Little to show from Colts and backups……and coaches.
There is little to be happy about following the Colts 27-10 thrashing at the hands of the Bengals. Yes, there were 1 or 2 bright spots, but it’s going to be hard to pin down very much “good” that came out of this game. Games like this really make me worry about our coaching – we were outplayed both physically and mentally. I’ll come out and say it – is Pagano a good coach or should Pep Hamilton start shining up his head coaching shoes? I’m sure I’ll be scorned for that comment, but going back to last year, I’ve questioned Pagano’s skills at game preparation. Look, it’s preseason so I don’t want to harp on this too much. Still, for 20+ guys looking to make the team, how can they look so flat?
I thought there were 2 bright spots worth mentioning. First, Kerwynn Williams did a nice job finding the holes and pushing the defense backwards. He rushed for 92 yards on just 18 carries, including a nice 20+ yard run. He wasn’t quite as good in the kick return game, but to me, it’s clear that he deserves to make this team. I also felt the 3rd string offensive line did a nice job run blocking for Williams. This is a group that included Austin Thomas, Bradley Sowell, Ben Ijalana, Jeff Linkenbach and Lee Ziemba. They actually looked pretty darn dominant on the Colts only touchdown drive. That said, I think Linkenbach remains as the only one who will make the final 53.
Special teams (kick coverage and returns) is still God-awful. Our guys just look lost. We gave up a 51 yard return to Brandon Tate where guys like Darius Butler were just mauled. I am very, very worried that our kick coverage will be worse than 2 years ago (which I said was the worst in the history of the NFL!) Improvements must be made; however, I worry that our best kick return unit guys won’t make the team. Keep an eye on this early in the season.
Chandler Harnish also looked flat out bad. He made some ill-advised throws and, at times, looked like he didn’t have the arm strength to complete a pass 20 yards down field! He wasn’t helped by his receivers. While TEs Justice Cunningham and Dominique Jones played well (could they both make the team???), receivers Jeremy Kelly and Jabin Sambrano looked bad. The Colts are not deep at receiver – especially with Lavon Brazill on suspension for 4 games. David Reed did nothing to establish himself. I now think he will be cut which means our receiving group will be Wayne, DHB, Hilton, Whalen, and 2 of Kelley, Sambrano and Sampson. The other option – the Colts scour the waiver wire. I think Kelley and the pickup of someone off waivers will be the last 2 of the receiver group.
Coaching. When our 3rd stringers who are trying to either win jobs with the Colts or elsewhere come out and are not fundamentally sound, it goes back to coaching. Look, I’ll give this a pass because it was the 4th preseason game, but I’m going to keep an eye on this all season.