Marcus will be along shortly with a recap of the Colts' win over the Browns, but I'm currently in Twitter jail and thought I'd pen my quick thoughts on the game.
No fluff, just notes.
- Caesar Rayford: Wow. He continued his impressive preseason tonight with two more sacks (and a forced fumble) along with one other that was offset by a defensive holding penalty. Rayford showed more athleticism tonight with quick edge rushing, fighting through the block and getting to the quarterback. As I said earlier this week, you don't see a lot of defined pass rushing moves, but he's got great strength and his reach is a huge asset that has netted him at least three of his five sacks during this preseason.
- Brandon Weeden is not good. Neither are the Browns' receivers. That being said, the Colts' starting secondary looked very good in their first action together. In the process, they made the pass rush look better than it really was. In reality, Weeden had a lot of time to throw for most of the night, but solid coverage made him hold the ball longer than he should have been.
- Another solid game from Andrew Luck. I'm not going to look up the official stats, because they really don't matter, but he was accurate and made good decisions. His interception was a dropped pass from Stanley Havili. Overall, the Colts had little trouble moving the ball, especially through the air. The Luck/Wayne connection was especially on-point.
- Hugh Thornton looked good in his debut. He was solid in pass protection, save one play that was a quick throw anyway, and looked good in run blocking, especially on one particular play in which he pulled to the left side and threw down a linebacker. I'll go back and look more closely at him this week, but overall it was a very good debut for the rookie right guard. Now if he can save us from the abomination that is Mike McGlynn....
- Griff Whalen showed up with a few catches tonight at varying depths on the field. He's a possession receiver, but still is a notch above the rest of the Colts' depth receivers.
- Donald Brown ran very well behind a fullback with the first-team offense. I've said it before (namely after 2011 when he had a career year), but Brown excels behind a fullback, and should do well in Hamilton's offense if he gets touches.
- Along with Caesar Rayford, Mario Harvey was getting into the backfield on just about every blitz he came on, including blowing up consecutive third and fourth down plays in the third quarters to stop a Browns drive.
- The offense looked a little FB-heavy tonight, and the offensive line was very questionable, but with two starters out (McGlynn and Castonzo, who left early with a knee injury) and the tight ends also missing starters (Allen and Fleener both out), that should be different in the regular season. Well, the OL is still a concern, but starters being out didn't help. Castonzo's injury didn't look serious, but keep your fingers crossed. He's the best lineman on the team (especially after Gosder Cherilus got abused by Paul Kruger tonight).
That is good news on Thornton. I hope he is able to outperform McGlynn to the point that he becomes the starter sometime this season. The power running game needs bruisers in the OL. Satele and McGlynn aren't bruisers.
It was good to see Griff Whalen's healed enough to get his chances. Yep, he's a possession receiver. But at the end the season, if all stay healthy, it's likely that Whalen will be 3rd or 4th in receiving productivity, including clutch catches. Luck trusts him and their chemistry is real. Whalen was durable in college but can he survive in the NFL like Welker, longer and healthier than Collie?
The "Thornton Starts Week 1" bandwagon is alive and well! Woohoo!
Also, sucks about Sidbury and Hickman, but it opens the door for Rayford and Harvey, who I like a whole lot too. Linebacker depth is being tested, luckily we had enough at those positions.
So one thing I am impressed with is Vonte, seemed like he was shutting his man down all day, one more thing to add... to me it looked like Bethea was out there having fun again, not like the past few years, I think our secondary is really starting to come along, and has potential to be a really good group.
K. Williams again looked very average against their first team. Then he showed flashes against their reserves. I can't see how he makes the team. Browns have a pretty good D, we were playing without our best TEs and still moved the ball. DHB continues to be solid. Reitz played well in relief.
Still hoping to see Adongo get on the field next week. Ceasar Rayford about has his job wrapped up, but Adongo still just looks like a pure natural talent. A year under Pagano and we might have a nice headache for QBs next year
Another comment: The two minute drive(s) to end the 1st half were ugly. I choose to see it as an anomaly, but it does cause some concern for me. That and Castonzo's injury.
Other than that it looked good, but much of that might be attributed to playing the Browns.
Toler is impressing the hell out of me. While he does gamble sometimes, he's extremely feisty and is constantly fighting for the ball. That strip was super impressive, especially on a guy quite a bit bigger than him. I really can't wait to see how improved the Colts secondary is this year, as long as they stay healthy. Just having Bethea back at FS with at least a semi-competent SS with him should be awesome. The secondary made several good tackles in the running game and short passes, too.
Thornton looked pretty great, especially for his first game. Cleveland has a pretty good D-line, too, yet he held in there and made some great blocks.
Rayford and Harvey were both very impressive. It'll be exciting to see how Rayford improves once he makes the team and gets coached up some more (if he gets cut, I'm gonna be pissed).
If Thornton takes over for McGlynn, I think the o-line could actually be serviceable. Not elite by any means, but not as bad as last year, for sure. The Colts were able to get some good runs in the 3rd quarter, but I'm not sure if those were against the Browns' 1st or 2nd squads. Lack of pass rush is still a major concern, so we'll see how they fare against QBs not named Weeden, Locker, or Gabbert.
@paulcareyjr Give Weeden some class receivers. At Ok. St., he and Justin Blackmon, among others, ate up the defenses, including Stanford. Luck's last college game was a loss to Weeden and Blackmon in the Fiesta Bowl.
@Jayjaybe @paulcareyjr don't think he will be, he has a good group of young targets in little, cameron and gordon. He has some tools, but he still needs to develop, and not too worried about what a guy did in college as far as wins and stats, more importantly I look at how they play and how that projects to the NFL. I say if he develops the most he becomes is a mediocre starter, I think they will need more than that to compete in this QB league.
@Jayjaybe @paulcareyjr True, but yeah Sims was silly for that comment, and I think he mostly based it off luck leading receivers with lobe passes at times, and also the why he threw deep balls, always a lot of air underneath them.
One last thing, Lots of people talked about Lucks receivers, but he really had quality guys, many who are either in the NFL or had their shots on NFL rosters, the injury issues to his WRs sucked though.
@paulcareyjr @Jayjaybe I'll be circumspect and tend to agree. Weeden's not a kid anymore; he'll be 30 before Halloween. Still, Andrew Luck couldn't win the Heisman, twice, for the lack of receivers. Luck's arm also couldn't win the respect of many talking heads (re: Phil Sims) because his defenses kept getting the ball back with short fields and he lacked the deep speed receivers as well. "NFL mediocre" for Weeden isn't a certainty yet but the trend is there.