On a day that wasn't nearly as fun as the last time the Colts wore white at home, the Colts lost their preseason opener to the Buffalo Bills. 44-20.
Remember, it's not the final score that matters. A blowout looks bad, but remember the Colts put their third team into the game in the second quarter, when the Bills still had their first team in the game. The Bills' two-minute drive that ended in a touchdown at the end of the half? Yeah, that was E.J. Manuel and the Bills' starters against fringe roster players and camp bodies.
So, while 44-20 looks bad, it's meaning is far less than it appears on the surface. The Colts got long, extended looks at the players competing for jobs (Well, not all of them. More on that later), not using the preseason to give anything away to opponents about their first team offense or defense.
However, there were certain things that came out of the game worth noting. These will stick out more when we dig into film, but for now, here were my quick observations from a live viewing.
- T.Y. Hilton. He's going to be really good. That much should be clear. Hilton had a gorgeous diving-catch for a 45-yard touchdown as he beat the cornerback down the left sideline. The rainbow throw from Hasselbeck was a touch long, but Hilton got horizontal and made the grab, sliding into the endzone for the touchdown. Hilton finished with three catches for 61 yards and added an electric 15-yard punt return as well. I don't care who technically "starts," but if DHB gets significantly more snaps than Hilton in 2013, Pep Hamilton's doing it wrong.
- Pat McAfee. The Boomstick was in midseason form on Sunday, impressing with several coffin-corner punts that pinned the Bills inside their own 10. McAfee added another 57-yard kick that placed the Bills inside the 20 as well. While the punt coverage team struggled at times, McAfee looks like he's ready to pick up where he left off last season.
- Delano Howell. With LaRon Landry, Joe Lefeged and Sergio Brown all sitting this one out with injuries, Howell played for the majority of the game at safety. He turned in a solid game, tackling well and showing decent range across the field. He may be able to beat out Brown for what should be the fourth and final safety spot.
- Offensive Line. The first-team had a few good plays to start the game, notably some strong run blocking from Anthony Castonzo and Donald Thomas and Luck having a clean pocket on a few early throws. Of course, it helps when you only have a three-step drop. But things quickly unraveled, and the interior line in particularly began to allow the Bills defensive line and linebacker to penetrate with ease. The line was the biggest problem last season, and looks like it will continue to concern in 2013.
- Pass rush. On the other side of the ball, the defense couldn't get any pressure on the Bills' quarterback throughout the game. Caesar Rayford managed to pick up a sack and strip (which Daxton Swanson returned for a touchdown) in the second half, but outside of that play, the Colts failed to even hurry either E.J. Manuel or Jeff Tuel.
- Chandler Harnish. Some have thought that the second-year pro outplayed Matt Hasselbeck in training camp, although I didn't see that at all when I visited practice. Harnish wasn't helped by the offensive line, but he was off-target and made poor decisions with the ball all afternoon.
- Sheldon Price- The Bills just abused him mercilessly in the second half. I liked Price as a UDFA prospect, but he's too stiff to be an answer at corner.
- Special teams. The kickoff coverage team was especially embarrassing, allowing rookie Marquise Goodwin a 53- and 107-yard kick return for a touchdown. Meanwhile the Colts' own kick return team was awful, averaging under 17 yards per return. Part of the reason why coverage was so bad could be the injuries to Lefeged and Brown, who were two of the team's best tacklers last season, but that level of ineptitude is simply inexcuseable.
One other note: the Colts' second-team offensive line played almost the entire game, and third-string left tackle Ben Ijalana didn't get into the game until there was about three minutes left, which disappointed me. Joe Reitz played left tackle for probably 5x as many snaps, which shocked me. I'd hoped Ijalana could play his way into a roster spot, but that won't happen if he's not given an opportunity to play in the second half of a blowout preseason game.
I'll be doing some individual player tape this week, and am open to suggestions on who to focus on. Let me know in the comments at whom you'd like to take a closer look.
I AM GLAD Irsay lambasted the coaching staff. They deserved it. I don't care if there is a lack of talent on the field, if you ARE on that field it is quite obvious that your talent is potentially NFL quality or you wouldn't be there. period......So to be outplayed and out worked and out hustled bother fringe NFL players is inexcusable.....It was just a very poor performance. and its on the coaches and players to fix it.
I didn't get to watch the game, but I'd love to hear how Teddy Williams looked. I went to a training camp practice and he looked quite impressive on that day.
I am soooo confused on Satele why is he playing? Nevis can be a disruptive dude I hope he can stay healthy and Chapman there was not much running up the gut. Brown showed new talent, he was knocked down while blocking a rusher who was already being blocked by another Colt. I really think he could be tackled by a stiff crosswind. TY is a great talent ----Garson?
As to the offensive line, I felt the starters, as little as they were in, did okay for their first real live action of the preseason. They haven't been hitting very much in camp.
One guy that caught my eye was Emmit Cleary, whom I felt showed well with the 2nd line. And, most importantly, he was playing the right guard slot . . . same as McGlynn. Hmmmmmmm . . .
I wonder if we might see Cleary getting reps with the 1"s leading up to and including the Giants game ?
I think it's very fitting that I often miswrite the OL as the "inferior line". Also, I thought the OL had some awful plays from the beginning of the game, especially on the right side.
