Accentuate the Positive: Shoutouts to Hughes, Allen, Fleener, Castonzo and Justice

The Colts’ 35-9 beatdown from the Jets on Sunday will lead to a lot of criticism this week, as the vast majority of the team played poorly.

After a loss like that, most fans are left reminiscing about 2011, which isn’t a pleasant place to be.

But, before the week gets completely miserable, I’d like to take some time to spotlight the few players that actually played well, namely Jerry Hughes, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Anthony Castonzo, and Winston Justice.

Jerry Hughes

Hughes has been much maligned for his lackluster play during his first couple years in Indianapolis, but he’s been playing well in 2012.

So far this season, Hughes is second among 3-4 outside linebackers in Pass Rush Productivity, the measure from ProFootballFocus that measures quarterback pressures per snap. He hasn’t finished the play and gotten the sack as often as you’d like, but he’s been the most consistent pass rusher for the Colts this year.

He stepped it up on Sunday, getting four pressures (a sack, two hits, and a hurry) on Mark Sanchez on just 15 snaps.

Hughes also stepped up during the run, having the highest grade by ProFootballFocus against the run for the Colts with a +1.5. Hughes had seven tackles on the day, six of which were stops (plays that are a failure for the offense).

At this point in the season, Jerry Hughes is outplaying Dwight Freeney by a long shot, and has been right at Robert Mathis’ level. Hughes is a better fit in the 3-4 scheme in Mathis’ spot, but at this point in the season, it may be in the Colts’ best interest to get Mathis and Hughes on the field together more often then not.

Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen

The two rookie tight ends have struggled at times to start the season, especially Coby Fleener who had struggled with drops in the preseason and in the first few games.

But Sunday, both rookies had a solid game, with the two top receiving grades from ProFootballFocus for the Colts.

Coby Fleener finished the game with just four receptions for 42 yards, but was able to get open on other times throughout the game. For instance, Fleener had a wide open touchdown pass in the first quarter, but Andrew Luck over threw him. After a struggle with drops over the last few weeks, Fleener didn’t have a drop this week.

Dwayne Allen finished with just two catches for 33 yards, including one for 21. Like Fleener, he had no drops and was open on other throws, including a third down overthrow by Luck on the game’s first third down.

Anthony Castonzo and Winston Justice

For an offensive line that struggled so much to protect Andrew Luck, it may come as a surprise that two linemen make this short list, but Castonzo and Justice both played a pretty good game, gaining ProFootballFocus grades of +3.3 and +3.2, respectively. 

Castonzo gave up just two pressures in 54 dropbacks, and was by far the best run blocker on the team, as he has been all season.

Winston Justice didn’t give up any pressures, and was the best pass protector in the game. He was not great in run blocking, but wasn’t near the liability that McGlynn and Linkenbach were.

For the season, the two have been the only bright spots on the offensive line, with Castonzo the better all-around lineman, Justice performing better in pass protection (of course, he hasn’t faced quite the same caliber rushers).

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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