Welcome back Colts fans! First off, I’d like to offer my apologies for the hiatus over the past few weeks. I have not forgotten about everyone, simply had a pesky thing known as reality interfering with much more enjoyable activities, like re-watching the Colt games a dozen times! OK, so maybe they weren’t so enjoyable, but that’s beside the point. While the 62-7 loss to the Saints was by no means pretty, its ugliness has allowed many to begin turning the spot light on more obvious deficiencies of the team. In fact, we may see some positive results coming from such a pathetic performance.
Indications are that at least one coach/coordinator will not be surviving this season (if even that long), and the Colts could be facing quite a major upheaval in their plans at one key position (NOT QB). Also, the point total was not the only record set in this game. The Colts offense managed to set a record of its own, albeit a rather dubious one. While the team was not playing well, there were very positive signs from a few players, and in all honesty, for the level of embarrassment that came with this game, the overwhelming majority of players were not so horribly that there results would indicate such a terrible loss. But, we’ll get into that later. For now, let’s get started, as always, with the offense.
*Despite the less than positive performance from Painter, his numbers are worse than his actual play. Painter’s average snap time was a mere 2.07 seconds, which is roughly 2-tenths of a second quicker than normal and in his 17 dropbacks he took a pressure, hit or sack on 9 of those plays. Orlovsky didn’t have things much better with a QB impact on 5 of his 6 dropbacks, but his average snap time was 2.47 seconds, meaning he had significantly more time in the pocket. A quicker release from him would have limited the pressure the D-line got on him. But anyway, back to Painter. Painter had 8 drives spanning 34 plays. He had 17 dropbacks vs. 14 rushing attempts. His 8 drives ended on a botched snap between him, LG Reitz and C Saturday as time was about to expire on the play clock, a dump off pass caused by pressure, a fumble by Carter, a pass that sailed when Painter got hit, a TD, coverage forcing a scramble, a drop by Collie, and an Interception just before he got hit.
While it would have been nice to be in better positions to continue those drives, not much fault can fall on Painter in terms of ‘failing,’ on third downs. He wasn’t spectacular, but given the circumstances, there wasn’t much more he could have done on third downs.
*The one truly bright spot for the game was with the RBs. Despite Addai having to leave after his ankle was unable to stand the strain, both Delone Carter and Donald Brown did a good job of standing up for themselves. Between them they rushed for 137 yards with 121 of those yards coming after a broken or whiffed tackle by the defense. Brown ended the day with 4 broken tackles on 9 rushing attempts, while Carter had 10 on 10 attempts. Carter’s day alone boosted his season averages up to 4.0 yards per carry, and showed that Carter can be a Maurice Jones Drew type back. In the bleakness of the game, the rushing offense was very good. The only negative thing I can say is that neither Brown nor Carter are looking overly great in pass protection. Carter had 2 hits allowed, while Brown gave up a sack and a hit. The major difference between them tends to be Brown still misses blocks and chips while Carter tends to just be bowled over on his blocks.
*The Receivers and Tight ends did not have a horrible day, as there were only 2 drops during the game. Problem is that either the play calling was poor, or the defensive scheme was excellent, because during the course of the game, Painter and Orlovsky had to check down regularly, or throw into tight coverage because their first and second reads were covered very well. For a team that relies upon precision routes as much as the Colts it’s a shame to see so few of the WRs getting open still, Collie in particular. He now has at least 7 drops on the season and is sitting well below 50% completions.
* The offensive line was honestly not that bad in 4 of the 5 positions. Joe Reitz continued his exemplary season with yet another high quality game. Jeff Linkenbach and Quinn Ojinnaka also stepped up very well, with both averaging over 75% good blocks and below 15% bad blocks. These numbers are significant because with the larger number of results from more players, the boundary between a good performance and a bad one for offensive tackles is approaching a 75/15 game.
Jeff Saturday was slightly off, posting a 72.3/19.1 game, which represents nearly double the percentage of negative blocks as we’ve seen from him in the past. These numbers are slightly skewed, though, due to the small number of snaps. While overall Saturday’s numbers are down from last year, they are only slightly so. As of right now, Saturday is sitting at 4th in terms of seasonal blocking statistics behind Joe Reitz at LG, Jeff Linkenbach at LT, and Quinn Ojinnaka at RT.
