The most exciting thing about the preseason week one matchup between the Colts and the Jets was simply the return of football, or at least something very similar to it. Beyond that, it was a 13-10 loss that featured just 457 combined total yards, 3 bad snaps, and a 3rd and 42 (by the Jets).
Indianapolis’s first unit offense looked exceptionally sharp for August, which is exactly what any Colts fan could’ve hoped for in the first preseason game. Andrew Luck hit on 4/5 passes for 53 yards and a 110.8 QB rating on his first and only drive but had to settle for a field goal shortly after an injury to starting center Khaled Holmes.
The Jets eventually answered late in the first quarter with a 51 yarder after gaining just 27 yards in 7 plays (They averaged 3.4 yards per offensive play for the game).
The Colts defense looked strong through most of the game, and held the Jets’ runners in check. The push up front certainly was a thing of beauty, even if it is just the first week in August.
Matt Hasselbeck, who was 10/15 for 114 yards (including a 45-yarder to Da’Rick Rogers down the right sideline) and a 111.5 rating, threw a short pass to running back Boom Herron early in the second quarter, which Herron took 12 yards to the end zone. The young back showed some nice acceleration, hitting the gas after slowing down a bit for the catch and eventually diving into the endzone.
The Jets would tie it back up at 10 in with 6 minutes to go in the second quarter with their only sustained drive of the game. Mike Vick took them on a 14-play, 80-yard slow motion march capped off by a 1-yard TD from the ghost of Chris Johnson (yes, the same Chris Johnson who used to have bad games against Indy as a Titan).
The Colts would try to answer back, but by then, it was Chandler Harnish time, which is understandably a drop off from the talented Luck and the experienced Hasselbeck.
New York did their very best not to take advantage of the Colts’ lack of scoring punch in the second half as both teams went a combined 34:41 of game time without a single point. It was very…preseasony, but the defense did look good.
The Jets eventually stumbled into a 51-yard field goal to avoid what is in the unwritten rules of the NFL as one of the most embarrassing things in the sport: a preseason overtime – which, I must admit, would’ve been a little silly but fun to watch.
Standouts & Observations: The Negative
Backup Centers: After Holmes went down, the running game seemed to die, and the protection didn’t look so great at times either. Yes, the center position is important. If he plays well, the guards look better, and so on, leaving all the linemen to focus on their own assignments and not a nose tackle barreling toward Andrew Luck.
Holmes’s backup, undrafted rookie Jonatthan Harrison struggled in his suddenly expanded role, most notably with two bad snaps, one of which came out too early – as well as high and to the quarterback’s right – bouncing off Andrew Luck’s facemask to stall an otherwise very efficient first drive.
Third String Sloppiness: Chandler Harnish had a rough go. It’s hard to say how much of that was on him and how much could be attributed to the mishmash of mostly rookies who’ve never played together surrounding him on the field.
Running Backs Stuck in the New Jersey Mud: For most of the night, the running game was stagnant. After Trent Richardson gained 12 yards (8 and 4 according to the radio broadcast) on his first two carries, the running game pretty much died, going 47 yards on 24 carries the rest of the way. That’s 1.95 yards per carry if you were wondering (26/59/2.3 overall), and two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-punts just isn’t going to cut it in the regular season.
Standouts & Observations: The Positive
Former CFL top draft pick Henoc Muamba, or as reader Cole Kercheval calls him, The Blue Muamba, was a furious, whirring tackle machine, leading the team with 12 tackles, 10 of them solo, and generally wreaking havoc without giving up big yards. Anyone who had the ball while he was on the field certainly knew who Number 51 was.
If the Colts keep five inside linebackers again, this guy should make the team. If they don’t, Muamba could still be on the 53-man roster if he continues to play the way he did against the Jets.
Cory Redding, Josh Chapman, Arthur Jones, and Ricky Jean Francois. These guys may not shut down running backs like they’re playing Madden on “rookie” every week, but this first game was very encouraging. The quarterbacks got free a couple of times, but New York’s running backs combined for 33 carries for 72 yards and 2.1 ypc, much of that coming in the second half. I’d say more, but I’m afraid one of these guys will tackle me behind the line of scrimmage.
Andrew Luck wasn’t on the field very long, but he was effortlessly in command. His first two passes were a -1 yard screen and an incomplete. After that, he went 3/3, including an impressive third down conversion (15 yards to Hakeem Nicks on 3rd and 11), for 54 yards. Watch out, NFL.
Jonathan Newsome and Cam Johnson came shared a sack of Mike Vick and generated some nice pressure. The Colts need more of that in Mathis’s absence.
Andy Studebaker isn’t the most important linebacker on the team, but he’s a good special teams guy, and he came up with 6 tackles and a couple of good plays in pass coverage late in the game.
Matt Hasselbeck isn’t a player of whom we’re monitoring the development or anything, but the elderly by NFL Standards quarterback still has it. He did have an underthrow that could’ve been an interception, but he also played intelligently, throwing the ball out the back of the endzone when no one was open, checking down to shorter passes when necessary (like the touchdown), and he even showed that he still has a big arm with his deep ball to Rogers.
We hope he never plays unless it’s to hand off and take a knee, but it’s nice to see he can still do it 38.
T.Y. Hilton. Yes, Hilton is still the real deal. He had 3 catches on 3 targets for 38 yards including a 22-yarder while Luck was still in the game. If this guy gets over the top, or even a full step ahead on a slant route, there’s little a cornerback can do.
What a great find in the third round. One can only hope this year’s third round receiver Donte Moncrief, a physically gifted and solid route runner, can follow a similar path.