Week 7: Five Reasons Luck Should Pass

Well, you may have guessed it – Wayne, according to Brown's writer Marty Gitlin, is going to be difficult to cover this week. He goes on to write:

Second-year cornerback Buster Skrine will therefore be greatly responsible for Wayne, who is third in the NFL with 593 receiving yards. The aggressive Skrine was burned often early in the season, but played his best game in the win Sunday against Cincinnati. He understands the importance of containing Wayne. No other Indianapolis receiver — even highly touted tight end Coby Fleener — has emerged as a consistent threat. If Skrine can hang with Wayne, the Browns could shut the Colts down.

Again, I really disagree. It's about the front five, and I don't mean the O-Line.

Wayne's stats in Indianapolis's first five games:

Week  Date  Opp Rec  Yds   Avg   TD                  
1  Sep 9  @CHI  9  135   15.0   0                  
2  Sep 16  MIN 6  71   11.8   1                  
3  Sep 23  JAC 8  88   11.0   0                  
5  Oct 7  GB 13  212   16.3   1                  
6  Oct 14  @NYJ 5  87   17.4   0                  

What this tells us: Wayne is pretty consistant, getting between 70-90 yards on an average day, and occasionally lighting up; still, except for his touchdowns (two in wins, none in losses), he's been relatively the same whether the Colts win or lose. Two big games – one loss, one win. The Minnesota, Jacksonville, and New York games are all on the same level in catches and yards. So, when the defining line is how you play in a win vs. a loss, the REAL stats you need to watch out for are …

Andrew Luck's turnover ratio: 2 picks/game in losses, only 1 in two wins.

Donnie Avery's involvement: 6 receptions/game in wins, 3 in losses. 

LeVon Brazill's benchwork: if Brazill gets a reception, the Colts always lose. Fact. Ditto with Kris Adams. Kind of like Mewelde Moore's backwards pedalling. Moore, in four games with the Colts, has run for negative yardage once: against Minnesota. The other three games were all losses. So if Brazill and Adams are benched and Moore takes a knee, will the Colts have a better chance?

Obviously not, but it does raise an interesting trend. See, in every Colts loss, a lot of bottom-level guys have random catches, yards, and touches. In wins, the only five receivers the Colts have needed are Wayne, Avery, Allen, Fleener, and Hilton. Fact: in any game that another receiver gets the ball, the Colts have lost. Their only wins this year have come when those five receivers, and only those five, get receptions (running backs excluded).

It might mean losing some depth, but if I were Arians, I'd try going with a more straightforward game plan this week. Put the ball in the hands of your best wideouts; don't spread the ball around. When Luck tries to feed the ball to Kris Adams and LaVon Brazill instead of Donnie Avery, he gets picked off. Their wins could have easily been losses, the Jacksonville game could have easily been a win, but when it comes down to the little things, you sometimes have to go with it.