The Colts Re-Watch: Preseason Week 1 @ Bills
Each week, I will head back to the computer to re-watch the Indianapolis Colts’ previous game – sometimes multiple times – to help pick up on some things I might have missed the first go-around while watching live.
On paper, the Colts’ preseason opener in Buffalo started as a lethargic, sloppy-looking snooze fest before they found life late in the first half. But there was still plenty to see between the lines while both they and the Bill struggled to move the ball. Let’s dig into the notes for preseason Week 1.
- Rain definitely affected the passing game early on for both teams. Sloppy passes were thrown and balls were dropped until things started to clear up in the second quarter.
- Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski seems to be mixing in more bootlegs, which will help Andrew Luck and the other quarterbacks escape pressure and allow plays to develop downfield. With speedy receivers like TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, giving routes time to open up will be huge.
- Luck did not play, so it was up to Scott Tolzien to lead the first-team offense. He struggled with his accuracy, but it could’ve been worse. He would get balls into the vicinity of the receiver, but he did not lead receivers well at all. He appeared to target the actual receiver more than the receiver’s intended destination. In the second quarter, Tolzien settled in and did a better job of moving the offense down the field, leading two scoring drives to close out the first half.
- Stephen Morris quarterbacked the second half and probably surprised some people with his effectiveness given how little he was on display in training camp. He too struggled with accuracy occasionally, but made good decisions when it came to running out of the pocket. He also orchestrated two of his own scoring drives, one being the game-winning drive with 1:08 left in the game.
- Frank Gore also did not play, so rookie Josh Ferguson started in his place. Though Robert Turbin is listed as the RB2 on the depth chart, Ferguson is more explosive and has a higher ceiling. When holes were there, he did hit them well, but they were few and far between. Though Ferguson’s pass protection looked respectable in camp, he missed an assignment in the first quarter, which led to Tolzien getting pressured and failing to complete the pass. Turbin relieved him on the next play.
- The screen pass could prove to be a very beneficial tool for the Colts this year, especially with Gore’s patience and vision to go along with Ferguson’s speed and elusiveness. Jordan Todman scored on a beautifully executed 42-yarder in the second quarter, and Turbin had one in the third that went for 15 yards on 3rd-and-19.
- Trey Williams showed some really tough running. He kept his feet moving and did his best not to let plays die. Most of his runs had to have resulted in at least one or two broken tackles each.
- Overall, the running game didn’t get going – the three backs combined for 10 yards on 19 carries – but is it expected to when you have different pieces coming in and out constantly? The starting unit didn’t do a great job, but they did open up some holes that, as previously mentioned, Ferguson was able to get to.
- The Colts started what many expect to be their regular season starting lineup on the offensive line of: LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Jack Mewhort, C-Ryan Kelly, RG-Denzelle Good, RT-Joe Reitz.
- Tevaun Smith had a bad drop on 3rd-and-3, and Josh Boyce with another on the next drive on 3rd-and-7. But both bounced back nicely afterward – Smith finishing with 3 catches for 34 yards, and Boyce with 2 for 16 yards.
- Fellow depth receiver Chester Rogers made a great play when he caught a ball 13 yards downfield outside the right hash, spun out of the cornerback’s grasp and ran the remainder of the field into the end zone. It put the Colts up 15-12, and they would not relinquish the lead.
- It’s clear that the coaches want to see what they’ve got in rookie Joe Haeg. He seems like the lineman they’re most intrigued by of their whole group, as he shuffled around the lineup a bit and settled in at left tackle. Jonotthan Harrison and rookie Austin Blythe also moved around between guard and center. All three held their own, though it is better for Harrison to stick to guard. Still, versatility is how you stick to this roster.
- Defensive linemen TY McGill and Zach Kerr were very active in clogging up running lanes at the line of scrimmage, as well as getting into backfield. So far, the Colts have found a great way to substitute for when Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford are out.
- The defense didn’t get a whole lot from Hassan Ridgeway, but that might have been a different story had he been more aggressive. There seemed to be some potential plays left on the field, he just wasn’t playing violently enough.
- Trent Cole had a couple of really nice pressures, one on the very first play. He bull-rushed Jordan Mills back into quarterback Tyrod Taylor, knocking him down after the pass. Cole then had a nice rip-swim move against Cyrus Kouandjio a couple of drives later and got in EJ Manuel’s face as he threw.
- The edge combo of Trevor Bates/Earl Okine was very productive and disruptive. They were consistently bending the edges and getting pressure on the quarterback. Josh McNary executed a sack while being unblocked at one point, but Bates had completely boxed up Manuel’s left side. Manuel looked to escape there, but couldn’t, directly leading to the sack. Okine had a sack of his own, setting the left tackle up with his spin move and getting to quarterback Cardale Jones seamlessly.
- Curt Maggitt was also able to make some noise on the field after missing abig chunk of camp with an ankle injury. What stuck out most is how aggressive he was and how he fights for each play. Ron Thompson was also in the mix, but he just played way too slow. Unrelated to speed, but on one play he completely slid right off of Jones. If he would’ve actually tried to sack him, he would’ve.
- New starting cornerback Patrick Robinson got burned downfield at one point. Was just plain beaten by Marquise Goodwin’s speed. The ball was overthrown, so the play didn’t bear any consequences.
- On one play, rookie safety T.J. Green showed great speed and coverage on an attempted 30-yd post-corner in the end zone. The ball was overthrown, but Green put himself in a position to break it up if it would’ve been a better-thrown pass. On the same play, Sio Moore had a good side-step pass rush move that got him to the quarterback, but was just slightly too late.
- Darius Butler (while playing safety) gave up a 19-yard touchdown, allowing the tight end to get behind him after the play action.
- Dezmen Southward showed good closing ability in a near-interception that was ruled out of bounds but could’ve been called in-bounds.
Jake Arthur is the AFC South Division Manager, Indianapolis Colts Team Manager, Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS on Twitter as well as on Facebook, Google+ and FanCred.
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