The final member of the offensive line earns something on the other end of praise. For those who have read my analysis of the offensive line, you will know that I’m not a fan of Mike Pollak. His results have been poor at best, especially for someone considered a stud Center/Guard coming out of College. This game was no different. In fact, it actually set a record. Mike Pollak had the worst game of any offensive lineman I’ve reviewed in the past two years at any position. He didn’t wrack up a large number of pressures/hits, but his final result of 46.2/35.9 rated as the single worst result, and for it to be gained at guard is even more astonishing. With all the chance of getting assists from the Center for a Guard to tank that badly is unforgivable.
But the one thing that makes Mike Pollak’s performance all that much worse is he exemplified the “quitting,” during the game that the team supposedly didn’t succumb to, if Mr. Polian is to be believed. Mike Pollak quit. Above any other visible player on the field, he stopped trying. He was eventually pulled with a hamstring injury, but he wasn’t limping on the field, and his lack of effort has numerous examples when he was healthy. When Curtis Painter got hit and aired the ball out for an INT, Pollak had position to make a tackle, and simply couldn’t be bothered to tackle the ball carrier. Last week when Clark fumbled, Pollak was the closest lineman and stood there watching while Joe Reitz and Jeff Saturday sprinted across the field to tackle the player who recovered the fumble. His results were unacceptable, but his lack of effort is inexcusable.
* The Defensive Line is obviously suffering. The Saints offensive line was much lambasted early in the season, but shut down a pair of Pro Bowl Defensive Ends. In fact, the interior of the defensive line was able to apply more pressure than Freeney and Mathis combined. While Mathis and Freeney tallied 6 pressures between them, the Defensive Tackles were able to total 8. “Luckily” both Tyler Brayton and Jamaal Anderson were able to record a sack each, with Anderson also recording a hit. Still, for such a high snap count, having 2 sacks, 1 hit, and 16 pressures on 30+ dropbacks is poor at best. The best performance though would have to go to DT Fili Moala who was able to score 2 Assists, 3 Tackles, and 4 Pressures in his game. He was by far the member of the defensive line who contributed the most in the game.
* In all honesty, the Linebackers were a slight disappointment. Their coverage was abused, especially their inability to pick up on zone assignments, and aside from one linebacker, they all had a rather quiet day in terms of production/impact. Pat Angerer was on the field for 72 snaps (missing the final 5 with a knee injury), yet put up only 7 Assists, and 1 Tackle with a missed and broken tackle in addition. While 8 total tackles is not bad by any means, it is a rather pedestrian for what has become expected of Pat Angerer. Kavell Conner was slightly better with 3 Assists and 3 Tackles on 48 snaps with 1 missed and 1 broken tackle. Still, for a guy who has been getting so much play as being a future long term Colt LB, his numbers were pedestrian. The one LB who did not miss any tackles, and was second in total tackles for the game was Phillip Wheeler. He totaled 15 total tackles (5 Assists, 10 Tackles) in just 53 snaps. Considering that both Angerer’s and Conner’s career games earlier in the year required both to play for 70+ snaps to rack up their 18 and 22 total tackles, Wheeler’s results actually end up being as good or better on a per snap basis. And in addition, Wheeler did not have a negative tackle to his credit in the game. While the defense was largely ineffective, Phillip Wheeler did stand out as one of the bright spots.
*The secondary received quite a serious amount of blame for being picked apart by Brees, and while most realized Jacob Lacey didn’t see the field at any point during the game, I was still surprised to hear him getting blame for the mess against New Orleans. Well, he didn’t get any snaps, so that is a bogus complaint. The guys who did see the field, though, were not much better. Kevin Thomas saw his first action of the season and proceeded to record 4 Assists and 4 Tackles while also picking up a pair of missed tackles and a broken tackle. This keeps with indications in Training Camp that Thomas was struggling tackling consistently. Terrence Johnson switched with Jerraud Powers to play nickel back this game, and again was very inconsistent, recording 4 tackles, 1 Assist, 1 missed tackle, and 1 broken tackle in 29 snaps. Powers was very consistent on the other hand. Unlike normal, he didn’t have any negative tackles, while being an active member in run and pass defense. Powers ended the game with 10 total tackles (4 Assists, 6 Tackles).
As for the Safeties, Antoine Bethea lead the team in total tackles with 16, but played 72 snaps, and also had 2 very nasty, noticeable broken tackles. The first one also got a facemask penalty called upon him, and the second one allowed yet another TD. Bethea’s partners in crime were not horrible though. Caldwell was on the field for 50 snaps, yet was generally quiet finishing the game with 2 Assists and 2 Tackles with 1 Broken Tackle, and 1 PD. Joe Lefeged ended up having a rather competent game contributing 2 Assists and 5 Tackles with 1 Broken Tackle in only 32 snaps. Lefeged was also not picked on the in the secondary like Bethea and Caldwell were.