The Colts Re-Watch: Preseason Week 4 @ Bengals
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.
The Colts wrapped up their preseason slate on Thursday with a 13-10 defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals, finishing 2-2 on the preseason. Though a low-scoring affair, the Colts' J.V. unit, led by quarterback Stephen Morris, turned into the cardiac kids yet again, pulling off the go-ahead touchdown with 45 seconds left.
- After shaky starts basically all preseason, QB2 Scott Tolzien got off to a much more efficient start on Thursday. Overall, he went 11-for-12 passing, completing his first four passes for 38 yards before his first incompletion. Considering the heat that Morris has put on him all preseason, it was good for Tolzien to come out and have his own impressive showing.
- Morris has been the magic man for the Colts. Aside from finishing second in the league in preseason passing yards (531) and touchdowns (4), Thursday's fourth quarter, game-winning drive was the sixth fourth-quarter scoring drive that he has led, and it was the second fourth-quarter comeback win that he has orchestrated. He did make a bad decision at the end of the first half, forcing a ball up the seam into the end zone to Chase Coffman and getting intercepted. However, he continued to show poise, delivering passes with blitzers flying at him and getting rid of the ball when he needed to. I would be very surprised if the Colts are able to sneak him onto the practice squad.
- Backup running backs Robert Turbin and Stevan Ridley both still look capable of playing behind an actual first-team offensive line in the regular season. Both had mistakes; Turbin lost a fumble and Ridley dropped a screen pass that may have been a touchdown. However, they both were effective otherwise when opportunities arose. Josh Ferguson and Jordan Todman also got into the mix. Ferguson mostly through the air, catching 5 passes for 33 yards, and Todman all around, getting six offenses touches for 37 yards and then returning a kickoff 39 yards.
- Rookie undrafted receivers Chester Rogers and Tevaun Smith both put a bow nicely on their first preseasons. Rogers was the Colts' leading receiver with 7 catches for 80 yards, and Smith with 4 catches for 39 yards including the game-winning, 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
- After a lifelong basketball career and never playing organized football before 2014, TE3 Erik Swoope has actually looked the part of a tight end this preseason, and he had his most productive game yet on Thursday with 5 catches (on 5 targets) for 47 yards. He looks way more natural playing football now than the awkwardness that he used to display. Not only does he have sure hands, but his blocking hasn't been all that bad either. Fellow tight end Chase Coffman was also very dependable all preseason, catching 8 passes for 85 yards, many of them for first downs.
- Adam Redmond and Austin Blythe both did a tremendous job of getting downfield on the Colts' go-ahead touchdown. And though that was the highlight of the game, both players played the entire game and did a pretty good job. Jeremy Vujnovich has also been an unsung hero all preseason at tackle with Kevin Graf going down with an ankle injury. Rookie Le’Raven Clark also played quite a bit, and though he played a little better this week against lesser competition, he still has a lot of progressing to make. Let’s pray that Andrew Luck doesn’t have to depend on his protection at any point this year.
- T.Y. McGill has been an absolute animal. He was only credited with 1 tackle on Thursday, but there were multiple plays where he got into the backfield and changed the running back's direction, pretty much killing the play without making the tackle. Plus, there was the play where he knocked the wind out of Bengals quarterback Keith Wenning.
- Antonio Morrison has not only proven that he belongs on the roster, but he has also made his case for getting actual playing time in the regular season. He plays angry and with serious attitude. Exactly what the Colts said they thought they were getting in him is what he has delivered so far. He also led the team in tackles during the preseason with 21.
- Young edge defenders Earl Okine, Trevor Bates and Curt Maggitt have all relatively proven their worth this preseason, especially Maggitt and Okine. They are able to sift through traffic and make plays, while currently Bates is more of a guy that has to win off of the edge. That said, Bates did put some pressure on the quarterbacks on Thursday. He also played some inside linebacker, which was a new development. Okine has been the Colts' most consistent pass rusher in the preseason, and Maggitt is a max-effort guy who plays to the whistle. If you’ve ever heard the cliché “he plays like his hair is on fire”, Maggitt embodies that pretty well.
- Tevin Mitchel missed his rookie year last season after a torn labrum put him on Injured Reserve. He was a player to watch in camp this year, but he dealt with hamstring issues off-and-on much of the time. He finally got healthy enough to play this week, but he left the game yet again with a hamstring issue. Though the coaches are enthralled with him, it was be hard to imagine him making the 53-man roster at this point.
- A lack of successful pass coverage has been a huge theme all preseason, but it was much better against the Bengals. The Colts held the Bengals to 53% completions and a combined 72.1 passer rating. Receivers may have racked up yardage, but much of it was after the catch. Poor tackling was not cleaned up this week. That showed in the run defense as well.
- Previously in the preseason, I had called out the Colts' first-team defense for not being physical enough, but the reserves didn't have that problem. The backups put toughness on display again on Thursday, repeatedly roughing the Bengals up. Overall, the team played tough and was very aggressive, even the cornerbacks.
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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