The Indianapolis Colts (1-2) entered their week 3 match-up with divisional rival Jacksonville with a opportunity to go into their week 4 BYE week with a share of the AFC South lead. Instead, after a late Adam Vinatieri FG gave them a 1-point lead with under a minute left to go, poor coaching decisions and execution, and a Cecil Shorts III 80-yard touchdown left them at 1-2 with more questions than answers.
On offense, the OL performed well, for their standards, allowing only a single QB sack, and providing Andrew Luck with the time he needed to find the open receiver. Luck, for his part, continued to display the calmness and poise Colts fans have come to expect from him. And when the Colts coaching staff wasn't tying his hands, Luck led the Colts on effective, impressive scoring drives.
On defense, the Colts continued their inconsistent play, holding perennial all-pro QB Blaine Gabbert to 155 yards on 10-21 passing, while allowing Colts-Killer-Extraordinaire RB Maurice Jones-Drew to run for 177 yards on 28 carries, including a 59-yard TD run.
The Colts young, inconsistent talent has a lot of growing and learning to do during their week 4 BYE week. The same could be said for the coaching staff, especially OC Bruce Arians, who has, to this point, demonstrated a total lack of understanding, both for the lack of talent along his OL, as well as the wealth of talent he has at WR, RB, and TE. If the Colts, both their players and coaches, can learn from their early-season mistakes, they can likely grow into a 6-7 win team. If not? The 1-4 win team that many experts predicted in April may be an unfortunate reality.
Quick Thoughts, the Good:
- Andrew Luck continued to look good. His pocket awareness was amazing, his ability to make plays with his feet is above average, and his 1st-half touchdown to TY Hilton will go on his rookie highlight reel. The only thing holding Luck back at this point is a below average offensively line and, more importantly, a coaching staff that doesn't understand how to properly utilize their supremely-talented QB.
- TY Hilton had a good game: 4 catches for 113 yards and a TD receiving, one 26-yard return on kick-offs, and 4 returns for 29 yards on punt returns. We had high hopes for Hilton coming out of the preseason, today was the first step towards him fulfilling those hopes and expectations.
- Reggie Wayne had a bad drop/fumble, but still caught 8 of 15 targets for 88 yards. Through 3 games he's been the consistent pass catching option that Luck has needed. He'll have to continue this level of performance and production if the Colts offense is going to find any sort of consistent success.
- Jerrell Freeman didn't force a turnover in this game, but he was still a presence inside. His play through 3 weeks has made the absence of Pat Angerer a little more tolerable. In fact, the play of Freeman, as well as Kavell Conner, has made the return of Angerer against Green Bay an intriguing topic. Have both Freeman and Conner played well enough to prevent Angerer from regaining his starting job? At 1-2, with an inconsistent defense our guess is no, but the Colts' defensive woes can hardly be blamed on the play of their ILBs.
- This is more of "grading on the curve" than anything, but the Colts OL played its best game of the year. The unit allowed only 1 sack (and 6!!! QB hits), but, in general, provided Luck and company enough time to execute the plays. That C Samson Satele was forced to exit the game in the 2nd half is concerning, but perhaps today's game is an indication that, with some heath and time to gel, this OL can be closer to average than the "putrid" they had been displaying in recent weeks.
Quick Thoughts, the Bad:
- Why draft two tight ends if you're not going to utilize them? It's true that Dwayne Allen caught 5 of 6 targets for 35 yards, but Coby Fleener again went unnoticed, notching 0 catches on 2 targets for 0 yards. In theory, drafting Fleener and Allen made sense, but only if the Colts planned on featuring and utilizing both tight ends to the fullest of their abilities. In the current scheme and play calling, both seem like wasted draft picks. Hopefully Arians and company can better learn to utilize the talent they have on the team.
- The defense continues to remain inconsistent. I know I took some flack for this last week, but the fact that Jags' QB Blaine Gabbert completed less than 50% of his passes (10/21), but the Colts still allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to run for 177 yards on 28 carries (6.3 YPC) and 1 TD is embarrassing. I wrote prior to today's game that the Colts main focus should have been to force Gabbert to beat them. Based on his play today, that would have been a sound strategy. Instead, the new Colts defense emulated the old Colts defense and was consistently gashed by the Jaguars running game.
- The Cecil Shorts III TD after the Colts took a 17-16 lead was indefensible. How the Colts could be in a defense that didn't include deep safety help is beyond my understanding. True, the Jaguars needed only a FG to win, but the Colts should have forced Gabbert to prove that he could march his team down the field to set up that FG, instead of allowing a cheap 80-yard catch-and-run TD. The Colts won't be good enough to make the playoffs, and this play is a great illustration of why. Yes, the team lacks the talent necessary to make the post season, but their coaching staff also lacks the understanding and experience required to put its players in the best position to succeed.
