So the third preseason game is supposed to be a real schloberknocker. You know, a game that features the starting units (or most of the starters) for the first half or so of the game. Even if you’re playing the Browns, the game is supposed to be more like a true NFL regular season match-up. With that context, it’s hard to be anything but happy coming out of the Colts 27-6 victory in an open roof environment at LOS. Here is a brief look at the good, the bad and of course, the ugly!
- Andrew Luck looked sharp going 16/24 for 164 yards. At least 2 other balls could have been caught, and the interception was not on Luck. Luck has had a very good preseason going 29/44 for 322 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception (which again, was not on him). We should all worry about him (lack of) protection, but let’s hold off on discussing that…..for now.
- Colt receivers look very good. This is an exciting group – reminiscent of our 2010 receivers which included breakout seasons for Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. T.Y. Hilton has quickly become a Colt fan favorite. Darrius Heyward-Bey (DHB) looks so much better than he did during training camp. He is a big guy who can catch quick screen passes and muscle his way down the field for 5-7 yards. And then there is Reggie. He had 7 catches last night and Luck looked for him time and again. He is the heart and soul of this team. Don’t forget about Griff Whalen. I would be shocked if he didn’t make the team. I think he is a lock. He has caught 7 passes for 83 yards in the preseason. The way I see it, Reggie, DHB, T.Y, and Griff are locks with 1 spot available. That spot could be filled by newly acquired David Reed or a guy like Nathan Palmer (if healthy) or Jabin Sambrano. After Lavon Brazill’s suspension is over, he will likely rejoin the team which could lead to a receiver cut.
- The defense played a tremendous game. After some early runs, they really stepped up, holding the Browns to 59 yards on 16 carries. They also held Browns passers to just 4.9 yards per pass. It was a great overall defensive performance.
- Caesar Rayford continues to impress. Look, I hear the arguments that he’s playing against junk offenses (usually 3rd string), but IT DOESN’T MATTER! If he played like crap against 3rd stringers, he would be cut. Instead, he’s made the most out of this opportunity and is likely one of the final 53 Indianapolis Colts. He has 9 tackles, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this preseason. All hail Caesar!
- Greg Toler has made a huge statement in his 2 preseason starts. Honestly, he is all over the field. As I sat in my seats last night, I raved about Toler at the same time the guy in front of me was showering him with love. I can’t remember the last time we had a more complete secondary. This group will only get better with time.
- The offensive line did not do a great job protecting Luck…..again. We’ll talk about the Castonzo injury shortly, but when Joe Reitz replaced him and with Jeff Linkenbach starting at RG, our O-line went from average to below average. I think the line will gel as time goes on, but we need to see more consistent performances from Satele at C and Cherilus at RT. I’m worried that Satele’s lack of getting a good push puts tremendous pressure on the rest of the line – something they can’t handle. Cherilus breaks down and then the rest of the line crumbles. Again, I think (hope) we’ll get better as the season goes on. One bright note was the play of Hugh Thornton at RG. On his very first play, he pulled on a run and pancaked his assignment. Of course, Satele blew his assignment which led to a very small gain.
- We’ve become so spoiled with Pat McAfee’s performance over the last few years, that when he isn’t “great” we take it as “bad”. In fairness, that is what I’m doing here. Pat punted the ball 5 times for a 40.2 average. One of the punts went into the end zone. Another was very short (and should have probably been aimed more towards the sidelines or out of bounds). Look, Pat is great and deserves to be a Pro Bowler. He just looked a little off last night.
- The Castonzo injury was scary. Reports now indicate that he should be back for the opener – let’s hope that is the case. A long-term injury to Castonzo would be devastating. Per Pagano, it is only a mild MCL sprain. This isn’t even fun to discuss!
The last preseason tuneup comes Thursday. Of course, that won’t be near the schloberknocker!