The Indianapolis Colts hosted the San Francisco 49ers Saturday for their third preseason game as they get ready to head into the 2018 season. Per the usual with exhibition contests, there was some good to take in, and also some real issues that will need to be addressed immediately.
The Colts did come away victorious, but we all know that the final score means nothing, but what the team learns from these four quarters means everything.
Andrew Luck is still a boss:
In his third preseason outing, Andrew Luck came through once again. His performance wasn’t the best against the Baltimore Ravens last week, but he certainly showed that the Colts will go as Andrew Luck goes.
He finished 8-of-10 for 90 yards and a touchdown through the air, and picked up 27 yards, scrambling four times on the ground. Luck had a dropback or two where he looked a bit frantic after getting past his first read, but he very quickly calmed down and was extremely poised the rest of his time under center.
Luck finishes the preseason 20-of-32, throwing for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception. I think Colts fans can live with that result from a preseason in which we know we saw virtually none of the playbook.
Colts still need a pass rush off the edge:
We’ve seen guys like Hassan Ridgeway and Denico Autry creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the interior of the Colts defensive line, but aside from John Simon the edge group is pretty underwhelming thus far.
In fact, before Ryan Delaire dropped C.J. Beathard at the end of the third quarter (he ended up notching two sacks on the day), Simon was the only defensive end on the roster who had accumulated a sack thus far. In the first half of Saturday’s Week 3 game, Simon and Anthony Johnson were able to get hits on Jimmy Garoppolo.
Kemoko Turay and Tarell Basham were able to get a piece of the quarterback in the second half as well, and Skai Moore technically earned a sack as Garoppolo ran out of bounds. They’re getting some pressure, but not enough overall, and not enough from the defensive end group by any stretch of the imagination.
Colts offensive line still has a long way to go:
For the most part (15 dropbacks) the Colts offensive line struggled to protect Luck. He was sacked once, was forced to escape the pocket to scramble four times and was forced off of his spot a few more times despite being able to get the ball out of his hands in the process.
Austin Howard was replaced with J’Marcus Webb after only once series with Luck in the game, Joe Haeg was worked over a few times and the interior even looked overwhelmed a couple times as well. This group was expected to be a much better pass blocking group, but we can see that the light at the end of the tunnel may be a bit further away than we expected.
The running game was also abysmal. At halftime, the Colts running backs racked up all of 5 yards on the ground through 11 carries. Yuck.
That’s not quite what the Colts are hoping to see executed come the regular season, but those numbers have a lot to do with the line. With expectations of having a much improved all-around offensive line, several things need to change in a hurry if that’s still going to be the case.
Of course, Anthony Castonzo is still on the shelf, but the interior still needs a great deal of improvement going forward as well.
Darius Leonard is a beast
What else can we say about Leonard right now? I’m guessing that those who ‘didn’t like the pick’ are having some different feelings after watching his camp and preseason ability being presented. Leonard was, again, very active against the run and even had two near interceptions in the first half alone.
Leonard’s speed is exactly what the Colts need from the rookie at the WILL position and with his instincts against the passing game beginning to show up on the field, it appears that he’s quickly moving towards being well-worth the second-round pick Chris Ballard used to grab him.
Colts run defense desperately needs some consistency:
Simply put, the Colts allowed nearly 100 rushing yards in the first half alone Saturday against the 49ers. That will not cut it with such a young group trying to make plays on the defensive side of the ball. Now, the Colts scheme is allowing more on the ground than they would if they just played straight up due in large part to their slanting so often on early downs.
That works, both, for and against the defense, but when it goes against them it turns into major gains for opposing running backs. The missed tackles, some failures in gap integrity and the occasional situation in which they’re just plain-ole outmatched stacks yards on top of yards as the game goes on.
We expected some difficulty against the run, with the change to the four-man front, but when the Colts kept Al Woods through the transition, something needs to be addressed I’d say. I think it’s a workable front for the Colts, however, they won’t be able to allow 100 yards per half and expect to win any games this year.
Will a breakout receiver please stand up?
We’ve had this conversation for the better part of the past couple months. It’s T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers... and then what? I don’t trust that Ryan Grant is going to offer enough to be a legit WR3, and behind him you have about three or four guys who have some real ability and are in the midst of a roster battle, but nothing concrete at all.
Zach Pascal has showed some great receiving ability as well as some special teams help in the return game. Seantavius Jones, Kasen Williams and Steve Ishmael have all flashed too, but we have yet to see anything consistent out of camp or in preseason games.
Is Daurice Fountain finally going to become who the Colts want him to be and make the roster? Can Krishawn Hogan get himself noticed enough in the Colts’ fourth preseason outing to bypass these other guys?
Look, none of us should care who does rise to the top, just as long as somebody does. This receiver corps is a real issue going into the season folks.