Quick Thoughts, the Ugly:
- A week ago we were hesitant to put the coaching staff in this spot, hoping that they would learn from their mistakes in the face of an improbable late-game win against the Vikings. A stunning late-game loss against the Jaguars later, however, and we're more than willing - eager, in fact - to call this coaching staff out. Andrew Luck is the best part of the Colts offense. The willingness of the Colts coaching staff to neuter Luck at the first sight of a leads amazing... stunning... dumbfounding. This Colts team, their young roster and their young coaching staff, should be learning how to win. Instead, they are learning how to give away leads, how to play to lose, and how to not close out teams. We had hoped the Vikings game was a wake up call for Pagano and company, perhaps today's loss to the Jaguars will do the trick.
So forgotten future-beast Drake Nevis blasts through the line and whacks Gabbert, only to have the announcers call him "Drake Newis" two or three times. Typos are typos, but seriously? Show the man a little respect.
Have you rewatched the game yet? It wasn't being conservative, it was being stifled in what we were trying to do. I agree with most of your points, except about Arians. I think he knows exactly what the limitations of the line and the team are and is calling for the plays that have the best chance for success. I said it below, why should we think we should be better than we are? Are those journeymen O and D players all of a sudden supposed to be stars now? IMHO we're playing a lot better than I expected at this point.
Agree. Agree. Agree.
I understand why Pagano and company ran out the clock and kicked the mid-range field goal at the end of the game. They were thinking - "We've got Vinatiari to hit the game winner and, dude, is Blaine Gabbert seriously going run a 1 minute drill? Preposterous." Unfortunately they failed to realize that luck happens and not the QB kind. To me the move was indefensible. You play for three when you have no other choice or if you can kill the ENTIRE clock. You do not get in range of a 40-something yard field goal, one that Adam had ALREADY missed, and just wave the white flag. You go for six unless the clock or the downs dictate otherwise. That was an awful, awful, awful late game sequence. If Donald Brown gets stuff on all three runs, the Colts would have been kicking a 44-ish yarder. Vinatieri is a clutch guy, but you don't seat the game on the foot of your kicker if you can avoid it. You just don't.
The defense was about as soft up the middle as I've ever seen it. The Jags didn't even bother throwing any variety in their play calling for most of the game. It was just Drew up the middle over and over and over. The DTs were getting blown off the line, but the linebackers weren't doing much better.I like Freeman and Connor, and Angerer. They can get from sideline to sideline amazingly well, but none of those guys can hold up the middle. We obviously haven't seen Angerer play this year, but he's just not that guy. There is A LOT of work to do on this defense before it's even average.
Agree on Luck's pocket presence. There was one situation where two rushers were coming from directly behind him and Luck stepped up to run moments before one of them jumped on his back. And I mean DIRECTLY behind him. It was uncanny.
so the thing is, and i hate to say this, but the thing that beat us was the thing that was supposed to save us, and that was, dun dun dun... the coaching, they played WAY too soft, and there isnt a colt fan in the universe that can say differently. i understand that we have a young team, and not to mention a rookie quarterback, but come on, this is the QB that we drafted and let the GOAT go for, i know its only week 3, but give him some more chances to throw the ball, he has shown he can win in this leauge. donald brown isnt exactly eric dickerson, but they (the coaches) use him like he is. i honestly believe Ballard has way more upside, im not sold at all on brown, and i just wish i could see whatever the coaches are seeing in our running game. its just not there, and it hasnt been in almost 10 years. and dont even get me started on the injurys... jeez,
I keep telling myself that really it is better that the Colt lost. That they are not nearly a playoff team this year and in the long run it will be better if they have another high draft position and set themselves up for a breakout 2013.
But damn I hate to lose to the Sparkle Kitties. And to lose like that. Maybe coaches have to learn how to win, just like teams do.
(Still, teams wait decades to find a franchise QB. Some teams have never had one. So the fact that it appears the Colts are going to have back-to-back Superstars... well, we got that going for us.)
@DougEngland After the brutality of last season, I'll take any rationalization for these losses that I can talk myself into.
@DougEngland I'm inclined to agree, that win or lose, the Colts win. Either they win the game or they improve their draft pick. These Colts are not going to be playoffs, so why finish 7-9 when you can finish 3-13? Granted, they should show promise in their losses, and I thought Pagano blew it at the end, and the defense couldn't stop a basic dive up the middle. At least make quality decisions and show flashes of excellence in your losses.
So, if vinny doesn't shank a 30 something yarder, we're still in position to win this with Luck's late heroics even with giving up the 80 yd TD. Just a what-if scenario.
