This was a game that the Colts almost HAD to win. In the next five weeks, the Colts three playoff teams (at San Francisco, Seattle, Denver) and are on the road for the other two (at Jacksonville and San Diego). It is not an easy stretch and the team has some identity issues.
Lets get one thing straight, the Dolphins are not that great a team. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is very average and Miami’s defense is so-so. The Colts should have won this game, and had two chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Both attempts were essentially foiled by the officials.
The problem was that when the team puts forth a mediocre effort and has to jump a hurdle, like say the officiating, there is little chance of winning.
Here are our thoughts from the game:
- Andrew Luck was off on Sunday. Luck made a lot of rookie mistakes and was very inaccurate with his passes. He also seemed to be on a different page from his receivers. There were also a few times where Luck could have run for a first down, but didn’t. This is where the coaches need to let him run. No one wants Luck to get hurt, but he knows when to slide and when to get out of bounds. He’s not going to RG3-it trying to do to much and get hurt (he also doesn’t have a coach who puts him in constant peril with the read option). Luck had a bad game yesterday, it happens (even to Peyton), but that was a bad one to phone in.
- What is the identity of the offense? I understand what Pep Hamilton is trying to do. But Hamilton needs to learn to be flexible with his game plan. He has his idea of how the game should go, and after making adjustments will revert back to the game plan on a new drive. Like each drive is hitting a reset button on the game. That can work in college, especially against inferior opponent (he is still thinking like a college coach). His schemes are good, as evidenced by the Colts ability to move the ball, but he needs to exploit the faults of the defenses better.
- Why don’t the Colts push the lead? The Colts coaching staff seems to believe that any lead is enough to win a game. It could be one point, and they seem to revert to a safe offense. This was evidenced in the third quarter when the Colts had a three point lead. Indy opens with a pass to FB Stanley Havili for seven yards, not a bad play, but they use the fullback way, way too much. The only wide receiver on the field during this series is Wayne, and he doesn’t even get a look. It was a series that failed in too many ways, and was far too conservative.
- The defense was up and down. Generating five sacks is nice, but the pass rush was maddeningly inconsistent. At least two of the sacks were the result of good downfield coverage as opposed to anything the rushers did. The Colts have been forced to blitz a lot, but they don’t quite have the secondary for man-to-man coverage all the time. It is leading to a lot of big conversions by opponents since the Colts can’t generate a consistent pass rush. I’m not sold on the front seven being the right guys for the job. Robert Mathis and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin are the only players to receiver positive grades yesterday in that group. This defense is eventually going to be the downfall of the Colts, and it will start next week in San Francisco.
- The officiating were atrocious. I will say this for the millionth time, I don’t like tearing into the officials. They should be invisible during a game, but not like they were on Sunday. I’m surprised none of them choked after swallowing their whistles. In week one, the Dolphins were flagged 10 times (and averaged five per game in 2012) and on Sunday they weren’t penalized once. That rarely happens, and Sunday they should have been hit about six times minimum. There are a few plays I’d like to highlight:
- The illegal shift. Wayne lines up on the right side of the line, then is set in motion to the left side. The play is run and its a touchdown to tight end Coby Fleener. The whole play is called back because Wayne wasn’t set for long enough before the ball is snapped. Watching every other play where a man is in motion during that game (and a whole lot more football), I have no idea what the refs saw on this play. It robbed the Colts of four points in what turned out to be a four point game.
- Luck’s interception to Wayne. Wayne is covered by Grimes on a deep route, who grabs Wayne about the hips and redirects him thus moving to the inside position. Luck throws the ball just as Grimes is redirecting Wayne. Its obvious pass interference and it goes uncalled for some reason.
- The final drive. Wide receiver Griff Whalen is literally held on an entire passing route but it goes uncalled. It was 3rd-and-10, Luck looks that way and the pass is of course incomplete. Whalen had a defender practically taking a piggy back ride on the play. How does that not get called?
The season is about to get rough for the Colts. Really rough. This is not a Super Bowl team and in all likelihood, the Colts won’t make the playoffs. I understand that its just two games, but with the personnel on defense and the inflexibility on offense, I don’t see how this team will compete for a Wild Card spot.
Up next is a trip out west to face the 49ers who are fresh off a loss to rival Seattle. After struggling with Terrelle Pryor, I have no idea how the Colts will even attempt to handle Colin Kaepernick.
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