Tale of the Tape: Week Three vs. Steelers

So, I finally got around to watching the game film, and this game sure was a good one to get back into the habit. Anyway, this feature will run for most weeks, now that I'm once again able to get the tape in a fairly short amount of time.

On to Sunday's surprisingly good game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers! First, I don't think it can be expressed enough just how good Pat Angerer was playing Sunday night, especially in run support. Angerer's 21 tackles is a rarity in the NFL.

Angerer was flying all over the field, hitting the gaps perfectly on running plays, and making big hits to stop ball carriers in their tracks. He was the leader of the defense on a night where they performed tremendously, and nearly won the game for the Colts, despite a lack of offensive help. Angerer does still need to improve on his coverage which is why Gary Brackett will retain his starting job at MLB.

Personally, I'd love to see Angerer at MLB, with Brackett at WILL or rotating in on passing situations. From the first few games, it seems like Angerer is just a more natural fit in the middle, and should start there. However, I seriously doubt that happens, and I don't have a problem with it.

Brackett is the captain of the defense, is a seasoned veteran, and is still a much better linebacker in coverage, not to mention he's getting paid far too much for a benching.

Since we're discussing linebackers, it's worth noting that the rest of the linebackers, mainly Kavell Conner and Phillip Wheeler, performed admirably on Sunday night as well. Kavell Conner in particular was very good against the run, although Wheeler has impressed me since getting a chance to start.

The one thing that seems to be the downside to these exciting young linebackers is their performance in pass coverage. Their inability to effectively man the zone coverage was the main culprit in the third and long frustrations against the Steelers.

Now, the three of them generally did very well with short passes, as they could converge on the ball very quickly and keep gain to a minimum. However, they just seemed to get lost on longer plays, often times just not getting deep enough (perhaps in fear of Roethlisberger's scrambling ability?).

Still on the defensive theme, I made a special note to watch Jerraud Powers during the Steelers' game. My initial thought was that he had a good game, at least in comparison to the first two (where he was disappointing, IMO). After re-watching the game, I understand why some people may have thought that Powers didn't have a good game.

Powers was at the center of two big plays on the night. First, he gambled and missed on a short pass to Mike Wallace during the first Steelers'  drive, resulting in a 25 yard gain. Powers also lost Emaanuel Sanders while he was behind him on the 3rd and 18 during the fourth quarter.

Those two plays could have stood out to people, but Powers was very good for the majority of the night, both in run support and in coverage. One thing I noticed more this game was the Colts using Powers on the slot receivers.

I then went back and checked, and realized that the Colts have been doing this for a long time. I suppose that the reason is that Powers is better at run support (a fact supported by my observations) than their other corners, but I'm not sure how effective it is to have your best cover corner on a slot receiver. Against Wes Welker, sure, but with Mike Wallace on the outside?

In the end, I was overall encouraged with Powers' play during the Steelers game. He made solid tackles, covered well, especially when asked to press up, and had one heck of a pass defense on a third down in the fourth quarter.

Another defensive player that was brought to my attention was CB Terrence Johnson, who had a very good game. He played very physical, and had the best shot on Ben Roethlisberger all night. He got a lot of playing time Sunday, look for him to possibly overtake Jacob Lacey soon. Justin Tryon meanwhile still seems to be Coach Caldwell's doghouse.

Other notes on the defense: While Antonio Johnson played well, I was most impressed by the play of the 3-tech tackles, whether it was Drake Nevis or Eric Foster. Both played very well, although Nevis was more impressive (playing both UT and NT). Also, the soft zone is a killer. It just is.

On offense, I noticed several things:

  • Joseph Addai is a really good running back. I've been saying this for two years now, but look what he can do with a competent offensive line! Addai is averaging 4.8 YPC on the year, and was at 5.1 against the Steelers' vaunted defense. I was impressed with the Colts' defense against the run, but Pittsburgh offensive line is terrible, so I was much more impressed by the run game against the Steelers, especially with Addai running. He's showing great vision, toughness, and his blitz pickup is amazing to say the least. At one point, he actually blocked two blitzers on the same play by blocking the first one into the second one's path. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I'm going to go with the former.
  • Mike Pollak had a very nice game. For the player who has become a fan whipping boy (unfairly, IMO), it was nice to see him quietly have a very good game. He was getting out on the second level on runs, and paving the way for 6-10 yard runs by Addai. Pollak, and the rest of the line, also performed quite well in pass protection give the QB's a generally clean pocket all day.
  • I thought before that Dallas Clark one-on-one blocking James Harrison was just a miscommunication error of some sort, but after watching the game again, I don't believe that was the case. If it happened in pass blocking, it was an accident, but it seemed like the Colts coaches (whether it be Christiensen or Metzelaars) thought Clark could handle Harrison on running plays. Big mistake. If the Colts ran to that side, Clark could not stop Harrison from getting to the ball. He just isn't able to. Brody Eldridge on the other hand, blocked very well. One of my favorite moments was when Eldridge literally blocked Harrison to his knees, bending him backwards. It was awesome.
  • Chris Collinsworth mentioned it during the broadcast, and I noticed it for the rest of the game: Kerry Collins release is extremely slow. Peyton Manning has an ungodly release, so the dropoff seems even biggger, but even Painter's throw gets out of there quicker than Collins' huge wind-up.
  • Pierre Garcon needs to no try and catch the ball with his arms. When he does, he drops it. Use your hands! That being said, he played a very good game, and seemed to be open quite a bit, even if the quarterbacks weren't getting him the ball.
  • Collins' play in the red-zone was once again horrid, but it wasn't helped by some of the terrible playcalling. On first and ten from the 13, the Colts ran a bubble screen to Pierre Garcon. The first issue I have with the play is that the Colts are on the 13 yard line. With them being so close to the endzone, everything is more cramped. The defense, especially the safeties and cornerbacks, are much to close for this to work. Second, the Colts hiked the ball from the right hashmarks, and then threw the screen to the right side. Again, that side is going to be congested, and the linebackers will be closer to the play. Garcon had, of course, no where to go when he received the pass, and was tackled immediately for a two yard loss.
  • Curtis Painter came in cold, but recovered wonderfully from the fumble and led the team on the game tying touchdown drive. I've watched that fumble countless times, and I can't fault Painter much at all. Castonzo had a great night vs. Harrison, but his one mistake cost the Colts 7 points.
  • The Colts coverage teams may be bad, but Pat McAfee is doing everything he can to help them out, mainly by booming kickoffs through the uprights for a touchback.

Anything I missed that you noticed? Let us know in the comments.

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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