The Indianapolis Colts spent the weekend in New York, facing the football Giants in their second pre-season game. It was a 20-12 victory for the Colts and an encouraging display of football for fans and coaches alike. However, it has to be said that this was indeed a pre-season game, and there is only so much to take away from it, if anything. Anyways, let’s check out how the team performed position by position:
Outside of a bobbled interception, which resulted in a circus catch and touchdown for Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck was accurate throughout the day, including a beautiful dagger, on the run, right into Coby Fleener’s hands, which Fleener then dropped. He seemed to thrive with a more versatile offense, mixing in shorter routes with long throws here and there. Minus his ill-advised lob pass resulting in an interception, Matt Hasselbeck showed his veteran savvy throughout the day, while Chandler Harnish had another inaccurate and unproductive outing, and has probably found himself on the chopping block.
T.Y. Hilton hauls in a pass from Andrew Luck (Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Vick Ballard was running like the relentless player he’s proven himself to be. On the other hand, Donald Brown simply ran straight hoping for daylight as well as falling to the ground at the first sign of contact, and continues to be a disappointment, which is the player he’s proven himself to be. Whereas, Kerwynn Williams showed nice agility, a strong base and seems to have the potential to be a viable running back in the league, despite his porous stats, which was more the cause of a lackluster offensive line. And, poor Delone Carter, saw a sea of blue every time he received a handoff, getting no help from his offensive line and, as a result, not getting a real fair chance to showcase his talents.
Darrius Heyward-Bey was the receiving leader for the night with 4 catches and 42 yards, he really showcased his talents on the field and looked a lot more confident. Reggie Wayne was his usual self, making one handed catches for his own amusement and pulling off circus catches like it’s nothing, this man is an artist and a privilege to watch. And don’t forget T.Y. Hilton, showing that he has the hands to be a more reliable receiver this year than last, by making a catch in the wake of a defender downfield, and, also, in the corner of the end zone while keeping his feet in bounds. Other than that, LaVon Brazill is the clear front runner for the fourth receiver spot, especially since the rest of the pack simply looks like a gang of nobodies at this point.
I shouldn’t acknowledge the existence of this unit on paper, in order to symbolize the fact that they appear non-existent on the field. Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn are just awful (why was A.Q. Shipley traded again?), while Anthony Castonzo, Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus are still working on chemistry but playing decently enough. And the second and third units are just embarrassing to even discuss. Only reason this unit doesn’t get a pure F is cause of Castonzo, Thomas and Cherilus doing an adequate job.
I separated the wide receivers and tight ends simply to be able to give Fleener’s performance an F. Justice Cunningham showed he could be a solid third, blocking tight end, but that’s not enough to make up for Fleener’s performance: dropping a pass that was put right in his hands and then getting hurt, again, on a separate occasion. Good thing it’s only the pre-season.
Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean-Francois had solid outings. Jean-Francois showed the ability to shed blockers and looks to be a major upgrade from last year’s endless committee of nobodies. Along with this, Josh Chapman proved he has the skill-set to be an anchor for the defense, taking on two blockers on several occasions. However, someone who really stood out was Drake Nevis. He was wreaking havoc in the backfield, and it showed up on the stat sheet too, finishing the game with two sacks. It was far from a perfect, or even great, performance but a step in the right direction for what was a unit of concern in 2012.
Erik Walden brings down Eli Manning for a sack (Photo credit: Bill Kostroun)
The inside linebackers looked mediocre at best, while the outside linebackers really showcased some solid play on the field: such as Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner and Caesar Rayford. Walden displayed he has tenacity in his tackling, and also, somewhat, the ability to pursue the quarterback, as he recorded a sack with the first unit. Werner really looked good, especially for his first ever professional game. He did an adequate job dropping back into coverage, a notable flaw in his game, while also pursuing the quarterback and setting the edge in the run game. Granted, he didn’t start off doing a phenomenal job sealing off the edge, but Werner finished the game well and ended up with one tackle for loss. Yet, Rayford easily had the best game out of the group. Yes, it’s true he wasn’t playing against the first unit, but he still had an outstanding showing with 2 sacks, combined with several other occasions where he nearly added to that total.
Vontae Davis only gave up a few passes in coverage, one of them being due to a lack of pass rush, but looked fantastic in coverage otherwise. And Greg Toler exhibited his playmaking ability and length with an athletic interception of an Eli Manning pass. Sheldon Price had a nice day after a bad week 1 and, contrary to popular belief; I believe Allen Chapman played well. He did have a pass interference call, but he was in position to make a play and he simply did not turn his head, which resulted in a flag being thrown, but at least he was in the right place. Not turning his head is a mistake that can be easily fixed, especially since Chapman is fresh out of college. The corners get a thumbs up from me, but there is still, clearly, work to be done.
Antoine Bethea does not seem to have shaken off his slump from last season, and is still struggling to get correct angles on approaching ball carriers. He hasn’t looked much better in the passing game either, but that might be because he still isn’t getting much help from the opposite safety position. After a fantastic week 1, Delano Howell really took a step back in game number 2. He was missing tackles and didn’t seem to be a major help in pass coverage. Though, he did do a good job of covering over the top on the Toler interception, it was an overall disappointing performance.
Abysmal returning and not so great return coverage. This special teams is bad outside of its kickers; punter Pat McAfee and kicker Adam Vinatieri, both of whom had another fantastic game. McAfee booted two punts inside the 20 yard line and Vinatieri slammed a 52 yard field goal. Even rookie kicker Brandon McManus got in on the action, with a 50 yard kick that banked off an upright and in. This was a mixed performance from the special teams and therefore, an average grade.
Looking forward to what week 3 of the pre-season brings, but really, let’s get the regular season started already. Go Colts!