Last week went about as well as Colts' fans could have hoped, as the Colts clobbered the toothless St. Louis Rams 38-3.
This week will be a little different, however, as the Colts face the always-tough Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers provide a much tougher matchup on both sides of the ball, and should provide a better measuring stick for us to measure players, units, and schemes.
So, with that said, there are a few specific things that I'll be watching for Sunday night.
- First and foremost on everyone's mind will of course be Andrew Luck. The Colts bet their future on Luck, and in his debut he looked like he just might be worth it. Of course, this week provides a much tougher opponent, so Luck's composure will be needed to play well against the complicated Pittsburgh defense. How he handles adversity could be a key point in the game.
- The running backs as a whole should be able to showcase more in this week's game. Donald Brown, Mewelde Moore, Vick Ballard, and Delone Carter are the primary candidates to make the roster, and all had good moments in last week's game. This week we should see more of Brown, as the starters play a little longer. We'll continue to get a sneak preview of how the running backs will be used this year.
- The offensive line was a sieve against the Rams, and I don't expect it to look any better against the Steelers' zone blitzes. With Mike McGlynn out, I'll be watching Seth Olsen to se if he can bring anything to the table, as well as Winston Justice to see if he can bounce back from a poor start in Indianapolis.
- Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney got very little playing time on Sunday, playing just one series to start the game. If they play more this week, we should be able to get a better idea of what their role will be in this new defense.
- Speaking of outside linebackers, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison both looked very good against the Rams, and could prove to be a formidable second team in 2012. I'll be watching them this week to see if their performance was a fluke, or if they can continue it this season.
- In terms of injuries, Pat Angerer's foot injury may be the most devastating for fans, as Angerer was a very good, developing young linebacker who fans love. The Colts have two players who are going to get the longest look at replacing him: Jerrell Freemand and Moise Fokou. My personal man-crush on Freeman has been well documented, but Moise Fokou looked good against the Rams as well (albeit against third stringers). Look for one of them to get the edge with this week's performance.
- Tom Zbikowski didn't really impress me last week, and the Colts are going to need more from him for this patched up secondary to work this year. I'll be watching him for some big plays this week, whether that's in the passing game or with a big hit.
- The Colts' coaches have preached the run game this season, and in the home opener they ran more than they passed. However, with Luck in the game, the Colts passed twice as many times as they ran the ball. Once the lead ballooned in the second quarter, they really began to pound the ball in an effort to run the clock down. The game should be closer this week, so we may get a better idea of Bruce Arians' tendencies.
There are dozens of storylines with this year's Colts, especially when you get down to specific players. Who/What will you be watching for this Sunday? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter: @coltsauth_kyle.
Save Freeney and Mathis for the regular season, by any means, but give them a couple series to get into a rhythm. Correct me if I'm wreong, but the only series they played against the Rams featured Jackson running all over them. I want proof they can do it
I got ripped by some readers for saying this would be a much more trying test for Luck than the Rams. Granted the Rams were a top 10 passing defense last year but this is a new staff, a new system and there's new personnel. So I'm with you--the Steelers zone blitz scheme will put more pressure on Luck than St. Louis.
As for Mathis and Freeney I think Pagano looks to keep them fresh heading into the season. That actually excites me more than seeing them during the preseason. It indicates to me the team needs them on the field at any expense.
Finally, as we've all noted the offensive line is scary. They were horrible last year. After scrapping everyone and starting over I'm questioning Grigson's approach. Satele isn't Jeff Saturday and that's a huge risk. The left side was OK but the right side isn't shaping up. Now they've got injury issues. For a group that simply isn't that talented it's not a good sign. OL is moving up the needs chart for next year's draft.
Kyle, forgive me if you have already addressed this... but have your heard how the Colts and the new Coaching staff feel about Castonzo? And what are your personal feelings about his development and potential?
@dancassidy35/FreeFestusFromGSW! Size doesn't mean a thing. I'm not sure why Colts fans over the years have been infatuated with size...
@DougEngland Only things I've heard have been positive quotes from the coaches. I think they're planning on him long term. Personally, I like Castonzo, and think the ankle injury really hurt his play last year. I'm hoping he can stay healthy and make a bit of a jump this season.
@Kyle Rodriguez Thanks for that and I agree with you. I think the ankle really hindered his development last year, but I still think he has the potential to be what Glenn was to Manning.
(But I was curious with a whole new staff and especially with Grigson being an offensive line guy, if the new staff had any reservations about him.)