Friday, November 9, 2012

Colts Observations, Week 10

Them's the breaks, sweetheart. A fortuitous pass interference penalty. A fortuitous roughing the passer penalty. A fortuitous fumble challenge. A fortuitous upheld touchdown. A fortuitous overturned catch. The Colts certainly got some breaks this week--proving that sometimes you need some luck even when you already have Luck.

Hit 'em hard, hit 'em early. The Colts jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half. Jacksonville's drives sputtered--and they missed a field goal. This one was over early.

Tough Luck. Oh, will the Luck-related puns ever end? No. You know why? Because they're easy. Anyway, Luck showed his toughness on multiple occasions, hitting Jacksonville defensive back Dawan Landry after throwing an interception. Later, Luck got blasted while sliding. He hopped right back up, calmed down his teammates, and then shook hands with the defender in gentlemanly fashion.

Effective use of the challenge. For the first time in what seems like forever, the challenge curse of Dungy, Caldwell, and Arians seemed to go away. We shall always remember the glorious Thursday evening when the team's challenges made sense...and actually worked.

Rush, rush. Luck had two rushing touchdowns (although let's face it--the "QB sneak" was a fortuitous call). On the season, he has five rushing touchdowns. Apparently, that's a Colts QB record and puts "AL1" only one rushing touchdown behind RG3. As a team, the Colts had 138 yards. It was, again, just enough to keep the defense honest.

Reggie. That is all.

The Butler did it. Solid analysis always includes bad, predictable puns. Darius Butler had two interceptions and a recovered fumble. After a highly publicized turnover drought, Butler had three--accounting for half of the Colts' forced turnovers this season. Not bad for this week's Random Colts Player of the Game.

Like clubbing a baby sea lion. The Jaguars are bad. So, so, so bad. The score was 27-10, but it may as have been 45-10. Once Darius Butler took the interception back for a touchdown, the game was effectively over. You could even make the argument that the second Colts TD--the QB sneak--sealed the deal.

Get that man the ball. T.Y. Hilton is a dangerous, dangerous man in the open field. One of these days, he'll break off a big punt return. I liked how the Colts used him a couple times to run the ball.

Vinny on target. Each time Adam Vinatieri lined up to kick, I held my breath. Thankfully, he was on target this week.

Hey, we got it. Luck's good. I realize Thursday's game was the first time a national audience got to see Luck in action. Still, praise for the young quarterback bordered on "hero worship," with Mike Mayock admitting on multiple occasions that he "didn't want to talk too much" about Luck only to continue to talk about him. The poor kid's going to get the Manning Effect--we'll love him, everyone else will hate him--because the national media won't stop talking about him.

No MJD, thank you very much. The Jags' only true star, Maurice Jones-Drew, is injured. Considering he turns Colts defenders into puppies who can't tackle, I can't say I missed him very much. Jacksonville did, however. They had no running game to speak of.

Under pressure. Indy notched four sacks and could've had more. They were in Blaine Gabbert's face all game. Even though he's not 100%, Dwight Freeney seemed to regain some of his burst despite the short week. Nice cameos in the backfield by Tom Zbikowski and Antonie Bethea, too. I thought the defense played very aggressively.

Showing some mettle. Listen, I know Jacksonville is having a bad season. Still, they beat the Colts at home earlier this year. Winning on the road on a short week isn't easy...and for a young team like the Colts, it would've been very easy to lose focus. This team simply didn't let that happen against their AFC South rival.

Secondary concerns. The ballyhooed trade for Vontae Davis has been a bust because the kid can't stay healthy. Jerraud Powers is out with a foot injury. That all became a truly secondary concern when Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler had solid nights at corner.

Shorts circuit. If I were a Jags fan, about the only positive thing I could point to would be the play of Cecil Shorts III. That guy is explosive. He broke a couple of huge plays and had the Jags' only touchdown.

A little shorthanded. The Colts played this one without Samson Satele, Robert Mathis, Winston Justice, Coby Fleener, Jerraud Powers, and Vontae Davis.

At times, they seemed to lack cohesion. The offensive line play wasn't horrible for the Colts, but they had a few breakdowns and Luck paid for them. I know you're going to get beat every once in a while, but the line play didn't seem quite as sharp as in past weeks. I think that's because of some injuries along the ever-shuffling line.

Missing "the feel." Primetime NFL games usually have a feel--a sense of electricity in the air among fans and players. Perhaps it was the inevitability of the outcome or the Jacksonville fans who seemed more interested in Roger Goodell than their team, but this one seemed "flat" all the way around.

In the hunt...and it's for real. The Colts are 6-3. If they continue to play well, there is a chance that they'll finish with a record above .500 and grab a Wild Card spot. It'll be interesting to see how big those games against Houston--the teams play twice in three weeks--end up being.

Gotta clean it up. Were the Colts playing an actual NFL team instead of the cursed Jaguars, this would've been a nail-biter. The Colts gave the ball away a couple times in scoring position and were fortunate to get a couple breaks. With Foxborough looming, they have to play a cleaner game.