While Saturday’s 27-26 loss to the New York Giants (3-0) had plenty to be disappointed about, the Indianapolis Colts (0-2) have several things to build on as they prepare for the regular season.
The finish wasn’t pretty, but, for the most part, the first and second-string units were wonderful on Saturday, stopping Eli Manning and company dead in their tracks. The first-team offense played well and the starting defense played better, forcing Manning to go 1/7 on the day.
With some players continuing to get hot as the season approaches, several players had bad performances in Saturday’s loss as well.
And without further ado, let’s look at this week’s studs and duds for the Colts.
Hakeem Nicks: There was not a better performance on the football field Saturday night than Hakeem Nicks’ performance against his former team. Perhaps it was the jitters of playing against former teammates or the desire to prove his worth, but Nicks quickly came on to the field and immediately impressed. He finished the evening with 53 yards off of five receptions in just one quarter of play. He has shown a developed rapport with Andrew Luck, which is important as the regular season approaches. His higher amount of targets may have been due to Luck’s top targets (Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton) sitting out of the game, but Nicks showed proficiency as the lead receiver. It’s certainly a good sign that he seems to have the ability to rebound in the Colts’ offense.
D’Qwell Jackson: This guy is out there making plays with the first-unit defense. With Jerrell Freeman sitting out, Jackson was the key man in the middle for the defense, and he came through. He finished the game with four tackles in just one quarter of play and added a beautiful sack of Manning to his stat-sheet. Jackson’s most compelling quality is his ability to bottle up the run when given the opportunity to do so. On running downs, he played exclusively behind Josh Chapman, waiting to see what holes the running back would go through as the big man took blockers. He contributed to holding New York running backs Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams to 17 and 19 yards respectively. When Jackson and Freeman hit the field together, the opposing run game will have troubles, something Colts fans are excited to see.
Loucheiz Purifoy: The average Colts fan hasn’t heard this man’s name, but he needs to be on your radar after his performance in Saturday evening’s game. The cornerback was on the roster bubble before the game but may have inked himself a roster spot after some great play. Purifoy made most of his marks on special teams, notching a tackle as well as two exciting punt returns that averaged out to 18 yards a piece. His coverage skills seem to be improving as the preseason progresses and he is outperforming his roster bubble counterparts. On a team that’s looking for young talent in the secondary, Purifoy may be a breath of fresh air as well as a talented special teams contributor.
Chandler Harnish: I’m a big fan of the guy, I really am. However, he played a key role in handing the Giants the keys to victory as he spurred the fourth quarter players into several consecutive three-and-outs. Whether the defenders were playing better or Harnish wasn’t playing well doesn’t matter; at times, he didn’t look like he could throw even close to the guy he wanted. Two of his passes were close to being intercepted and he didn’t have any rapport with the receivers. The passes that he did complete were impressive and often due to some good receiver play, but he didn’t show anything that convinced me that he’s the future at the backup quarterback position once Matt Hasselbeck moves on.
Phillip Tanner: The former Cowboy was brought in to challenge Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton at running back; instead, he posts an atrocious stat-line of -4 yards on five carries with a lost fumble to boot. If he’s trying to stay in the competition and compete for a roster spot, he’s going to need to show more effort than that. The run-blocking wasn’t excellent, but holes were there. He couldn’t take advantage and didn’t show competent field vision.
Coaching Staff: Yes, it is preseason and the Colts’ record is still 0-0. Regardless, even if it is players that will all be cut eventually, giving up 27 points in just 15 minutes of football needs to be blamed on someone. Harnish’s offense didn’t do well and the defense couldn’t stop a thing that Ryan Nassib threw at them. It may be lesser players, but it’s not like the Giants players that lit up the scoreboard are going to be there in a few weeks either. The coaches need to be involved for an entire 60 minutes and not give up when they’ve seen enough. This will be figured out before the regular season, but it’s still tough as a fan to watch a team hand away a preseason victory like that.