Originally posted on The Colts Authority  |  Last updated 8/12/12

The Colts New Era began just like the Old Era. On the Colts first offensive snap of the game, rookie QB Andrew Luck matched the performance of his predecessor, Peyton Manning, by completing his first NFL pass for a touchdown. The touchdown came on a well-executed screen play to oft-maligned RB Donald Brown. Brown, displaying the speed Colts fans had been hoping to see since he was drafted, took the pass 63 yards for the score.

In just 12 seconds, #12 turned to a Colts fan base who had endured an offseason of pain and uncertainty and said to them, "it's going to be okay."

 

While we must temper our excitement by remember that today's performance came during the preseason against one of, if not the worst, team in the entire NFL, no one would look at Luck's play (10-16, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 142.7 QBR) and not believe that he will be a successful NFL quarterback. He played with a calmness and awareness you don't often find in season vets, let alone rookies. His throws were crisp and on the money, and he never once seemed overwhelmed. Barring injuries, the Colts seem set at the most important position in football.

Of course, it wasn't all good news. Not to be lost in the euphoria caused by Luck's great start is the reality that this Colts team has a lot of issues to deal with over the next 12 months. The biggest issue is clearly fixing an offensive line which looks destined to push Luck's mobility to its limits throughout the season. The line struggled constantly in both run- and pass-blocking, and looks to be the biggest source of any inconsistencies the Colts may experience on that side of the ball. If the Colts OL can find it in them to be even remotely average this season, there is nothing stopping the Colts offense from developing into the type of dynamic, dangerous offense we've come to expect from the Colts.

The other issue facing Grigson and Pagano is the defense. The Colts showcased their 3-4 defense for a majority of the game, but they were unable to leave behind the poor gap control and huge CB cushions that we've come to know under the old 4-3 cover-2 system. A legitimate starting cornerback and a top-notch safety to pair with CB Powers and S Bethea are big needs. The Colts are also dangerously thin at LB and DL, and will surely look be looking for more 3-4-oriented players to fill those positions next off-season.

 

Quick thoughts, the good:

- Donald Brown showing what he can do with a little time and space. He may not get much of that with this offensive line, but I get the feeling he'll make the most of his chances.

- Jerry Hughes with two sacks: just the preseason, but hopefully this is the boost he needed to take the next step. No excuses left for Hughes, he's playing in a system more suited to his talents and he's going to get more chances than he's previously had to show the world he's an NFL player.

- The Lounge Singer (Vick Ballard... come on, his name sounds like he should be singing in Vegas in the 60s) showed nice burst and vision. He won't start over Donald Brown this year, but he seems to have the tools required to develop into a viable NFL running back.

- TY Hilton and LeVon Brazil both made some nice catches. With WR Donnie Avery sidelined with an injury, there is a window for the young WRs to step up and showcase their ability, and both seem to be taking advantage of that.

- LBs Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman (who stepped up in Angerer's absence) both made some nice plays. It remains to be seen whether or the Colts LBers are suited for the 3-4, and I expect a lot of struggles from the LB group in general as the season progresses, but they have talent and can hopefully develop some consistency as they adapt to the new scheme.

- The Colts got a preseason win. It means nothing in the big picture, but you get the feeling that for this front office, for these players, for this fan base, it was a necessary moment. They had been waiting to exhale. Now to do it all over again, for real this time, against the Bears.

Quick thoughts, the bad:

- We already mentioned the OL, but let's mention it again. The OL was bad in every facet of the game. We'll never know how good Ben Ijalana would have been, but it feels safe to say that, at some point this season, he would have been a significant upgrade at either G or RT.

- Drops. The Colts WRs did Luck no favor, with drops accounting for 50% (3 of 6) of Luck's incompletions. With the OL being so bad, the Colts will have to take advatnage of every opportunity, which means they can't drop perfect passes from their QB.

- Injuries? LB Pat Angerer left the game early in the 1st quarter with a foot injury and was later seen on the Colts sideline in a walking boot. The Colts are already thin at LB, and while Angerer is not your prototypical 3-4 LBer, he's your prototypical football player. He can tackle, he can cover, he can get over the quarterback. If this version of the Colts defense is going to find any success this year, Pat Angerer is going to have to be a big piece of the puzzle. Hopefully the injury is not serious.

Quick thoughts, The Beautiful.

- Andrew Luck. This man sold a lot of season tickets today. Jim Irsay and the Colts couldn't have asked for a better start. Even the most hardened Colts fans had to crack a slight smile at Luck's stellar start. The Colts may not make the playoffs this year, they may not even win more than a handful of games, but it won't be because of inept play from the quarterback. The kid is the real deal, from brain, to demeanor, to mechanics. Now the Colts have to work on surrounding him with the talent that he needs in order to win the most important games.

And at that point, the New Era and Old Era will have a lot more in common than the start.

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