Sunday, September 21, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 3 vs. Jaguars

Quick summary:

The Colts get a breather against FCS foe Jacksonville in a game that emphasizes their strengths and reveals few of their flaws. The most exciting part of the game is the debut of Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles, who threw three touchdowns, including one to Greg Toler.

People have to pay to see this. Poor, poor Jacksonville fans. The stadium added pools to give the place a unique feel, but the team is horrible. The first half was lifeless ineptitude on offense and defense. The Colts scored points on their first six possessions. They put 20 points on the board before the Jags even got a first down.

He's pretty Lucking good. Luck was pretty much flawless in this game, getting plenty of time in the pocket for the most part and hitting his receivers on the mark in most cases. He threw four touchdown passes (and really should've thrown five), one each to Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen.

Improved pass rush. Listen, it's really hard to tell if the pass rush was really that effective since the Colts were playing AAA-affiliate-caliber Jacksonville. Still, they finished with four sacks and put consistent heat on the Jags' hapless offensive line by bringing pressure with different looks and personnel.

That time Reggie Wayne intercepted a pass intended for him. One of my favorite moments of the game was when a Jacksonville defender sat back in coverage and licked his chops for an interception only to be let down when Wayne stepped in front of him and made the catch. Then the Jacksonville players started whining to referees about a push off or some nonsense like that. It was fun.

Some turnovers. Vontae Davis and Greg Toler both had interceptions. D'Qwell Jackson forced a fumble and Darius Butler recovered it. Again, it's kind of like taking candy from a baby when it comes to the Jaguars, but it was still good to see the Colts force the issue and win the turnover battle.

Why is Stephen A. Smith talking to Richard Sherman in a Gorton's fisherman outfit? These commercials made zero sense and played about a billion times.

Money. Adam Vinatieri, Mr. Reliable. Good from 48, 43, and 25 yards.

Ground it out. For the second straight week, the Colts' ground attack was productive. Neither Trent Richardson nor Ahmad Bradshaw lit up the stat sheet, but they were able to break some good runs. Richardson's 27-yard scamper was particularly notable. The Colts averaged five yards per attempt.

But it's not all good. Richardson couldn't punch it in after two consecutive carries from the 1-yard line. The Colts brought this guy in to steamroll defenders in situations like this. No dice.

Hasselbeck! It's a good sign when you see the veteran backup enter the game. It means the Colts are rolling along.

Fleenered! How open was Coby Fleener? Waaaaay open. How did he drop the pass? The world may never know.

Hilton active. Five catches for 80 yards this week for T.Y. Hilton. He left the game with an ankle injury that we're hoping isn't severe. After a middling start to the year, it was great to see him make a few plays.

Gus Bradley's Red Flag of Discontent. The Jaguars head coach threw a challenge flag with under two minutes left in the first half. It was stupid. However, in the "old days," throwing a red flag would've nullified the ability for the play to be reviewed. The NFL changed the rule, though, taking a useless timeout from the Jaguars as recompense for Bradley's stupidity. If the Jaguars hadn't had a timeout at that point in the game, they would've been penalized...but the play still would've been reviewed. This rule change--which protects boneheaded coaches who do boneheaded things--was changed thanks to Jim Schwartz's Thanksgiving Anti-Miracle.

Ageless Reggie Wayne. Four catches, 62 yards. Nothing flashy or spectacular for No. 87, but a solid performance nonetheless.

Donte Moncrief. Moncrief saw more playing time this week because of an injury to Hilton and the fact that the Colts were destroying the opposition. He had four catches for 55 yards and one rush for seven yards. I think the Colts have to get him on the field more, as he's shown explosion and elusiveness after the catch.

Probably should've held them to three points. Blake Bortles' first career NFL touchdown pass had little to do with him, actually. Receiver Allen Hurns broke through tackles from Darius Butler and Mike Adams (no relation). I haven't seen tackling that bad since I played defensive end at Northeastern High School.

Probably should've held them to ten points. Bortles used the fake spike to lull the Colts defense into "don't even try" mode. This one was waaaaaay too easy.

Toler's big play. It wasn't a pressure situation or particularly necessary, but Greg Toler showed his ballhawk tendencies by picking off a Bortles pass and taking it all the way to the house.

The future? Jacksonville wasn't going to make the playoffs (or even be competitive, apparently) with Chad Henne under center. It's the easiest coaching/personnel move to make after an 0-3 start: let Bortles play. The fans will pay to see him, he'll get to develop with no pressure, and you'll get a full account of what he can do.