I think Fleener is not where the Colt expect him to be, I could be wrong, but that is just my take. Also my biggest problem with the last drive was if you plan to run the ball right up the middle, why not try to get the first, why not use a lead back, seems like Brown tends to do much better in those type of situations.
Anyway, this will be a learning situation, I wish stuff was faster but oh well, that loss really sucked.
I'm with you, Donald needs a lead back!
@paulcareyjr You're absolutely right.
@paulcareyjr Rookie TEs are just never impact performers. For some reason, it just never happens. You'd be hard pressed to find a TE, no matter how talented, that went for more than 600 or 700 yards in their rookie season. I don't know what it is about the position that creates such an adjustment curve, but that's just what happens. So I'm not too discouraged, yet. And no, he can't block, but we all knew that going in. He'll improve somewhat in that capacity as well. And Dallas Clark couldn't block either.
Yeah, I never said anything about the blocking, I still think he can become a average blocker, as well as decent route runner, where I see him eventually is a deep threat as well as a red zone target.
I think the problem with most TE's coming in is that they are not nasty enough for the NFL yet, they don't really have as much physical play or as much technique needed to succeed with much stronger NFL OLB, and DE's.
One TE that had a really good rookie season was Shockey, but to me he had those characteristics coming out of college and I think that is what separated him. Also he was in a system that knew how to use him correctly.
@paulcareyjr yea it is sad about fleener, i think he is a reciever not a TE, and he is lining up at TE hurts us, he cannot block. and so far is scared to go over the middle. but you cant always draft the next John Mackey.
@David Burton True, but I still think he is better suited to TE, his route running is not that good, and neither is his acceleration/quickness, he would probably have a hard time getting separation or position on a corner unless the ball was thrown high.
I still think he has a chance to be a good TE, but he will have to learn how to take advantage of the match-ups that he is given, as well as actually catching the ball. Also the coaching staff both the OC and the TE coach will need to figure out how they can get him involved more, and put him in a situation to succeed.
No, I dunno. I'm no expert, but I just watched the game (finished watching it 2 seconds ago), having read all of the posts beforehand. I was expecting something different when I finally watched the game. I expected lack of aggressiveness, poor defense play, etc. Honestly, I didn't see that. And sure, maybe I need glasses or whatever. But here's what I saw:
1. Andrew Luck seems to be the real deal. Great calm and throwing ability. On another site some folks posited that he couldn't throw down field but I didn't see that. A few overthrown balls and such, but nothing terrible. I'm seeing what I hoped: someone who will be a great QB if we can clean up the rest of the team.
2. Defense again was average at best. Not terrible but not great. Did you see that the Vikings beat the 49rs? And we beat the Vikings. So perhaps our D is not as bad as we think. They need improvement but it's getting there.
3. Donald Brown did fine. He ran some nice plays, he caught a check down and ran it 30 yards. He's running hard and doing his best. When he fails, it's because the Offensive Line has left him nothing. I'm really tired on the hating of Brown. Just unwarranted. Is he Adrian Peterson? No. But he is not a bad RB. Behind the Giants OL, he'd be a monster.
4. I'm worried about Viniatieri. He's shanking them here and there. I hope we have a backup.
5. I really saw only one example of really conservative play and that was at the end of the game when we kicked the field goal after running three times. That was dumb. Three runs? We should have passed and gone for the heart but we didn't. Bad call. But otherwise, Luck was allowed to throw the ball in the possessions before that late one. It wasn't THAT conservative that people should be calling for Arian's head.
6. Terrible officiating. Just sick of it. Hits on Luck. Just bad. But the Colts are killing themselves on penalties. Dungy would have been livid. This has got to stop. But I am very pissed at the NFL for holding out with the Ref's.
7. Not worried about Collie and his injury. Just bad luck for the guy. But if his leg heals, then he should be good I hope. No reason to IR him unless he has some really bad injury. Now, the concussions do worry me. But not the injury today.
8. I don't know if we'll ever be able to stop MJD. Without him in the game, it's a blowout. He's very tough to stop. Without Peyton's high powered offense, we're gonna lose.
Yes, it sucks sucks sucks to loss to the stinky Jags like that. Just terrible way to lose. One really bad play and we're dead. But let's think about some facts:
1. This is Luck's THIRD NFL game. THIRD!! And that's true of Fleener as well. They will improve. RGIII lost again today and he's surrounded by talent!
2. The team is showing a lot of potential. It's not all clicking yet, but when it does, look out.
3. The defense improves every week. After the BYE, with Freeney back we'll be better.
4. We will not beat the Packers. I'm hoping we put together a good showing.
5. We're tied for 2nd place in the AFC South. Unless Houston derails, they are the guys. But like the post mentions, we are not a playoff team. So if we manage to stumble into the playoffs then it will be just for bragging rights cause we'll be one and done.
