The Colts lost their second preseason game against the Browns 18-21. It was a better performance than against the Bills in week 1, but still left much too be desired, though we should keep in mind that this is just the preseason. Here are the facets of the game that stood out, both positively and negatively:
4 man pass-rush
Because of the lack of depth and overall talent on the defensive line last season, the Colts relied heavily on creative blitzes and stunts to get pressure on the opposing quarterback. So far this preseason, it has been encouraging to see the Colts getting pressure using only 4 man rushes, probably to avoid showing their blitz packages just yet. Albeit against a mediocre offensive line at best, the Colts managed to get 2 sacks and 5 quarterback hits, and were constantly in the quarterback’s face.
The Colts defensive line looks much better this season, with Justin Houston on the edge, the emergence of Denico Autry as a Pro-Bowl caliber player, and perhaps 2nd year player Kemoko Turay establishing himself as a starter on the edge.
Jacoby Brissett and Chad Kelly both had good overall games, and Phillip Walker showed some flashes. After a disappointing outing in PS week 1, the Colts backup quarterbacks bounced back against the Browns, combining for over 300 yards and 2 scores. It was especially good seeing Jacoby Brissett lead the first team offense on a 10 play, 85 yard touchdown drive that ended with a beautiful throw to Eric Ebron.
At the moment, it looks like Andrew Luck will be able to play in Week 1 against the Chargers, but in case things don't go as planned, Brissett has shown he can at least give the Colts a decent chance at winning, and Chad Kelly might have earned himself a spot on the practice squad.
Even though the refs were clearly out of shape, the Colts simply cannot have 16 penalties for over 160 yards. Plenty of excellent plays were negated by dumb penalties, like a Hale Hentges catch on 2nd and long. The Browns also had 13 flags thrown their way, so this might just be a badly officiated game, specially considering the head ref, Steve Novak, is in his first year in the League.
There was also a really bad PI call on Marvell Tell, when it looked like it should have been offensive interference. Despite the Colts challenging it, the bad call stood.
For the second week in a row, the Colts running game was nowhere to be found. The Colts rushed for 73 yards on 21 carries, and starter Marlon Mack gained just 10 yards on 6 touches. Again, this is just the preseason, and the running game will get better once the offense is playing with 11 starters, but the Colts’ run plays on Saturday were dreadful.