During the bye week, it is good to look back at some of our previous games and get some perspective, and possibly look for the silver lining in our performances so far this year. Despite a chorus of pundits hailing the Chiefs defense, this game was more accurately an attempt for the offense to maim itself. Between poor performances by Ryan Diem and Mike Pollak, and the combination of Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark catching a paltry 50.0% of their passes, the offense would have made the Buffalo Bills defense look like it was playing Curtis Painter again.
Don’t fret because there is some good news. First, the defense stepped up in their usual fashion… just when we desperately needed them. We are still whiffing on tackles too much, but there are plenty of encouraging signs. The other piece of good news is that the offense was at a statistical low-point, which means it should swing back toward the great Colts offense the league has come to expect. This isn’t guaranteed, but considering Manning almost always comes back with a vengeance after a poor performance, and the numerous miscues are so out of character for this offense, one can’t help but believe that things have to be looking up from here (statistically and physically).
*Note: S = Superior, G = Good, A = Assist, F = Failed, M = Missed, T = Turned
Notes on the Offense
* Week 5 was another grab bag for Manning. While the receivers were really not helping Manning, he made numerous uncharacteristic errors that helped the Kansas City defense. While every receiver targeted more than once dropped at least one pass, Manning also had 7 overthrows, with his 2 other incompletions coming from passes defended. Some of this can be blamed on the line as Manning faced as much total pressure as he has since the Texans in Week One.
* To clarify, the offensive line did not struggle as a whole, only Mike Pollak and Ryan Diem had poor games. Charlie Johnson, Jamey Richard and Jeff Saturday all performed above their season average in good blocks (TG%), and reduced their overall percentage of bad blocks (TB%). None had their best games, but they still performed better than normal, and continued to show improvement.
* Diem and Pollak were less inspiring. Pollak had his worst game of the year, and his 4th bad game overall. His 55.4% good block rating was over 10 points lower than his previous worst, and his total bad blocks were much higher than his average (he was nearly +7 for the day in that category). Diem was little better and nearly had his second game of the season with more negative blocks than positive ones (he is the only Colt to do that so far this year). Diem had a team high 16 failed blocks (1 ahead of Pollak’s 15) to go along with 9 turns. He was beat straight-up multiple times and, teamed with Pollak, gave up the only sack, 4 of Manning’s 5 hits, and over half of the pressures.
* The Colts receivers did not help in this game. While only 2 passes were actually contested the whole game, Garçon, Wayne, and Clark drew 30 targets, dropped 7 of those passes, and collectively finished with a 50% completion percentage. Manning made throws under duress, and they weren’t always on the mark, but this was a bad day for Colts receivers. The two sources of inspiration on the receiving corps were Joseph Addai and Austin Collie who caught 10 of 13 passes for 88 yards, which works out to over 6.7 yards per attempt, which was well over 1 yard higher than what the team averaged on the whole. Despite having one “How did he drop that” dump-off, Addai and Collie were both on their game, and in numerous cases helped extend drives.
Notes on the Defense
* Despite not getting sacks, Freeney and Mathis continued to lay the wood on opposing QBs with a nice collection of hits and pressures. The opposing game-plan of double-teams, facemasks, and short passes has been effective in preventing sacks, but it is only a matter of time for Mathis and Freeney to get that extra tenth of a second and put together multi-sack games. Both Freeney and Mathis played significant time, which suggests that they are not wearing down and at peak conditioning.
* With Mitch King relegated to the practice squad, Mookie Johnson essentially doubled his snaps, but had only one assisted tackle to show for it. Daniel Muir had a pair of solo tackles and a QB pressure. Freeney had Keyunta Dawson replace him on odd downs, breaking up the nice 2-man rotations that had typified games up until now on the defensive line.
* Wheeler continues to sit for very nearly half the snaps in favor of Session, but keeps pace with Brackett and Session statistically. Wheeler is also showing considerable improvement, getting involved in plays much better, wrapping up guys consistently, displaying a good nose for the ball, and has even out-performed Brackett at times. Session has done the opposite. He was a strong LB in 2009 but this year he has been a poor tackler, and has made numerous mental mistakes – including blowing gap assignments, taking poor angles, and not reading play direction well.
* Antoine Bethea had a fairly big game. Aaron Francisco wasn’t really that big of a difference maker on the stat sheet, but he was only targeted twice, and both passes were incompletions. His two assisted tackles came in run support like Bob Sanders would traditionally do. While his play wasn’t particularly special, for a guy who signed a couple days before the game, he wasn’t a liability and did not miss any tackles.
* Hayden and Powers had identical tackling statistics, but in coverage Powers allowed 33 yards on 6 attempts and Hayden allowed 28 yards on his 4 passes. Powers helped force 2 incompletions. Hayden’s targets has no incompletions. Hayden also had a hit out of bounds that moved Kansas City into field goal range at the end of the first half. The two corners may have similar stats but they had dissimilar games. Powers was generally crisp and forced a fumble, while Hayden was a soft corner and made mental mistakes throughout the game.
* Our base 4-3 formation was less effective against the run than our nickel package. This is not the first time this has happened, but its a good sign for our nickel, which allowed essentially 4 yards less per carry than the base 4-3 defense. The pass defense was also better, allowing nearly 2 fewer yards per attempt than the seasonal average. Part of this is Matt Cassell throwing the ball, but it is also due to the secondary tightening up when they needed to.