Colts Individual and Team Observations from Preseason Week 1

Photo courtesy of colts.com
Photo courtesy of colts.com

From Indy Sports Report (www.indysportsreport.com), posted August 13, 2013

Now that I have had a chance to really study Sunday’s preseason matchup, I found plenty of positive and negative things for the Colts.  A 24-point loss at home really stings, but it is nothing fans need to worry about going into the regular season.  The Colts, like the other 31 teams in the league, all have things they excel at and things they need to improve on before the games matter.  That being said, here are my main observations of individual players and the team as a whole.

INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Andrew Luck – Although he only played two series, I noticed that Andrew Luck seemed to hurry some of his passes.  This may have also been due to pressure from the defense, but overall there were some off-targets throws that he seemed to hurry.
  • Matt Hasselbeck – I thought backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did a nice job.  I wouldn’t have considered his roster spot in jeopardy, but his performance has been receiving mixed reviews in training camp thus far.  It was good to see him go out there and perform pretty well.  He would have had two touchdown passes instead of just one if it weren’t for Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso breaking up a Coby Fleener catch in the end zone.
  • Chandler Harnish – Chandler Harnish had a rough day at the office on Sunday.  He kept some plays alive with his feet and also made some nice throws that were dropped by receivers.  However, several of his intermediate and deep throws were very off-target.  I do like how much power he can get behind his passes with such ease, though.  The lack of chemistry in the third unit of offense is pretty evident at the moment.
  • Donald Brown – I respect what Donald Brown is doing right now.  He is the former top dog in what is now a crowded backfield.  Instead of conceding to being the forgotten man, he is pulling it together and showing his worth elsewhere on the field.  I noticed him in training camp and in the Bills game standing out on special teams coverage.  He also did a nice job with his running lanes in the limited offensive action he saw Sunday.
  • Kerwynn Williams – I’ve got mixed reviews on Kerwynn Williams from Week 1.  He had a decent first kickoff return, but not so much on the second and third (he bobbled the third.)  I thought he ran the ball well on offense, but where is the quickness he is known for?  I was expecting to see a bunch of shiftiness and quick cuts, but I really didn’t see it on any more than just one run.  However, I loved his hustle on kickoff coverage to save Marquise Goodwin’s 50-plus yard kick return from becoming a touchdown.  Special teams is where late-round draft picks and undrafted guys will really prove themselves.
  • Stanley Havili – I did not notice much out of Stanley Havili Sunday, but I like that he’s there.
  • T.Y. Hilton – Does T.Y. Hilton look like one of the biggest steals of the 2012 NFL Draft or what?
  • Griff Whalen – It wasn’t big productivity, but I liked what I saw from Griff Whalen.  He did have a nice catch in traffic from Harnish and consistently showed good effort.
  • Jeremy Kelley – I’ve been rooting for the guy since mini camps started.  It was unfortunate that really his only look he got was a dropped pass on the sideline.  There was good coverage, but he should have pulled it in.
  • Jabin Sambrano and Lanear Sampson – These guys have not been showing a whole lot lately.  Sampson had a drop on his unit’s first third down of the game and gave up on an interception return for a touchdown late in the game.
  • Coby Fleener – I am not as discouraged as some others about Fleener’s performance Sunday.  There is no excuse for the fumble and the dropped touchdown catch, however, I get it.  He took a big sandwiched hit on his fumble and the defender stripped the ball from his hands on the would-be touchdown.  No big deal right now in the preseason, but he has to clean it up a bit.
  • Justice Cunningham – Mr. Irrelevant continues to impress me.  I noticed a NICE block from him as the fullback in a play from the I-formation, as well as his continued ability to make tough catches.  Barring some sort of meltdown, I don’t think there is any way he doesn’t make it as the 3rd tight end.
  • Dominique Jones – The player battling with Cunningham, Dominique Jones, also had a decent game.  To me, he did his job but was not able to do much with his receptions, as they were often short routes with a defender already close by.  However, he had a great catch in traffic on a Chandler Harnish rollout.
  • Joe Reitz – Joe Reitz really needs to clean it up after that game.  He is great to have around for depth, as he is very versatile.  However, he did make some mental mistakes.  He practically made the tackle on Griff Whalen on Whalen’s first catch on a flare route.  He was trying to block the defender that was closing in on Whalen, but he ended up blasting the defender into Whalen and all three hit the ground.  He also had a holding call late in 2nd quarter.
  • Josh Chapman – Unless I didn’t pay close enough attention, I did not really see much of Josh Chapman until later in the game with the second and third team guys.  Where was he with the main guys?  That’s fine that Aubrayo Franklin got the start, but why don’t I feel like we got to see much or any of Ricky Jean-Francois, Chapman and Cory Redding at once?  Hopefully we will get to see that in Week 2.
  • Lawrence Sidbury and Kelvin Sheppard – I had the same impression of both Lawrence Sidbury and Kelvin Sheppard after the game.  They both were involved in getting to the ball carrier consistently.  I thought they both had decent games for their first action with the team.
  • Justin Hickman – I feel Justin Hickman had a very good game.  It is extremely unfortunate that he now will miss the entire season due to the lis franc foot injury he suffered during the game.  It’s not a huge blow, but enough to be inconvenient.  Hickman got a lot of playing time last season and he knows how to rush the passer.
  • Kavell Conner – Kavell Conner had a great game.  It’s hard to imagine Pat Angerer consistently outperforming him when he gets back.  This is no knock on Angerer; it just says more about Conner.  Conner is a really good fit.
  • Shawn Loiseu – I didn’t notice many players who had completely bad games, but one of the players I did was Shawn Loiseau.  He got easily moved out of his lane on Marquise Goodwin’s kickoff return for the touchdown.  He also had a bad late hit penalty.  He showed up a lot at the ball, but was a nonfactor from what I observed.
  • Caesar Rayford – The massive Caesar Rayford got pretty good pressure on the quarterback and played well on special teams coverage.  He helped provide one of the plays of the game with his forced fumble on a sack of Jeff Tuel.
  • Delano Howell – I really hope Delano Howell wasn’t a one-hit wonder.  This guy was all over the field and packed a punch with every tackle he made.  He even excelled while playing with the first team defense.  He reminded me somewhat of Melvin Bullitt (let’s hope he can stay healthy!)  If he plays like this in the rest of the preseason, it will be tough to make picks between him, Sergio Brown, Joe Lefeged, Daxton Swanson, John Boyett and Ashante Williams come cut time.
  • Marshay Green – Marshay Green showed his tackling ability, but I feel he struggled in coverage
  • Sheldon Price – There wasn’t a ton to go off of with Sheldon Price, but he got absolutely worked on Da’Rick Rogers’ touchdown grab.
  • Daxton Swanson – Daxton Swanson did have the long fumble recovery for a touchdown, but outside of that I noticed he got beat on a deep ball down the right side.  He had tight coverage on the play, but should’ve been able to defend the pass.  He also got beat for a touchdown on a 5-yard slant.

