UNDER REVIEW: Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans

Dec 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is tackled by Houston Texans linebacker Joe Mays (53) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Houston 25-3. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in what seems like years, the Indianapolis Colts dominated an opponent. To be fair, that opponent was the Houston Texans, who the Colts defeated 25-3.

The Texans have quite clearly given up on the season, and once the Colts got a slight lead, they gave up on Sunday as well. Houston could have been spotted a couple touchdowns on Sunday and still would have lost. They’re that pathetic right now.

A lot of people in the media have overhyped the play of the Colts on Sunday. I agree it was a good win, and the Texans still have a fair amount of talent (read: JJ Watt and Andre Johnson). It would have been more troubling if this had been a close game where the Colts couldn’t get separation against a bad opponent.

Let’s get one thing straight: Trent Richardson did NOT have a great game. He finished the day with a 3.4 average. Donald Brown? He was averaging 7.6 before getting hurt. Richardson’s big 22-yard run was an aberration. A blip on an uneventful day. Take away that run, and you get an average of 2.3 yards per carry. Yes, he was more productive than he has been all season, but the stories from Bob Kravitz (who went over the top twice), Mike Chappell and ESPN’s Mike Wells are way overblown.

Did the Colts use Richardson better? Of course. But its clear right now that Brown is the better runner, but has spent his career battling injuries that hold him back. The Colts offensive line continues to create holes that Richardson simply doesn’t have the vision or speed to hit. He is constantly missing opportunities for big yardage.

Let’s put Richardson’s day in context. He had a few big plays, against a 2-11 opponent (which has clearly given up on the season), and with a 22-point lead. The Colts could have gone three-and-out every drive in the second half and the Texans still wouldn’t have won.

Pro Football Focus gave Richardson a grade of 0.3, slightly above average. Where did he struggle? Well, he was -1.1 running the ball. He was decent in pass protection and when used in the passing attack, but where he is really needed most, on the ground, he’s simply not very good.

My current theory about Richardson is that he was spoiled at Alabama. He didn’t have to make difficult reads or cuts because his NFL-caliber offensive line created gaping holes for him to run through. Richardson generally had to just make linebackers and safeties miss and he had a big gain. That’s not happening in the NFL and he hasn’t done much to adjust for how much faster play is in the pros.

Here are somethings that stood out:

  • Shut Down. The Colts managed to lock down Johnson and Watt on Sunday. Easily the Texans two best players. Johnson clearly had an off day and dropped a number of easy passes. Vontae Davis did a nice job covering him, but he was helped by Johnson’s bad day. As for Watt, he had his second worst game of the season. He accounted for one QB hit and another hurry. He had just five tackles (and only one by himself), and was below average when it came to rushing the passer. He was double teamed a lot on the line, but it really looks like he had a bad day.
  • Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rogers. With LaVon Brazill out, Whalen took snaps and made the most of his time on the field. Whalen was on the field for 36 plays (Darrius Heyward-Bey for just 13) and finished with four catches 45 yards and a touchdown. Rogers struggled in the passing game just a week after getting his first NFL touchdowns. Andrew Luck‘s first TD and interception came on plays to Whalen and Rogers, respectively. They both ran the same route, but can you guess who ran it better? Rogers just isn’t as crisp on his cuts as Whalen, and it didn’t fool the defender who jumped the route and stole a Colts touchdown.
  • Robert Mathis is unreal. He set a franchise record for most sacks in a season and career in a Colts uniform on Sunday. The fact that he forced a fumble on the record breaker is all the more fitting. The resulting safety simply put an exclamation point on the whole thing. At this point, Mathis is the entirety of the Colts pass rush with the next best players at 3.5 sacks (Jerrell Freeman and Cory Redding). At this point in the season, its asking too much to expect someone else to pick up the slack, so lets just hope Mathis has a lot left in the tank.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game. The Texans are done this year, and have been for a few weeks now. The Colts simply handled their business and kept Houston winless in Indianapolis.

Up next, the Colts will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs. There is a good chance that this will be a preview of the Wild Card playoff matchup. This would be a big upset to pull off on the road (hint: shut down Jamaal Charles).

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Topics: Indianapolis Colts, Trent Richardson

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