Earlier this week, I took a look at six players (three offense, three defense) that played notably well against the Jaguars last Thursday. Now, as we look ahead to this week's game against the New England Patriots, we look at six players that need to have a better performance in order for the Colts to pick up the upset.
After a very good return against the Dolphins last week, Reitz took a step back this week. While I don't agree completely with the grade, ProFootballFocus gave Reitz a -4.3 on the day, the lowest grade for a Colts' offensive player. Reitz biggest concern was pass blocking, where he gave up three hurries and two hits. His five pressures on the day were the most by any Colt. From my film session, Reitz was actually pretty decent for the majority of the game, and I'm not sure why he graded so poorly for PFF. Nevertheless, he did have a couple breakdowns and you'd like to see those fixed.
Replacing right tackle Winston Justice wasn't going to be an easy task for anyone, as he's played pretty well this season, especially in pass protection. But, Linkenbach didn't do himself any favors by allowing two quarterback sacks and a hit on Thursday. Linkenbach played very well at guard earlier this season, and maybe the Colts should stick with that position for now. But, if Justice can't play again this week, or goes out with a similar injury, Linkenbach will surely be called upon again. If Luck is going to keep up with Brady, he'll need a clean pocket.
Brown wasn't helped by the obvious playcalling of the Colts, but nevertheless it was Brown's worst game of the season running the ball. Brown's 42 total yards was his lowest total of the season (outside of MIA, where he only played 3 snaps), and his 3.0 YPC was the worst since a 2.8 against Minnesota. Brown was better on tape than he seemed originally, and I can fortunately say that I don't see a regression in him, just a tough game where he saw little-to-no daylight. Nevertheless, the Colts will need more from him against the Pats (if he plays) in order to keep their defense honest.
Not Dwight Freeney/Jerry Hughes
Both of these players had poor grades by PFF, but I disagree with those grades. They managed eight QB pressures between them against a QB who threw a lot of short passes. According to PFF, Gabbert had the second shortest average time to pass attempt this week at 2.11 seconds. Guess who had the shortest? Chad Henne, the Jaguars backup at 2.04 seconds. The two quarterbacks combined for 39 dropbacks that were less than 2.5 seconds, about 75% of their total dropbacks, which is easily the highest in the league. They only dropped back for more than 2.5 seconds thirteen times, and the Colts got four sacks out of those 13 snaps (3rd most in the league, on the lowest amount of snaps). Hughes did have a couple of bad penalties, but overall I thought this pairing played pretty well.
However, this week the Colts face Tom Brady, another QB with one of the shortest average times until the throw. Hughes and Freeney (and Mathis if he plays) will have to figure out how to get to him quickly if the Colts are to have a chance.
While his fellow starter was racking up three turnovers, Vaughn was busy looking like a below average cornerback, against one of the worst passing offenses in the league. Vaughn allowed 9 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown, and failed to knockdown a pass on the day. He also allowed 54 yards after the catch, and had the worst coverage grade of anybody on the defense this week by PFF.
Redding has been inconsistent and injury prone all year, but Thursday was arguably his worst day as a Colt, as he rushed the passer 43 times and failed to get a pressure all day. Redding did have a batted pass (which led to an interception) and was ok in run defense throughout the day, but he had the worst pass rush grade by PFF of anyone on the Colts (outside of Freeney, who I, again, disagreed with). Redding's pass rushing, or lack thereof, will be a major factor in the game on Sunday, as the interior line must push Brady back into the arms of the OLBs.
I'm thinking center Barrett Jones in the draft... makes sense for a young QB and a smart center to grow together, he is also extremely versatile and with a team with this many injuries on the line, that would be a quality pick around the range we should be drafting.
I kind of see this game as a possibility for Brown to excel catching out of the backfield. Bills killed the Pats most of the game with little screens, and Brown has proven he's fast enough to break such opportunities. Maybe luck gets a couple 20-30 yd gainers to DB to give the run game some breathing room.
Definitely with you on Vaughn also being a big key if he can turn it on. If Butler is for real and Vaughn begins to "get it" we could have a fair/average secondary for the latter half of the year. Which is something I view as a best case scenario given how badly we started to begin with... I'm crossing my fingers.
Very surprised to see Brown on your DOWN LIST, you have defended him like a relative. It seems the only time he runs good is when he is in open space- that does not happen much in this league. Great for change of pace, but not a tough enough for every down. Brown consistent injuries have allowed the team to develop a better pair of backs. Good read
Just to let you know, all players have a bad game. Donald Brown having a bad game will never constitute a "regression". Players regress overs weeks an years, not games. Donald Brown is fine. He is a good running back, he does everything we ask of him
@chris cox I was thinking regression as far as coming back from an injury, compared to pre-injury form, but true, everyone has a bad game, to me brown is has looked better this year running up the middle, being able to find holes instead up only breaking it outside like usual.
I guess PFF knows what they are doing, but my eye test sure does seem to agree more with your accessments.