6. Steelers lost to the Raiders! Ha!
Just my thoughts. I deleted the game so I'm not gonna watch it again. But it wasn't a terrible game by us at all. And the coaching is not terrible and to conservative. They're really trying to give Luck a running game. If they can, it will only help.
~ Go Colts!
@buymymonkey Re: #3: When they get Brown running outside the tackles, he looks like a first round pick. To Greg's point about Arians' playcalling, at least he seems to have added some shallow stretch handoffs into the mix. But when they send him up the gut behind three 2nd-stringers, of course he looks like a bust -- even MJD couldn't find a hole to run through behind those guys.
@buymymonkey I agree with everything you said except I would not have passed on those final three plays. However, I would have had Andrew roll out after faking the handoff. Best case is he picks up the first down. Worst case is he lays down if he sees he's going to be hit, and the play still takes more time. I'm also siding with Arians on this game. I think he knows exactly what the limitations of his line and team are, and that's why we're not seeing much of Fleener. Bottom line - why would we expect more from this team than what we're getting? Magic?
@smonroe @buymymonkey I hated the move. I think you play for six until the defense or the clock forces you to take three, or unless you can kill the entire clock. Especially when a figgie from the other team flat out loses the game instead of tying it. I don't see the downside of throwing, particularly if you send a couple guys long and look for a cleared out check down. It's worth the risk.
@buymymonkey you committed the cardinal sin by comparing us to other teams and basing it on performances of weeks past. yes the colts beat minnesota, so we must be better than the 49ers!!! Put the Colts at #1 on the Power Rankings! Same thing with the Redskins. When you compare to other teams in that manner, you lose the real perspective, which is with better and more aggressive coaching, the Colts could actually spoil some playoff teams' hopes, which is all I want out of this year along with improved play. Otherwise, bring Caldwell back if you're going to play like he's still there.
@buymymonkey Who said Luck couldn't throw it downfield? Are they not paying attention to the fact that he's only behind Flacco in 20+ yard completions right now?
I missed most of the game (was out, and didn't get back home until around the 4th quarter). I saw one - <i>one</i> - pass that looked like it didn't have enough heat on it really late in the game. It seems to have been a simple quick-out when Reggie turned back towards Luck, but the pass hit the dirt a few feet in front of Reggie. That was it. Were there more? Because in the prior games I *did* watch in their entirety, there was simply no problem with him being able to throw downfield.
I sort of suspect that the claim is coming from people who haven't been watching him play, but want to pretend they know what they're talking about.
@buymymonkey 4. At the time I wasn't blaming Vinny too much for the missed FG. Looked like the right side of the line just collapsed and Vinny had to hurry it. Seemed like it was inches away from being blocked.
5. There was less than a minute on the clock. As bad as Luck's protection was all day, I was fine with just running and forcing the Jags to burn their last timeouts. It would have worked had the Colts not then utterly failed to cover Gabbert's one on-target long pass of the day.
@buymymonkey good stuff man. little biased, but im okay with that :)
I never get to see the CBS games, but you are confirming all the fears I had about the new coaching staff. Pagano may be a good hire, but I don't think he did a good job of surrounding himself with quality leaders.
On the TD two safeties were deep. Bethea cheated over to the sideline, the underneath corners both bit on the out, and Shorts split the wide safeties.
Bad corner play gave Gabbert the window and a rare out-of-position Bethea lost the game in one humiliating stroke.
@Coltsheadben did he cheat over, or was there supposed to be a MLB coming to take the deep middle? That was the old Dungy-2 system, and if the MLB didn't get there it looked like the safeties were out of position.
@NateDunlevy That one hurt Nate..I just keep reminding myself that we're laying a good foundation...Penalties hurt today,too many mishaps
Numerous times during this game, the Colts lined up with just one WR. On every occasion, that receiver was not Reggie Wayne. It was Donnie Avery. Bruce Arians is clearly on crack.
I do not like Arians very much at all. I think the multiple formations are unnecessary and make me think he's just outsmarting himself and creating unnecessary extra work for the players. This may be part of what is keeping Fleener back (though mostly it's that he's not working hard enough).
But credit where credit is due: That TY Hilton TD catch, not to take anything away from the throw, was 100% on the play design. It wasn't even a well-run route. It was just a great play design for the defense the Jags were showing.
@thejoshbaker Bruce Arians literally has no idea what team he's coordinating.
@thejoshbaker Running a 3 TE set is pretty much proof of incompetence (patriots excepted). Running a 3 TE set and failing to get any meaningful yardage out of it is criminal