Monday, October 29, 2012

Colts Observations, Week 8

Twice as good? The Colts aren't at the halfway point in the season yet and they've already won twice as many games as last year. They're certainly twice as good as last year...actually, they're much better than that.

Cue Jim Mora. It's early, but the Colts are 4-3 and finding ways to win games. Playoff talk is certainly premature, but think about it: if the playoffs started today, the Colts would sneak in as a Wild Card because the AFC is terrible.

On the road. The Colts have been lackluster and uninspired in their other roads games, getting dominated by the Chicago Bears and New York Jets. While the Bears look legit, the Jets are a mess. In both games, the Colts struggled. This wasn't a pretty win, but it's the first road win for Luck and if the Colts hope to think about the "P" word, they'll need some more away from Big Oil.

Give me a break, give me a break. The Colts got some help. The Titans committed a few stupid penalties that derailed their drives. A Vick Ballard fumble got called back because of an offsides penalty. Dwayne Allen's fumble wasn't ruled a fumble because the officials determined his forward progress was stopped before he coughed up the ball. The Colts needed some breaks to win on the road. They got a few.

Offensive pass interference. Apparently, this is a thing. The referees flagged Tennessee for three offensive pass interference penalties of varying degrees of actual offensive pass interference. One absolutely killed a drive; another took a touchdown away. I don't think I've seen offensive PI called so many times in one game.

Running. Always running. The running game didn't really click until the second half, but the Colts stuck with it. By the end of the game, they had more than 170 yards. Their game-winning drive was predicated mostly on the running game.

Taking his shots. As has become a weekly observation, Andrew Luck got hit a lot. Again. While watching the Sunday Night Game, I opined that it's a good thing Peyton Manning didn't have to play behind the Colts line. He would've been killed.

Fleet of foot. When the pocket breaks down, Luck can make something happen. He carried the ball six times for 28 yards, picking up a few first downs along the way. I love how he's always got his eyes downfield, waiting for someone to flash open. For the season, he has 26 runs for 143 yards--a 5.5 average per carry.

Sometimes a sack is a good thing. Luck does not like to give up on a play. I respect that. However, when the defense has you in its grasp, don't make a throw that looks like a fumble (and is, in fact, a fumble). Don't throw it into the breadbasket of a linebacker with a clear path to the end zone. Sometimes, you just have to take the sack.

Now your passes are complete. I've been surprised at Luck's completion percentage. It's not so terrible that it's cause for alarm, but I expected him to hover around 60 percent. Instead, he's been consistently in the lower half of the 50-percent mark. He was very accurate Sunday, completing about 68 percent of his passes. That was good to see.

O Canada, our home and native land. Jerrell Freeman, 14 tackles. He's always near the ball and remains one of the season's best stories.

Slowing down CJ. For the most part, the Colts kept Chris Johnson out of the game. He almost had a 100-yard day, but most of that came in the second half. They prevented him from having a monster day. With a guy like Johnson...containment is the key and he never hit the "home run."

No orange? No problem. Reggie Wayne continues to be a revelation. Seven catches, 91 yards. He's having a career year. For the season, he's caught 54 passes for 757 yards through seven games. Somehow, he always comes up with the big grab, including a monster catch in overtime on a key third down.

Fake Toss 39 Taxi Naked Right Screen Left. That's the name of the play Bruce Arians called to win the game. On the Frankenstein play, Luck faked a toss left, rolled right, scanned the right side of the field, scanned the middle, and then lofted a ball to running back Vick Ballard.

The Ballard-Copter has liftoff! This could be the play of the year, Ballard going airborne and doing a Superman/submarine/helicopter/inverted airplane maneuver to get inside the pylon and win the game.