Monday, November 24, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 12 vs. Jaguars

Quick summary:

After getting steamrolled by an actual NFL team last week, the Colts get back on track thanks to the NFL schedule makers. Early on, it didn't look like they'd capitalize on this gift, but eventually, Jaguars happened.

Strong game by the offensive line, especially in the first half. Take this sentence and know it is sarcasm. The offensive line got pushed around a lot by the Jaguars' front seven. A lot of people have been saying "the Jags' front seven isn't that bad, it's just that their offense is horrible." I'm inclined to agree with that with the caveat that the Colts o-line was pretty ineffective to start the game.

Is this the end for #GRIFFNATION? Um...yeah...probably. The Colts signed Josh Cribbs and elevated Zurlon Tipton from the practice squad because they needed another running back. The odd man out was Griff Whalen, the spunky returner/bench warmer who was adrift in a sea of talent at wide receiver.

Will Cribbs actually have an impact? There's no doubt I saw flashes of the exciting Josh Cribbs I'm mostly familiar with in "Game Break" updates. His first kickoff return was electrifying. He even had a punt return touchdown, although that was negated by a penalty (just like any of the good returns by Whalen we've seen this year). I think Cribbs will be a good addition and won't be surprised if the Colts use him as a jet sweep option or something like that.

What's wrong with Ageless Reggie Wayne? Reggie hasn't been himself since that elbow injury. He's not catching balls and is struggling to get separation. There's just something "off" about him. He had nine targets but only three catches for a meaty 10 yards.

When being pursued by a pack of Jaguars, don't run 20 yards back. One thing Andre Luck has to learn is that some plays just aren't meant to be. Running backwards to get away from pass rushers seldom works. Protect the ball and take the sack instead of taking an even larger loss or coughing up the football.

It's a fumble! Fumble-rooski! Fumble-laya! Andrew Luck got rocked by the pass rush and fumbled twice, giving the Jaguars false hope that they could compete in this game (it was 6-3 at halftime, remember). Daniel "BOOM" Herron also had a costly fumble inside the red zone. The Colts had six (SIX!) fumbles during the game and lost three of them.

Protect the franchise. Luck was sacked five times in the first half after an embarrassing performance by the offensive line. Priority No. 1 has to be protecting Luck, and the Colts failed miserably at that in a head-scratching first half. They were better in the second half--when A.Q. "The Lost Lineman" Shipley came into the game for Hugh Thornton.

T.Y. "Big Daddy" Hilton. I couldn't mention the game without mentioning Hilton, who got loose for a 73-yard touchdown. He had 122 yards receiving and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. It was all, of course, for his newborn daughter, born just a few hours before the game. And that postgame interview...

BOOM! Herron was effective in his most significant action of the year. The thing I notice about him is that he runs hard...really hard. The other thing I noticed? He put the ball on the turf twice, losing one of them. Can't happen.

Richardson Report. Thirteen carries, 42 yards, a meaty 3.2 average. He did get loose for a 12-yard run and also scored a touchdown with some tough running at the goal line. Still, as always, it's just not good enough.

Solid defensive effort. After getting roughed up last week, the defensive unit came through with a dominant effort. However, there's a huge difference between the Patriots' offense and the Jaguars' "offense," so you gotta grade on a curve. I'll give them credit for creating some turnovers and never letting Jacksonville get into the end zone.

"The Jaguars got five downs on one set of downs!" No, they didn't--it just felt like it. The Colts (in a baffling maneuver) called a timeout on third down, negating a really nice play from Vontae Davis on the much larger Marcedes Lewis. The Colts still managed to stop Jacksonville from scoring a TD.

"Colby" Fleener. The Colts tight end was repeatedly called "Colby" during the broadcast. Darius Butler was also called by the wrong first name (Dante? I can't remember exactly) a couple times.

"And who says Andrew Luck can't run?" This was another gem from our crack team of game experts. I'll admit that Luck isn't a running quarterback, but he is a quarterback who can run. He ended up with eight carries for 49 yards.

Vontae's interception. I'll give a lot of credit to the Colts cornerback for jumping in front of a Blake Bortles pass at a key moment. The Colts had just turned the ball over again, and Davis bailed them out. Since Indy had so much trouble scoring, I really wished he'd been able to return it all the way. The 42-yard return was good enough, though.

Money money money money...Vinny! This guy's been so good. He's hit 31 field goals in a row.