Thanks to Brad Wells at Stampede Blue, I was recently pointed to an article at Pro Football Weekly, in which the author (Arthur Arkush) calls for the Colts to give second year players Kevin Thomas and Jerry Hughes playing time. This of course, lines up perfectly with what I've been saying all week, and last week, earlier this year, and even in preseason. But, back to Arkush:
With the season over for all intents and purposes, isn't it time for the Colts to find out what they have in Thomas, an impressive athlete who looks the part but has not played in an NFL game? (Thomas missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury.)
As I said in the comments earlier this week, we cannot effectively assess Thomas without him being given time on the actual field. Thomas has the athletic ability, and has shown potential, but he has never gotten into an NFL regular season game.
For a third round pick, that's astounding. Get him on the field just to see what he has. What do we have to lose? As for Hughes, Arkush has a similar message:
Prolific pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have been two of the club's best players this season under nearly impossible circumstances. But there is not another threat to create havoc on the roster, and Mathis will be a free agent at season's end. Moreover, while neither player appears to be slowing down, they are both north of 30 and can't play at this level forever — the exact reason why Hughes was drafted. We certainly aren't suggesting Hughes takes snaps away from the two perennial Pro Bowlers, but what happened to all the talk of packages designed to get all three players on the field together, let alone getting Hughes on the field period?
What happened to those packages? I'm asking myself the same question. The Colts did use those packages (albeit sparingly) against Matt Cassel and the Chiefs, and the packages worked (in terms of getting to the quarterback). Hughes got snaps in the week before as well, getting a sack on Josh Freeman. Then, the next week, Hughes was all of a sudden inactive again.
In a game where the Colts were facing a rookie quarterback, and the fearsome duo of Mathis and Freeney were bottled up by the tackles, the Colts needed a different way to get to the quarterback. Hughes and his joker package could have helped, and we know it couldn't have hurt!
Dalton had all day to throw, only getting pressured twice all game. Due to the fantastic protection, he carved up the Colts defense, completing 78% of his passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. The Colts defense needs an infusion from somewhere, and Thomas and Hughes both have enormous athletic potential. In a season that's going nowhere fast, it's time the Colts' coaches took a chance.