The Colts got another big win in Jacksonville on Thursday night, giving them a two game cushion in the race for a wildcard spot. As usual, the Colts had some great individual performances, as well as some let downs.
In 3 Up, 3 Down, we'll be taking a look at the top and bottom three performers for both the offense and defense. We start with the good news: Who powered the win over the hapless Jacksonville team, besides the Jaguars themselves?
The second-year left tackle has had an inconsistent year, but Thursday's performance was a dominant one at left tackle. Castonzo did give up a QB hit and one hurry, but the total of 2 pressures ties for the lowest he's allowed all season. He was once again the Colts' best run blocker, as he has been all season, and (on a day when Jeff Linkenbach manned the other tackle spot) was the team's best pass protector as well. He finished with PFF's highest grade for the offense, and the 5th highest grade for all NFL tackles for Week 10.
Allen finished with just two catches for 31 yards, but the rookie tight end's positive performance in all areas of the game are why he gets on this list this week. Allen continues to show his ability to do all things well at the tight end position, blocking well in run and pass, as well as being a receiving weapon. Allen's 27-yard reception in the third quarter was the second-longest play of the day for the Colts.
What else can we say about the rookie? He's quickly becoming beloved in Indianapolis, with his ability to escape pressure, make any throw, and seemingly convert any third down. He threw an interception on a poor decision under pressure, but outside of that he was the top 10 quarterback we've gotten used to seeing over the last three weeks. His deep ball continues to improve, which is a scary prospect for any NFL defense.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Wayne (8 rec., 86 yards, great run blocking, but two dropped passes)
I have to start out with Butler after getting three turnovers, doubling the Colts' season total all by himself. Of course, he only forced one of those turnovers (recovering a fumble and being the beneficiary of a ball tipped by multiple Colts), but nevertheless you have to give him credit. Butler will likely be the starter now with Jerraud Powers out for the season. He's not an ideal starter, but he should be better than the alternative (Cassius Vaughn). If he can continue his aggressive play by creating turnovers, the Colts will have a much improved team.
Fokou got overshadowed by Butler by most of the media after Thursday's win, but Fokou was just as impressive, if not more, with his overall performance. Not only did Fokou force the fumble recovered by Butler, but he was fantastic in coverage all night. Fokou was in coverage on 29 snaps, but was only targeted once, a pass that he knocked down. He finished with just 3 tackles (one stop), but that was largely because he banketed his man in coverage throughout the game. His solid play may be a factor in Pat Angerer's limited playing time (just four snaps).
The veteran safety has raised the bar over the last few weeks, playing extremely well after an inconsistent start to the season. Bethea finished the game with seven tackles, leading the team, and three defensive stops. Bethea also got his first career sack (he had a half-sack in 2010) to go along with a quarterback hurry. Bethea's coverage grade was behind only Butler and Fokou for the day, as he allowed just three targets (one completion for 12 yards) in 57 snaps.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Johnson (+1.4 grade by PFF highest of the year, two stops, a QB hurry, but only 18 snaps) and Josh Gordy (Three stops on his three tackles, a sack, and solid coverage all day, but a poor penalty)
Yeah, I think Butlers play will get taken advantage of by Brady, looking in the backfield will not be a successful recipe against the Pats quick receivers and Brady, here is hoping for the best.
Also I wonder how much of Angerer we will end up seeing this year, this ILB position is starting to become one of the better points on the defense, especially depthwise.
Good write up, I definitely agree with your choices.
But I'm curious as to what makes you say Butler isn't the ideal starter at CB?
I watched some of the All-22 tape from the game, admittedly not all of it because it kept locking up on my iPad, but beyond the obvious interceptions I thought he was great in coverage. Have you had a chance to watch the All-22 with an emphasis on watching Butler's play in coverage? If so, what were your impressions?
Being a top of the 2nd round pick, (many pre-draft scouting reports had him rated higher, even going in the first and rated higher than Vontae Davis) he obviously has the physical tools and skillset, he just hasn't lived up to them yet in his career. It could be just that he was playing in the wrong system, Belicheck was too quick to judgement, took him longer to adjust to the NFL, etc. etc. We can only hope anyway. But I did want to hear your thoughts, because from what I saw I was impressed with his man to man coverage skills. We may just have found a gem.
@ColtsHomer99 To answer your question, yes, I have gotten to watch Butler in coverage. His coverage was decent against Jacksonville, even above average at times, IMO. But that was Blaine Gabbert and a slew of receivers that nobody knows. Butler isn't a great tackler, and his history suggests that while he may show up against Gabbert, I have a hard time believing he will against above average quarterbacks.
I'll be ecstatic if he turns out to be a long term answer at CB, but I'm doubtful he ever turns into more than a solid nickelback.
@Kyle Rodriguez This is true, Gabbert and his WRs don't exactly strike fear in opposing DBs. He'll have a much bigger test this Sunday. Let's hope he lives up to it.
Another guy who impressed me was AQ Shipley. I hope the coaching staff really thinks hard about automatically inserting Satele back in there if healthy. Those aren't two guys that I have consistently watched enough to really have an informed opinion on which one is consistently better, I just know that I've noticed Satele get flattened in both run and pass blocking more than a few times and I haven't with Shipley, but again, much smaller sample size against sub-par competition.