I’ve learned in my life that I’m not very good at sugarcoating things. Often, I find myself biting my tongue (or, deleting something I’ve typed out on any of a number of social media sites) and simply shaking my head in silence instead of wearing my emotions on my sleeve and potentially embarrassing myself or starting an argument with a stranger.
Last night’s game was awful. There. I said it. However, it wasn’t without purpose, and we’ll get into that in a minute.
It has become clear to me that just like other games I play, information is now king and neither team looked like it was trying to give anything away last night. For the record, the Ravens are not a very good football team and I don’t know if Lamar Jackson or even RGIII can save them, and we already knew that about Joe Flacco. I can say that with absolute certainty.
Going into the game, the Colts sidelined something along the lines of 20 players, which I’m assuming leveled the playing field. Andrew Luck was without Anthony Costanzo (who I’m sure is still better at his job one-legged than Le’Raven Clark), T.Y. was in pads but didn’t play (at least he catches balls you throw him), and the only position group on offense I came away really excited about was the tight ends.
On the other side of the ball, the defense forced a few three and outs early, caused turnovers and even the special teams play was above bar with the G.O.A.T. kicking a 57-yard field goal in the first half. Our boy Rigoberto Sanchez was apparently off his game, shanking a punt into the Colts sideline and although he did recover a fumble on a punt return that was caused by TE Ross Travis, his day was anything but great.
All that said, I think what I came away with just about the same things to say as anyone else.
Andrew Luck looked tight and less accurate than he did Week 1. The receivers on this team need to step up, because at this point, it’s TY and then a whole bunch of guys with big question marks after you say their name. Ryan Grant? Chester Rogers?
Without Mack, the Colts started with Christine Michael at running back (who Brett Mock says has no vision), then Jordan Wilkins came in and demonstrated that the running back doesn’t need to be flashy to be effective, and Nyheim Hines looks like he needs more practice.
If I remember correctly, and yes it was against the second team Ravens defense, Wilkins went like 4 straight carries at about 7 yards a clip until Baltimore stuffed him on a play (in which he careened forward for about a 3-4 yard gain on what looked like a no gain), and then had a couple catches too.
Again, the tight end group on this team is awesome. With Jack, Erik and Eric (Thing 1 & 2, I propose?) and even Ross Travis, there appears to be depth and a bevy of talent at the position, which will allegedly be highly important in the style of offense new head coach Frank Reich intends to employ come the regular season.
On the defensive side of the ball, again the strength is at safety and along the defensive line. That said, several times last night I found myself praising cornerback Quincy Wilson for just “being there and trying to make a play in coverage”. DT Hassan Ridgeway is starting off hot (please stay healthy), John Simon’s switch to defensive end appears to be a fruitful endeavor, and personally, I really like Skai Moore and Darius Leonard at linebacker.
Like Andrew Luck said, this team is really young and there will be some growing pains. Nights like last night show how important scheme and play-calling are. If you are running a base offense, the other team can game plan against that and shut down your offense. I prefer to reserve most of my analysis for regular season games (due to the nature of preseason games, a lot of the time we’re really only watching like 1 or 2 players on the field fight for a single roster spot).
In closing, I wouldn’t recommend deeply analyzing the film on last night’s game, because after having practiced against this team all week, the only real positive appears to be a lack of a major injury, right? Everything else gets muddied because of how bad the game was on the whole. The officials got both leading with the head penalties wrong, even with the benefit of a replay. However, the reality is that this is the preseason for them as well, both calls will be reviewed by the league office and the officiating crew will be coached before the season starts.
On to Week 3!