The second preseason game is in the books, which featured a so-so performance from all units. While some areas improved, others regressed.
1.) I think we get too worked up over player performance in the preseason. Too often, we are quick to berate players when they have a bad game, and too often we are quick to praise them when they light the world on fire. Fans should hold off on their judgments until all preseason games are over, when they can make a final assessment. You just never know how a player will look week to week. Curtis Painter and Taj Smith looked like two of the first roster cuts last week and this week they looked like Manning to Harrison reincarnated. Blair White looked like a breakthrough player last Sunday but did not have a single catch this week.
We are looking for consistency from these players. If they can show they are able to put up respectable performances week in and week out, that is when we can determine whether they belong on the roster or not.
2.) I think we wont really know where this offense stands until we have a consistent group of starters on the offensive line. There have been a lot of changes over the past two weeks and it has produced a mixed bag of results. Against the 49ers last week, the line provided decent pass protection with terrible run blocking. This week, they were boom-bust in run blocking and atrocious when pass blocking. Until we see the Colts with its regular starters up front, how capable the offensive line truly is will continue to be a bit of an enigma.
3.) I think the kick and punt return positions are going to come down to Brandon James and Devin Moore. For the past two weeks, the two players that have made something with virtually nothing have been James and Moore. Yesterday, Brandon James displayed excellent elusiveness and toughness as he caught a punt in between three defenders and got past them for a 19 yard return.
Moore also displayed good moves in the open field and routinely got past the 20 on kick returns, getting the ball onto the 30 yard line most of the time. In addition, his punt returns looked great as well with an explosive 49 yard return.
The main reason why these two should be the main choices for the return jobs has more to do with Ray Fisher, however. Muffed punts and fumbles are unforgivable in the eyes of the Colts coaches and front office. When Fisher fumbled that punt yesterday, it placed a huge dent in his chances to be the starting return man, The last time the Colts had a viable kick returner who fumbled the ball (Courtney Roby), he was given his walking papers.
4.) I think Jerry Hughes will undergo the same process Freeney went through. It will be a while before we see any real impact from Hughes because the development of a defensive linemen requires a tremendous amount of learning from a technical standpoint. There are so many moves and techniques that a defensive linemen has to be taught that are far different from the college game. Collegiate players are so adept at using their sheer physical talents to make plays. In the pros, it takes a combination of physical gifts and technique to make an impact. I think by early to mid season is when we will see what Jerry Hughes is all about.
5.) I think the cornerbacks need a little more time to adjust to man coverage. The 70 yard bomb to Lee Evans was indicative of that as both Bullitt and Hayden bit hard on a play action fake, leaving a streaking Lee Evans wide open down the right sideline.. While I understand and agree with the Colts trying to be a more aggressive defense, I still believe that limiting big plays should be the objective. The Colts need to find a balance between Dungy’s disciplined style and Coyer’s aggressive style so that more big plays can be made, while the number of bombs down field remain in check.
-Terrail Lambert has really impressed with his pass coverage the last two weeks. He stayed stride for stride with his receiver and knocked a lot of passes away.
-Despite muffing a punt, Ray Fisher looked good in coverage as well. He did not have any deflections, but, like Lambert, was able to stay with his receiver.
-Bob Sanders looked fast and ready to hit somebody. Although he virtually did not play at all last year (save a few snaps against the Rams and Niners), he looked very natural executing Coyer’s blitzes, and forced Edwards to make some bad throws.
-Javarris James is a great effort player. He did not make any explosive runs, but got positive yardage each time he got a touch. He was very productive on special teams, throwing a great block for Devin Moore and was there early on punt returns to intervene with the returner.