I’m going to sound ultra-critical here and some fans won’t like it. They’ll say “look, we pulled out a tough win in week 1 – the type of win that builds character”. Others will point to all the close victories we had a year ago. I get all of that. I really do. But if you think for 1 second that we can win close games like this all year – even against teams such as the hapless Oakland Raiders – and still be a Super Bowl contender, you’re wrong. Not only are you wrong, but if we play like we did today, it is very likely our franchise quarterback will miss time due to injury.
I’m frustrated after today’s win. I really am frustrated. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead, I expected us to trounce the Raiders. In fact, the script couldn’t have been better in the first 2 drives. We ran the ball effectively and threw the ball effectively. On defense, we gave up some yards but made the big play (i.e. Greg Toler’s interception) when needed. For some reason, on our 3rd possession, things went down hill. We didn’t execute on offense and didn’t play inspired football. On defense, we couldn’t contain Terrell Pryor. It’s like our game planning was non-existant. The Colts ran 19 offensive plays in their first 2 drives but just 24 offensive plays between their 2nd drive of the game and their final drive of the game (excluding the 2 kneel downs at the very end of the game). During this time, the Colts had the ball for about 11 minutes of the game while Oakland had the ball for nearly 19 minutes. Oakland did a great job of mixing run and pass. They converted on several key first downs. Keeping the ball out of Luck’s hands was clearly a good game plan that was executed to near perfection. Fortunately for the Colts, they have Andrew Luck.
I loved the Colts game plan on their first 2 drives. The Colts ran the ball 9 times and threw the ball 9 times. Vick Ballard looked strong. The offensive line did a good job run and pass blocking. The Colts then focused more on the pass on the next 24 plays as they ran the ball just 9 times while throwing it 15 times. Of those 9 carries, Ballard, who was so effective early, carried the ball just 2 times. I just don’t get it. I know we wanted to get Bradshaw involved in the game, but Ballard had the hot hand. You have to give him the ball! Notice that they went back to Ballard on the final drive 3 times and he ran for 13 yards.
Defensively, we just didn’t look prepared for Pryor. Yes, Pryor looked really good. He was poised in the pocket and scrambled / ran very well. Most of his passes were crisp. His downfield throws didn’t look good, but his short and medium passes hit their target. Our secondary didn’t play poorly – it was really our defensive line and linebackers who were getting beat. It’s not good when your safeties make 26 of your 72 team tackles. Our defensive line made just 12 tackles. One could argue that most of the runs came from prior who ran to the outside and that is true – BUT WE CAN’T LET HIM GET TO THE OUTSIDE!
At this point I’m venting. We did win the game. We have a great opportunity to go 2-0 as we play the Dolphins at home. That said, our coaching staff has to do a MUCH better job preparing this team if it wants to win next week. We have a long way to go.