As you may already know if you read Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, momentum in football is an iffy concept (see here for Barnwell’s insightful treatise on the subject). Generally speaking, teams win and lose because they play well or poorly, regardless of any vague notions of being hot or cold over some arbitrary length of time.
Nevertheless, the Colts’ offensive line is playing by far its best ball of the season right now, and that’s a good thing. They finally seem to have figured out how to protect Andrew Luck. All five starters were at 88% or higher in pass blocking Sunday against the Jaguars. It was the fourth straight game in which no starter dipped below 86% in pass protection, after at least one was below 83% in each of the first five games I charted. The linemen have given up only two sacks in those four games. That prorates to eight over a full season, a figure that’s decidedly Peyton-esque.
Tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus have picked up their pass blocking during this stretch, and the rotating cast of interior linemen have managed adequate protection, if not always ideal. Check out a few of the pockets Andrew Luck was working with on Sunday:
Unsurprisingly, when he has that much space, Luck can pick apart a secondary.
I know I’m a broken record on this, but the running game was lousy once again this week, grinding out just 80 yards on 28 carries, a 2.9 average. Every starter blew at least six run blocks. Only six of Indy’s 28 runs went for five yards or more, and they never had two consecutive runs of five-plus yards.
Among many others, Greg touched on this in his excellent Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Chiefs game: the Colts don’t have the personnel, especially on the line, to make a run-first offense work. They’ve taken a big step forward offensively the past four weeks because they’ve opened things up and let Luck find open receivers on quick timing routes. News flash: he’s pretty good at that. Maybe when Donald Thomas comes back and Hugh Thornton is finished developing and Khaled Holmes is permitted to play, this will be a decent run-blocking line, but right now it just isn’t. Here’s hoping we see more of the hurry-up, three-wide, shotgun stuff on Saturday.
DISCLAIMER: Grading offensive line play is inevitably subjective, since it’s impossible to know assignments and how the linemen are coached. Still, subjective scores provide a useful baseline for qualitative analysis. These scores are based on whether the linemen appeared to succeed in their assignments, based on their apparent targets and how the plays developed. I assign all blocks a grade of ‘+’ (good block), ‘-’ (bad block) or ‘/’ (not involved, usually meaning the lineman couldn’t find anyone to block); ‘/’ plays are not scored. My charting table is included at the bottom of this post. I welcome criticism and commentary.no comments