete and perfect demonstration of exactly what not to do when tackling, both by lowering his helmet, launching, and resulting in a helmet to helmet collision that was avoidable. When you’re a journeyman safety on a roster with little depth in the defensive backfield, you cannot afford to make mistakes like that. It cost him an opportunity to get valuable on field time to impress the coaching staff.
I can’t kill Morrison for much. He missed a couple tackles, but you wouldn’t know that, because by looking at the game book, you cannot even tell he was on the field. He had no statistical impact on the game whatsoever. That isn’t going to fly for a guy who is competing for a roster spot. No matter what Chris Ballard tells the media about his affinity for Morrison’s work ethic, if he is getting outplayed by younger and more athletic guys, he won’t be around for long.
After lighting up training camp, one of the players I was most excited to watch go to work in this preseason game was Cain. Unfortunately, the only significant contribution Cain made in the first matchup was an illegal formation penalty. He was targeted just twice, and then left the game with a knee injury. Hopefully the injury is a minor one and he can recover quickly, because he will need to have a better showing down the stretch if he wants to compete for real playing time.
The Defensive Backs
The first team cornerbacks and safeties were a tough watch. It is true that Hooker and Geathers were not playing which is a substantial difference in talent on the field. However, the cornerbacks did very little to stop Russell Wilson marching the Seahawks down the field at will. This was especially hard to watch since they were without their best receiver, Doug Baldwin.
There simply weren’t many plays made by the secondary apart from Nate Hairston. Kenny Moore had the opportunity to make a play on a ball at one point, but didn’t get his head around soon enough and came up short. Quincy Wilson played in soft coverage and just didn’t seem able to close the gap quite fast enough to make plays on the ball. It is possible he will play tighter coverage when the more trustworthy safeties are on the field, but when your linebackers break up more passes than your cornerbacks, that is not ideal.