I want to attribute the lack of pass rush to it being preseason. Don't know how fair that is, but I'm an optimist by nature.
I am still pretty excited for the season. I am sure the line will get a better once we replace Mcglynn with Thornton. Also did Werner play at all? I don't think he did. He was in street clothes on the side line. Also, I don't see anyone mentioning Josh Chapman, but I thought he looked very stout at the point of attack and he sheds blocks really well too. Drake Nevis also looked good I thought. He looks like he could be an explosive pass rusher. He sheds blocks very well too.
My three biggest concerns after yesterday's game were the special teams, the pass rush (or lack thereof) and the O-line. The special teams issues can be fixed by selecting the right players as the pre-season progresses. I'm not ready to believe it will be as bad as yesterday. There were signs the pass rush will get better. Mathis and Werner played very little and Rayford stood out in the second half. More push from the D-line which is still getting it's feet wet will help. But the O-line is a potential disaster. Yes, the starters didn't play much but that just exposed the lack of depth on the 2nd and 3rd teams. When the starters were in for the first couple of series, there was no push in the run blocking and an early collapse of the interior line. I'm not sure what the fix is here. It's hard to believe that there are any solid free agents left on the market but the Colt's front office better be looking hard at the waiver wires. With the proposed backups/potential starters out hurt, they will be too far behind if they get back at all this season. Not to beat a dead horse but I'm going to anyway, McGlynn and Satele have to go - if they start the season, Luck is going to be running for his life far too often and we will have no interior running game again.
Two things, glad TY is showing improvement from last year, again I feel he could be a poor mans Marvin Harrison, they seem to play similar and I would love for him to study Harrisons tape. If he can continue catching the ball good, and stay away from big hits"knock on wood", he should have a starting spot on this team for years.
Also my initial impressions of Sheldon Price showed today, I just did not see it in his college tape, played to high and had problems with quick moves, I hoped that he would improve this during the offseason, but that has not happened. Looking at the game it somewhat reminded me of Kevin Thomas... just saying.
My biggest concern from this game was special teams. We fire last year's coach, and then have the same results under the new guy. I can't tell if it's a matter of sub-standard personnel or scheme. But, they were typically embarrassing. We can't keep putting the defense into short-fields, or giving up TD run backs.
Come on, guys ! Stay in your lane, get off your blocks, and tackle the ball carrier ! A matter of "want to" !
Yeah. That was rough to watch. Here's a non-shortened link to the article: http://www.coltsauthority.com/2013-articles/august/initial-reactions-bills-beat-colts-44-20.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook
This game reminds me of when Steve Spurrior took over the Redskins. In their first preseason game, they looked like world beaters, but it was only because he coached the game like it actually meant something. As if dominating the first perseason game of the year would forever prove he could bring his college style to the NFL.
Knowing that the sack was a line miscommunication makes me feel 1000x better. Castonzo got whipped around the edge because 1. the ball was snapped at the wrong time and 2. Luck would have been able to step up into the pocket if he had gotten the ball on time. Just lucky nobody got killed by Super Mario barrelling around the edge essentially unblocked.
Kyle, Take another look at the starting O line play. I went back an reviewed the first Q, which is when they played together for the only time. I thought they graded out pretty well. I'd give them a B, even if you count the sack against them and not Andrew.
Check it out a little closer and let us know what you think.
@ajorck he barely played.
Clearly has generated some buzz...as much as an o lineman can, anyway. I think he makes the roster if nothing else.
@WyattL The lane integrity was so poor yesterday.
@smonroe Not to beat a dead horse but I saw some pretty atrocious blocking, especially up the middle. The typical suspects, Satele and McGlynn, seemed to have most of the issues. The only other play that stood out in my mind was the DE just whipping around Costanzo, but Luck already said that was a miscommunication on the cadence. I will have to go back and watch the 1 quarter to see if I missed anything or am just really, really wanting to rag on the whipping boys from last year.
@SteveBarlow They sit down and watch every play......
What are their equations? And I believe u need take and stats as well, but equations can give a lot of insight over longer periods of time, I expect that to be the case with PFF. Again they should always be paired, because there are certain things you can't get directly from tape, and there are some things you can't get directly from stats. If u want examples let me know.
Stats do mean something... they're indictors but should be complemented with observation. Butler was ranked high last year as a CB but it was primarily due to his bloated INT's vs limited playtime. It's like my van getting 60 miles per gallon(trip computer) when driving down a mountain. When I reach the bottom those numbers eventually level out. The same thing goes for bad play.. to use the van analogy, if I idle my car for 30 minutes I'm getting 0mpg and it takes a while for the average to go UP. The more you play, the more accurate the numbers as the extremes tend to balance out. But for equations like PFF? I have no use for it.
smonroe Hate PFF... watch game tape, don't look at stats. If you're good at all at math you realize that numbers can be misleading, they are an indicator but one bad play can scew the numbers. Football isn't played on numbers, it's on the field. This isn't a video game, it's pro football.
@smonroe Kyle was just tweeting about the individual PFF grades. McGlynn and Satele were both rated as the worst Colts linemen and got the lowest ratings on the team. PFF isn't the be-all end-all of ratings, but I do not appear alone in my initial observation.