Five Observations from Colts vs. Raiders
1. Key Players like T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener not as Involved as First Thought – Judging by the Colts’ offensive approach during the preseason, many thought that we would see a heavy dose of Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. Shoot, I even expected to see more than one reception by Coby Fleener. The words Pep Hamilton had spoken about a dedication to the run game were finally shown Sunday, which led to not seeing as many looks that we had become accustomed to during the preseason. There were several one wide receiver sets, as well as a fullback being featured often which led to fewer looks to multiple tight ends, as well as multiple receiver sets.
It will be interesting to see the Colts’ approach on offense unfold over the next few games. I will be looking to see how many shots the Colts take down the field, but how often they even feature more than two receivers.
2. The Offensive Line, Andrew Luck’s Timing still needs to Improve – Hopefully seeing Andrew Luck throw rockets while being pulled to the ground won’t become such a common sight as it was in 2012. I also hope to see Andrew Luck throw the ball away a bit more rather to just string a play out and get sacked.
To Luck’s credit, he has improved on this from last year, but the cavalier, never-say-die mentality is still there. Evidenced by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, this may be a trait that never dies, but it is something that may need to be controlled. No doubt Luck’s approach has bailed the Colts out before, but it will also serve to take steps back during drives almost as often. No doubt Luck is on his way to being the NFL’s next elite quarterback, but all quarterbacks have their flaws and that just may be one of his.
3. Balance of Pass and Run Game actually Balanced – An extension of observation #1 was the emphasis on a balanced run/pass game. Luck threw the ball or dropped back and was sacked 27 times Sunday. The Colts ran the ball 26 times. Although there were some good plays on the ground, the game plan would have likely been better served with the ball in Luck’s hands. Putting the ball in Luck’s hands means he has more responsibility to control the tone and tempo of the game. The Colts won, but there likely could have been more of a cushion on the score if there was more of a vertical passing game involved.
Not to panic – this was just the first game and I am sure the coaching staff is still trying things out. If Pep Hamilton meant what he said when he said he would adopt some nuances of Bruce Arians’ offense, then we should see the sky light up with Andrew Luck passes frequently.
4. The Linebacking Corps needs to get Healthy Soon – With a handful of running/mobile quarterbacks left on the schedule, injured inside linebackers Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner need to get healthy, and fast. This should not be a worry, as both should be back against Miami in week 2.
However, if Terrelle Pryor had a good game on the ground against the Colts, then what is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers going to do with room to run? Allowing a quarterback to become the league’s leading rusher is something that will get your team crushed each and every time. The Colts were just fortunate this came from the Raiders and not the 49ers or Seahawks.
Photo courtesy of Comcast Sports Net. Cover photo courtesy of Colts Authority.
5. LaRon Landry, Greg Toler Prove to be Steep Upgrades for 2013 Defense – One thing is certain about the Colts defense this year; it has more attitude than in any year I can remember. Two guys who are a huge part of that are LaRon Landry and Greg Toler. Landry is what you would call an “enforcer”, and Toler appears on his way to being added to the “ballhawk” category.
Landry made his presence known by flattening Raiders receiver Jacoby Ford on a quick slant route during the game, and Toler made a leaping interception in the end zone during the first quarter. With these two on board, we may just see their fellow starting defensive backfield mates Vontae Davis and Antoine Bethea flourish, as well.