Sunday, August 14, 2011

Colts at Rams preseason: 2nd look

Saturdays game had a pretty predictable outcome; basically when Peyton Manning is not playing the offense struggles to move the ball consistently.  That said, some aspects of the offense looked better than it has in the past in that situation.  You could tell that Painter had been getting a lot more snaps and the offense more closely resembled a run of the mill offense in the NFL instead of looking like a chimp trying to land a airplane in a blizzard.

The defense looked bad, but there were a few nice plays from the young guys.

Firstly lets focus on the performance of the draft picks:

Anthony Costanzo (LT):
Costanzo did not come in until the 2nd quarter (but who knows, he looks a bit like Linkenbach).  He showed good mobility, but then that was what he was known for in college.

Ben Ijalana (RT):
This is a big dude.  I expected him to be a guard for the Colts, but it looks like they are grooming him for the RT position.  He showed good power and movement in the run game and seemed to do fine in pass protection.  

Drake Nevis (DT):
This guy is really active for big guy.  He started and from the first snap he was getting penetration (of course he was blindsided by a trap on that play).  He chased down plays away from him from sideline to sideline.  Of course it is early and it is only preseason, but Nevis is the guy to watch from this draft class so far.  

Delone Carter (RB):
Carter did not get any real opportunities to shine.  He will continue to get chances with the second unit throughout the preseason.

Chris Rucker (DB):
The stats say he had two tackles, but I can't say I noticed him.

The Colts starting offensive line featured three regulars from last season, Jeff Saturday, Mike Pollak, and Ryan Diem.  We know a lot about Saturday and Diem; how did the young guys do?

Jeff Linkenbach (LT):
While last year he proved that he cannot play guard, Linkenbach always surprises when he comes in at either tackle spot with his solid play.  He never seems to outright screw up and he is where he is supposed to be at all times.  This helps offset the fact that by any measure he has marginal at best athleticism.  He remains a valuable backup at tackle.  He made some nice blocks on both the run and pass.

Joe Reitz (LG):
He looks a lot like Mike Pollak out there on the field, but he looks stronger and faster.

Mike Pollak (RG & C):
Pollak continues to look weak and undersized whenever he is in the game.  He started at RG for the first series but then moved to center to relieve Saturday for the second series.  He also does not play with the kind of quickness that might compensate for his lack of physicality.  When he was in at center and DeVan was playing right guard, the interior of the line was extremely weak and allowed penetration on multiple occasions.

Jacques McClendon (LG): 
McClendon does not really fit the profile of the standard Colts lineman - and that's a good thing.  He has a powerful squat body and is a power player.  He was not on very many team's radar when the Colts drafted him.  He had some solid run blocks and looked fine in pass protection.  I'm hoping he starts this season.

On to the Colts fans whipping boy:

Curtis Painter started the game and threw a pick on the third play of the game.  He moved up in the pocket and tried a little too hard to make something happen, attempting to throw a touch pass while he was running forward.  These things happen with inexperienced players and it did not bother me too much.  After that, he was decisive and accurate - leading the Colts on a long second drive for a field goal.  He seems to know what he is doing out there.

Jerry Hughes would be the second choice for Colts fan whipping boy.  He started tonight at Dwight Freeney's right defensive end spot.  This could have been called the "Irony Bowl" since he was matched up against IU product Roger Saffold who was starting at right tackle for the Rams.  The Colts chose not to draft Saffold despite need at tackle and instead picked Hughes.  While it is still early in both players career, Saffold has stepped right in and contributed whereas Hughes is behind Freeney and Mathis on the depth chart.  Saturday night he held up well against the run but I don't think he had any particularly good rushes as the Rams QBs were not holding the ball for very long.

Random notes:

  • Donald Brown looked really good, showing some nice burst and shiftiness when he received blocking.
  • The Rams ran some rather advanced and ingenious blitzes - interesting that they got that in with the limited practice time.
  • Watching the Rams offense in the first half I found myself thinking that they looked a bit like the Patriots - then I remembered that they had hired former Pats coordinator Josh McDaniels in the offseason.  So there you go.
  • Tommie Harris (10 year vet with the Bears) looked good in limited time.  We have a lot of bodies in that DT rotation.


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