The Colts' 35-9 beatdown from the Jets on Sunday will lead to a lot of criticism this week, as the vast majority of the team played poorly.
After a loss like that, most fans are left reminiscing about 2011, which isn't a pleasant place to be.
But, before the week gets completely miserable, I'd like to take some time to spotlight the few players that actually played well, namely Jerry Hughes, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Anthony Castonzo, and Winston Justice.
Hughes has been much maligned for his lackluster play during his first couple years in Indianapolis, but he's been playing well in 2012.
So far this season, Hughes is second among 3-4 outside linebackers in Pass Rush Productivity, the measure from ProFootballFocus that measures quarterback pressures per snap. He hasn't finished the play and gotten the sack as often as you'd like, but he's been the most consistent pass rusher for the Colts this year.
He stepped it up on Sunday, getting four pressures (a sack, two hits, and a hurry) on Mark Sanchez on just 15 snaps.
Hughes also stepped up during the run, having the highest grade by ProFootballFocus against the run for the Colts with a +1.5. Hughes had seven tackles on the day, six of which were stops (plays that are a failure for the offense).
At this point in the season, Jerry Hughes is outplaying Dwight Freeney by a long shot, and has been right at Robert Mathis' level. Hughes is a better fit in the 3-4 scheme in Mathis' spot, but at this point in the season, it may be in the Colts' best interest to get Mathis and Hughes on the field together more often then not.
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen
The two rookie tight ends have struggled at times to start the season, especially Coby Fleener who had struggled with drops in the preseason and in the first few games.
But Sunday, both rookies had a solid game, with the two top receiving grades from ProFootballFocus for the Colts.
Coby Fleener finished the game with just four receptions for 42 yards, but was able to get open on other times throughout the game. For instance, Fleener had a wide open touchdown pass in the first quarter, but Andrew Luck over threw him. After a struggle with drops over the last few weeks, Fleener didn't have a drop this week.
Dwayne Allen finished with just two catches for 33 yards, including one for 21. Like Fleener, he had no drops and was open on other throws, including a third down overthrow by Luck on the game's first third down.
Anthony Castonzo and Winston Justice
For an offensive line that struggled so much to protect Andrew Luck, it may come as a surprise that two linemen make this short list, but Castonzo and Justice both played a pretty good game, gaining ProFootballFocus grades of +3.3 and +3.2, respectively.
Castonzo gave up just two pressures in 54 dropbacks, and was by far the best run blocker on the team, as he has been all season.
Winston Justice didn't give up any pressures, and was the best pass protector in the game. He was not great in run blocking, but wasn't near the liability that McGlynn and Linkenbach were.
For the season, the two have been the only bright spots on the offensive line, with Castonzo the better all-around lineman, Justice performing better in pass protection (of course, he hasn't faced quite the same caliber rushers).
Great article. I just wanna throw this in there.. I know that a lot of people don't like him, I feel like Delone Carter should get a little more of chance.
@Kyle Rodriguez I know you probably reviewed the film atleast once, so question, with running was the biggest problem our backs not being able to bounce it outside, backs not seeing the hole, our line not making holes, or just the Jets defense showing up on rushing downs?
@paulcareyjr My opinion: lack of commitment to the run game. Second, lack of vision by the RBs. Obviously the line isn't very good in run blocking, but the backs left yards on the field.
someone tell phil b about jerry hughes. he was tearing him up still on the radio yesterday. cut the guy some slack, man!
@jimfix I've always loved Phil B, but i swear his hatred (and I don't use that word lightly) for Bill Polian has left him bitter. Regardless of what kind of person BP was, it is terribly unhealthy to let someone have that kind of effect on you as a person.
Phil B. has continued to bad mouth Hughes (and also Brown) because his narrative of them being BP first round busts must remain in tact and perpetuated regardless of the current facts.
It really makes me sad, so much so that I have a hard time reading or listening to Phil B. anymore... and I used to be an avid fan who looked forward to him everyday.
Good stuff. I'm not commenting as often as I used to (having a baby will cut down on your online commenting time) but I just wanted to say I'm always happy to read things like this.
I watch and read about sports to feel good. I like feeling good. I don't like feeling angry and upset. If my team sucks, I either want to ignore it completely or try to find bright spots. Sometimes the team sucks and that's fine. But dwelling on it is not good for anyone's health. I really appreciate having a blog that will be honest about when the team sucks but can still find bright spots to highlight. If everyone was like the other blog, I wouldn't be reading blogs at all.
Jets' pass rush being rather weak may have something to do with the 2 linemen's performance. It's amazing too me how Jets were able to sack Luck so many times.
Regarding Luck, I think he's developed too fast of a clock in his head, probably because of the poor protection so far. Even when the protection was good he seemed to hurry too much. I think this is what caused him to miss Fleener and Allen on those passes.
@codrutc two things, that is a interesting take, and I think it is somewhat true, but also, I think those passes were just bad throws, Luck is typically pretty good on the run, I think he just over thought the passes and let them get away from him.
One thing your post made me think about was Peyton, he also has/had a fast clock, but he was more comfortable with the routes, his receivers and his arm. I think Luck will get used to this and when he is more comfortable we will see improvement in this area.
For the record it think Luck's pass placement on many of his passes has not been where it needs to be. One of the things I believe is that he tries to throw an easy catch able ball when receivers are open and tends to take too much off of it(didn't see that with the Fleener pass though, which was weird), this seems to cause it to take longer to get to the receiver and either does allow him to have as big of a YAC due to defenders closing in fast, or he does not put the ball in front of them on crossing or deep routes.
Don't get me wrong he does have a lot of nice passes as well, but I think a lot of those come a higher percentage of the time when a receiver is covered tightly compared to those that are open.
Also, don't want Fleener to be a rushing QB, but sometimes especially in close games, I wish he would just pull it down and rush for the short gain, slide down, and get the first instead of trying to make the pass, but I guess that is just the trait of most QB's
Boy, Justice playing well.
Since, I believe I once referred to him as no better than an Orange roadside cone, I will be happy to eat my words. However before i butter up the bread on that sandwich, I am going to watch a few more games.
But I will be very happy to admit I was wrong.
How well does Connor project at OLB for 3-4? When Angerer is ready to play again, its tough to think that Freeman would lose his spot. Connor seems to play too aggressive and gets out of position at times which has resulted in a few of the big run plays up the middle. Put Connor opposite the "rushing" OLB and seems to help balance the front line. Of course that would cut playing time (Rotating Freeney, Mathis, and Hughes; for dime and nickel, you pull Connor and replace w/ one of the previous) but seems like a good line-up if/when Freeney is not in the line-up.
@Westhoff I don't think that plays to his strengths. Conner's aggressive play puts him out of position at times (though not as often as you'd think), but it also results in a lot of stops. Conner's whole thing is the aggressive, penetrating style. At OLB, his role would be setting the edge, and you'd really lose his only strength.