Quick Thoughts: Colts 28, Jaguars 31

Josh Scobee celebrates after hitting a 59-yard game winning field goal. (John Raoux | AP Photo)

So, about that preview column from Saturday, let’s just keep that between you and me, okay? The Colts traveled to Jacksonville and were served a big dose of “running game pie”. As with the Houston game, however, defensive lapses and breakdowns don’t excuse the multitude of undisciplined plays from the offense. After the jump, I’ll give you the rest of my quick thoughts on the Colts loss.

The defense was bad, reverting to its Houston game form. Linebackers and defensive backs were over-pursuing on far too many rushing plays. That, combined with Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s amazing ability to change direction, allowed the Jaguars to gash the Colts defense for big chunks of yards.

Melvin Bullitt, who has had a rough start to the 2010 season, left the game injured. It didn’t make much difference, however, as Bullitt was having a pretty bad day before the injury. Safety is the area in which the Colts have the worst depth, but whoever suits up there next week will have to play better than Bullitt has been recently.

Kelvin Hayden had another up-and-down game, having tight coverage on some plays, but giving up big gains due to poor tackling on others. He also dropped a chance to win the game in the dying seconds when he couldn’t haul in a lame-duck from David Garrard.

The Colts’ defensive line, which looked like world beaters against the Giants, has steadily faded since that Week 2 win. Once again, they were unable to generate any pressure with their front four, which “forced” defensive coordinator Larry Coyer to dial up more blitzes. More often than not, those blitzes only led to completions for the Jaguars.

If you didn’t see the game, don’t believe box scores. They’ll say that Peyton Manning threw his first interception of the year, but that came courtesy of a Brody Eldridge drop and a great play by Jaguars DB Anthony Smith. Which leads us to…

As with the Houston game, the wide receivers and tight ends let Manning down. Manning threw 13 incompletions, but at least 6 of those were dropped balls that hit the receivers square in the hands. Along with the drops, Reggie Wayne gave up a fumble in the red zone as the veteran made the rookie mistake of reaching the ball out in an attempt to get extra yardage, where it was alertly knocked out by a Jaguars player.

The running game was effective. I was worried about their ability to run against a defense that had two stout defensive tackles, but Joseph Addai was able to pick up the yards when he needed to. The only hope, at this point, is that Addai is not seriously hurt after Mike Pollak fell on his right leg in the second half. Addai returned to the game, but he’s already battling knee injuries, so it will be interesting to see what his practice availability is this week. Addai is quickly establishing himself as irreplaceable due to his shifty running, sure hands, and great blocking.

I felt that the coaching, in general, was lacking. Larry Coyer has clearly never seen the Jaguars play the Colts before, but this was the same game plan they’ve used since 2003, when Del Rio took over. On top of that, Jim Caldwell really took the Jaguars, who appeared content with overtime, off the hook by calling a pointless timeout with under 40 seconds remaining in the game. From there, another defensive breakdown led to the Scobee field goal.

The Colts are 2-2, with their two losses coming in the division. The year they won the Super Bowl, they were 3-3 in the division, losing all three division road games. I suppose it’s nice to keep those things in mind, but like 2006, a lot of things will have to change for this team, on both sides of the ball, if they hope to repeat the success they had that year.

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