The Colts Re-Watch: Week 3 vs. San Diego Chargers
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.
After struggling to find consistency and wrap up an actual victory through the first two weeks of the year, on Sunday the Indianapolis Colts were finally able to put one in the 'win' column after a 26-22 victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Andrew Luck has taken a lot of flack for his first-half fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Initially, I was griping as well, but when I actually looked into it, the fumble was just as much, if not more, about the defenders than it was Luck. The main issue was the thought that Luck should just go down when he gets hit. That normally is the case because he loves to play hero-ball, but in this instance, he was essentially held up while getting sacked; one defender held him up long enough for the other to strip the ball.
Many defenses are better against the run than San Diego, but it was tremendous to see Frank Gore get involved so effectively, so early. He was having his way with the front seven, cutting through the box consistently. He had about 70 yards rushing in the first half, and the Colts could have easily snapped their 55-plus-game 100-yard-rusher drought, but they ran less in the second half. Gore finished with 82 yards. If I was going to raise an issue with Gore, it would be that he continues to show a knack for dropping passes when he is wide open. He can catch balls one-handed with a defender bearing down on him, but give him 10 yards of space and that puppy's hittin' the ground.
- The Robert Turbin fullback dive from the I-formation strikes again. This time, instead of converting on 3rd-and-short, it was a 1-yard touchdown.
- TY Hilton was outstanding, and it was much-needed with Donte Moncrief out. With 8 catches for 174 yards and 1 touchdown, it was Hilton's biggest outing in the last two years. He had several nimble sideline catches, and he had two other big plays in particular. On 4th-and-7 with under two minutes to go in the game and the Colts down 22-20, Hilton converted for a first down, and then he made the game-winning, 63-yard touchdown catch two plays later.
- Jack Doyle is a real, legitimate weapon for Luck. Aside from his 13 receptions (second on the team), he has continued to be an effective blocker. On Sunday, he had a great block on San Diego inside linebacker Denzel Perryman on Gore's touchdown run. Doyle's got to clean some things up, though. If I recall correctly, he had four penalties against the Chargers.
With Denzelle Good out with a back injury, rookie Joe Haeg got the start at right guard over Jonotthan Harrison, and he did not disappoint. Haeg was stout in run and pass protection, and he even had to slide over to right tackle after Joe Reitz left the game due to re-aggravating his back injury. Haeg's play might legitimately spark a discussion for him to be starting at either right guard or tackleat some point this season.
- The Colts' run defense, led by the line, was impressive overall, but David Parry had a standout performance. He was involved in a handful of stifled run plays and even got in Philip Rivers' face a time or two.
Henry Anderson and Vontae Davis both returned to action for the first time this year – Anderson being out of gameplay for 10 months and Davis about a month. Both were very welcomed returns, as Davis mostly kept his opposing receivers quiet, and Anderson harassed the opposing backfield in his limited action.
Clayton Geathers looks like a star in the making. He hits hard, he hits accurately, and he is becoming an all-around playmaker. His biggest play came with the Chargers driving and down 26-22, with one minute to go. Tight end Hunter Henry caught a pass and began to run with some room before Geathers swung in from behind and punched the ball out of Henry's arms. The Colts would recover and milk the clock on the ensuing drive.
The stars of this show were the offense, defense and special teams collectively. The offense did its job, putting points on the board right away and taking advantage of scoring opportunities, but the defense really stepped up. They kept Rivers (kind of) in check, capping him to mostly underneath stuff, and they stood their ground against the run, holding the Chargers to 37 yards rushing and a 2.2-yard-per-carry average.
- The offense not attempting to at least score a field goal at end of first half was ridiculous. Instead, they ran the ball twice. They had 0:55 on the clock, so essentially a whole minute, 75 yards to go, plus two timeouts. With a quarterback that can throw it anywhere on the field and wide receivers that can stretch the field, to not at least go for three was too conservative. The Colts had lost the momentum after the fumble returned for a touchdown, and San Diego got the second-half kickoff. It didn't wind up biting them, but it could have.
We will have to wait and see if these frequent linebacker substitutions are going to be an ongoing trend because that's either legitimately what the coaches want to do, or if they are finding who they want to be on the field in certain situations. They keep shuffling in Sio Moore, Antonio Morrison and Josh McNary, but it's obvious that Moore should be starting (and staying) next to D'Qwell Jackson. Morrison is doing really well against the run but is a disaster in coverage right now. It's not that he can't cover his assignments, it's that he's not paying attention to his assignments.
- The dumbest penalty that you have ever seen can be further explained here:
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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