In a highly touted pre-season match-up between Andrew Luck’s Indianapolis Colts and Robert Griffin III’s Washington Redskins, RG3 and the ‘Skins were the ones who went home happy. The game really didn’t live up to the hype, but as a pre-season game, how could it possibly?
As underwhelming as the game may have been, there are still some things the Colts can take away from the loss.
1. Andrew Luck is officially the Man
This was Andrew Luck’s most impressive performance in the pre-season. Yes, you read that right. I rank this higher than even the Rams game where he shredded the defense. Why? Because the colts offensive line was simply, well, offensive (more on that in a moment). There was almost no single drop back that Luck was not under pressure. The ‘Skins blitzed and blitzed. They got to Luck on more than occasion, either hitting him just after a throw or sacking him. And how did Luck respond? 14 completions on 23 attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown. No real bad throws, no interceptions. He either stepped up into the pocket or rolled out to avoid the pressure and made some extremely nice plays, including the 31 yard touchdown to rookie T.Y. Hilton. Luck will make mistakes, especially if the protection doesn’t improve, but this kid does not get rattled under pressure, and that is huge.
2. The O-Line really blows (right now)
What can I say other than “wow?” And that’s not a good “wow.” More of a “holy crap are they terrible right now” kind of “wow.” Colts GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano have to hope that this game’s performance was the exception and not the rule. If not… well, can anyone say “David Carr?” Everyone knows that winning football teams ALWAYS start with the guys up front. It doesn’t matter if you have Dan Marino throwing the ball to Jerry Rice and handing off to Emmitt Smith if you can’t keep defenders out of your back field. We all know that this was going to be a work in progress. No Jeff Saturday. Ben Ijalana was a bust. And one of our starters is Jeff Linkenbach (who? Exactly.). I haven’t watched a whole lot of other pre-season games, but right now the only offensive line I’ve seen play worse is the Jets O-line.
3. Defensive injuries are a major concern
Pat Angerer. Corey Redding. Brandon McKinnie. What do these guys have in common? All are defensive guys expected to make major contributions and who will miss some or all of the regular season. For those who haven’t kept up on the news, McKinnie tore his ACL last night and will be going on IR. Add that to the fact that the Colts are still trying to perfect their defensive scheme switch, and it could spell trouble for the regular season. The run defense was especially atrocious last night. Washington totaled 147 rushing yards on 27 carries. For those like me who aren’t math majors, that would be an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Yes, that includes the back-ups, but the per carry average was even higher than that when the starters were in.
4. Freeney not looking good in new scheme
Right now I think I’m the only one pointing this out. But Freeney has not looked particularly good in his new OLB position. He has not really put much pressure on the opposing quarterback and there have been several instances where he has blown right past the running back allowing big gains. One of the problems in my humble opinion is that they are really just trying to use him (and Robert Mathis) as another defensive lineman instead of a natural OLB. I’ve already mentioned that the Colts defense on many plays resembles a 5-2 alignment (5 defensive lineman, 2 linebackers) more than a 3-4 (3 defensive linemen, 4 line backers). In this instance, it may be the Freeney’s speed, an asset that has helped him dominate for 10+ years, is now a hindrance. Now, obviously this is way too early to be making such statements definitively. Freeney very well could begin to get the hang of his new position and look like his normal beastly self, especially given that this is a contract year for him.
I won’t be doing a game preview for the last game of pre-season against the Bengals. The starters will play very little, it at all. Most of the guys who play the majority of the game won’t even make the team in all likelihood, so what’s the point? Instead I will work on my NFL and Colts season previews. Keep an eye out.
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