Dec 1, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown (31) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Tennessee 22-14. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
I would love to have a nice, clean answer as to why the Colts’ line looked so competent during their 92-yard march to the game-clinching touchdown after they galumphed their way through their first 11 drives and managed only five field goals. I watched those plays over and over, trying to figure out some wrinkle they had thrown in to make everything change. They did make a couple small adjustments, such as giving up on outside runs, running away from Jeff Linkenbach more often and mixing up whether they pulled Hugh Thornton. Pep Hamilton, whose play calling remains shaky, dialed up a perfect play action call on Andrew Luck’s 24-yard scramble. And there were a few other factors that I’ll get into below.
But, as coach-speaky as it may sound, most if the difference was a matter of execution. Among 55 total blocks on that last series, the Colts’ offensive linemen missed only five, with no more than one on any of the 11 plays. That’s a 91% completion percentage that blew away everyone’s ratings for the day. They were simply generating movement on both run and pass plays, which they hadn’t done before that drive. Why that is, I have no idea. Maybe Luck and/or Reggie Wayne gave them a tongue-lashing. Maybe Chuck Pagano threatened wind sprints. Maybe they just got tired of being embarrassed.
Whatever it was, wouldn’t it be nice if they’d show some inspiration for a full game? It’s been a while since that happened.
As always, my grades are based on my subjective interpretation of whether the linemen successfully blocked their targets and may not be completely accurate, since I can’t know their assignments. New this week: compiled totals from the five games I’ve tracked. (After the Texans game, the first one I charted, I realized that I was being overzealous in assigning pressures and hits, so I revamped my standards slightly. As such, I didn’t include cumulative totals for pressures and hits below.) My charting table is at the bottom of the post.
(Quick aside: one common complaint I’ve heard about these pieces is that I don’t provide numbers for other teams’ linemen to contrast with the Colts. I would love to chart every team’s line in every game, but it’s a very time-consuming process, and I love my wife and don’t want to get divorced. Therefore, for now, I’m stuck with comparing the players to each other and their own past performances. If anyone knows of someone else out there doing similar percentage-based work, let me know.)
Colts DC Greg Manusky. Photo Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
This week, as snow blankets the Midwest, the Indianapolis Colts are preparing for the arduous task of facing an AFC playoff team on the road in the cold, in a game that could have a bearing on seeding for the postseason.
The 8-4 Bengals, undefeated at home, have the league’s 6th ranked defense, 4th by Football Outsiders’ measure, and 12 ranked offense (11th in passing yards).
Colts on Defense
When we switch to Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, however, Cincinnati’s offense drops to 21st, 6 spots below Indy – 20th in passing and 21st in rushing. As refreshing as that part may look on paper (or display screen), the game is played on the field, and, as Colts Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky sees it, the Bengals offense is no stroll in the park.