TEAM OBSERVATIONS

  • It did not look like the first team interior offensive line did well on pass protection.  Luck got pressured some more, and I specifically noticed Samson Satele getting beat on a swim move by Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams.  It is starting to get more urgent that injured rookies Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton get healthy and get into practice.
  • I do like how the offense looks.  It is evident that they will need to get better at execution, but I like how the offense was used.  It obviously went much better in the first half among all three quarterbacks, but I think the offense will be efficient this year.
  • Outside of C.J. Spiller’s first two carries, the run defense did pretty well.  Even with Spiller, the Bills only averaged 3.7 yards per carry.  If you take Spiller’s four carries away, then they only averaged 3.1 yards per carry.
  • This may be me making something out of nothing, but why did it seem like no one cared when Justin Hickman got hurt?  You could hear him scream when his foot got rolled up, then when the play ended and he was still on the ground (with no teammates even coming near him), the training staff finally came out.  Only then did any of his teammates come over to check on him.  If I am wrong, then my apologies, but that is exactly what it looked like to me on TV.
  • Hopefully it gets cleaned up, but the team overall seemed undisciplined with penalties.  It is going to happen when you have a 90-man roster and it’s the preseason, but there were some bonehead penalties out there.  I won’t worry about it as much once the regular season comes around and the main guys are playing.
  • It appeared that there was absolutely zero blocking on kick returns.
  • I noticed that the third and second team defense has some good tacklers, but they did not play well as total units.
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