In watching the tape of Sunday’s game, it’s hard not to notice the massive difference between the Indy blitz in the first half and the second half.
By my count, the Colts blitzed 7 times in the first half. 5 of the 7 lead to positive plays for the Texans. Indy blitzed 6 men three times, with two of the three ending poorly for the Colts. A Colts’ blitz reguarly ended in a big gain for the Texans.
In the second half, the Colts blitzed 8 times, but 5 of the 8 ended well, including two of the key plays of the game: Clint Session’s interception and Mathis’s strip sack. In fact, most of the negative second half blitzes for the Colts occurred on the final Texans drive after the game was decided and the DBs were playing loose, and one of those was simply the result of an excellent athletic play by Schaub to escape good pressure.
So in all, I tallied a total of 15 blitzes, with 7 successful attempts. That’s not a great percentage overall, but it’s clear the blitz was effective in the second half as it caused two huge turnovers.
Here are my observations as to why the blitz was more effective in the second half:
- In the second half, it seems like the Colts were told to ignore the P/A fakes. On one play in particular, a blitzing Session totally ignores a fake hand off and stays right on Schaub, forcing him to throw the ball away to avoid a safety. It may just be that the Colts decided they weren’t going to let Schaub beat them through the air. The Texans really got away from the run. It’s one of the reasons I felt like they panicked.
- On a couple of plays, the difference was all Mathis. He got home on a couple of plays where the Colts blitzed. Sometimes, the blitz helped occupy the back who would have doubled him (like on his strip sack), but at least once, he just whipped his man straight up. Robert Mathis played an incredible game and was all over the field in the second half.
- The Colts disguised the blitzer better in the second half. They frequently ran Brackett and Session up to the line and rotated which one actually came. This was the key move in Session’s pick. He faked blitz (Brackett did blitz) and dropped into coverage. Brackett got doubled, which let the DT get in on Schaub who threw quickly to his right. He never recognized that Session had dropped into coverage, and Clint took it to the house. At other times, the Colts would show blitz and only rush three men. This seemed to frustrate Schaub into making bad decisions.
The blitz is a mixed bag. It does lead to good plays for the offense, more often than not, but when it works, the result can be a game changing turnover. You’ll never see the two edged sword of the blitz illustrated more starkly than in the first and second halves of last Sunday’s game.