Where on earth did that come from? After mediocre defensive performances against the Raiders and Dolphins, the Colts defense was primed for a shellacking last weekend in San Francisco against a dangerous offense incorporating the dual threat of Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore at QB/RB. In the event, the Colts held the Niners to 254 total yards - completely unforeseeable.
How was it accomplished? There are a few factors to consider, in my mind. The first is the absence of Vernon Davis - having looked as though he was likely to play all week, Davis ultimately wound up inactive on Sunday, and it showed. The 49ers offense - previously the model of versatility at TE utilising Davis, Delanie Walker etc etc - looked completely flat from a passing perspective, and I'd put that down to the loss of Davis along with Michael Crabtree much earlier in the year.
The above leads me onto the second factor - the indecisiveness and development of Colin Kaepernick. He simply doesn't look like the passer we saw last year, and looks timid and afraid when it comes to putting the ball on his receivers, even Anquan Boldin. The aforementioned loss of Davis on top of Crabtree does give him some leeway there, though it doesn't really excuse his performance on Sunday, which as I alluded to earlier was poor to say the least. Having watched the tape two or three times over, there are numerous occasions on which Kaepernick should be completing the pass, often to a man in a fair amount of space.
The third factor? Damn good defense, which I don't think many (myself no exception) saw coming. Kaepernick's confidence issues with his receivers combined with some tight coverage allowed the defense to lock it down through the air, with some shorter passes to Boldin inevitably completed. LaRon Landry and Pat Angerer largely weren't missed, with the absence of Davis crucial to masking the limitations of their replacements - Delano Howell and Kelvin Sheppard/Kavell Conner - in the passing game.
I think there are two particular performers worthy of praise this week, both universally lauded Grigson acquisitions: Jerrell Freeman and Cory Redding. Freeman was simply the most impressive linebacker on the field - Willis, Bowman, Mathis.. nope. Freeman was the standout guy, flying around the field with reckless abandon to try and stall the 49ers ground game - and given Kaepernick's limitations on the day, he frequently found himself targeted in coverage on the shallow routes Kaepernick was confident enough to try. He ended the day with an impressive statline: 8 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Here are a couple of plays from Freeman's big day..
The 49ers are at this point down 13-7 with 5:00 remaining in the 3rd Quarter. It's a 1st and 10 from the SF 49, and they're continuing their efforts on the ground with the option threat of Kaepernick ever-present.no comments
The Colts beat the 49ers on Sunday, which is why the NFL is so much fun.
Nevertheless, win they did. And that's the NFL for you. It's different every week, yet the exact same. Any team can win any week, but certain truths are self evident: The Packers won't win a close game, the Chargers will choke away a fourth quarter lead, the Jaguars are bad and Peyton Manning is king.
These Colts seem to play different every week, but they always perform unexpectedly, whether it's beating a team by 20 that they were supposed to be blown out by or sneaking by a team that they were supposed to blow out. Every week is different and yet the same in that it defies our expectations.
I've broken down the win a few times already, and I'll have more breakdowns (including a video post!) here in the next couple days when All-22 comes out. But for today, I just want to take one last chance to revel in some of the great moments that I found when rewatching the game. To do this, we go to our trusty GIFs.
NOTE: I didn't have time to do rollovers today, so the loading time is going to be long for this article. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.no comments
Editor's Note: This is purely hypothetical fun. Olly was bored, which generally is when our most interesting things get done. If we get any angry comments/tweets/emails about how we hate Luck and need to let go of the past, blah, blah, blah I will never photoshop (ok, paint) Jim Irsay onto a fire-breathing stallion again. This is like using ESPN's trade machine and building a basketball team to rule all basketball teams. IT'S NOT A COMMENTARY ON HOW THE COLTS SHOULD HAVE KEPT MANNING. Are we clear? Ok. Good.- KJR
Last week on Twitter, I very casually floated the idea of playing a game. Former Browns GM Mike Holmgren admitted last week that he offered Ryan Grigson his entire haul of picks in the 2012 draft, in order to move up from the No. 4 spot and draft Andrew Luck.
Of course, your mind begins to wonder. What if we'd kept Peyton Manning? What if we'd got all those picks? Who would/could we have drafted?
Never fear, as my boredom and frightening love for the NFL Draft means I've put together a “What might have been” for the Colts. For the purposes of the challenge, we'll be assuming that the picks made by the Colts in 2012 will remain.no comments
This morning, the Colts announced that they have signed defensive end Lawrence Guy, who spent much of last season and the 2013 preseason with Indianapolis, as well as offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, an undrafted rookie who was on the Washington Redskins practice squad. (continued after the jump)
So, I set out on a quest to find out just that. What follows is not trade analysis. I am not going to tell you who wins or loses a trade less than a week after it was made. What we'll be looking at is what effect, if any, a strong passing game has on the running game and vice-versa.
A Blowout, Yes, but Certainly No Walk in the Park
Yesterday, Indianapolis rolled into San Francisco as 10.5-point underdogs and left as dominant victors. Any given Sunday, right? The 49ers were stunned, incredulous, and certainly dismayed after such an unexpected and total defeat at home.
The Colts, well, you would have thought they eked it out on a last second field goal. According to Pagano, this blowout was no easy task. “That was a 15-round slugfest,” the Colts coach said after their 27-7 win. “That was exactly what we thought it was going to be. It’s what we prepared for. I’m going to give credit to them. That’s one heck of a football team as we know. What a great football game. It was a hard fought football game.
“To be able to run the ball like we ran the ball, move the chains, get first downs, it was tough sledding. We had pep talks about body punches. A 1-yard game, a 2-yard game a 3-yard game, don’t get discouraged. As long as we are not taking negative plays and getting behind the sticks and are staying on schedule, we’ll be fine. In the first half, both sides, third down, it was tough. Points and yards were tough to come by.”
Do we start with an offensive line which gave up 3 sacks and countless hurries and whose poor play never really allowed the team to get into a rhythm? Do we focus on the receivers who failed to create any separation in the secondary and, when the ball was thrown their way, were unable to come up with a big catch?
Or do we look at the quarterback? Called the future of the league in the preseason, he was unable to find any sort of consistency. Too many incomplete passes, too much indecision, too much wild scrambling in the backfield.
Should we turn our ire towards the coaches, who inexplicably stopped calling running plays after the first drive of the 3rd quarter, despite their brutal efficiency (19 carries for 101 yards (5.3ypc))? Coaches who seemed shocked that the opposing defense played a responsible, yet aggressive defense at all three levels?
Yes, that happened. And it's a great day to be a Colts fan.
If you had told me before today that the Colts would need to play a great game to beat San Francisco, I’d believe you. If you’d told me that the Colts run game might struggle against the heavily favored 49ers, I believe I’d be on board with that too.
However, had anyone wished to inform me that the Colts defense, especially their secondary, would play a masterpiece of a game against a very talented 49ers team, I might have had my doubts – even as a fan. Had anyone predicted Indianapolis would roll up 179 rushing yards while blowing the doors of the 49ers, well, we know where this is going. In fact, all the ingredients were in place for a blowout, just not the kind we saw today.