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Preseason Recap: Game 3, Lions

The Colts dropped to the Lions today 18-17. They are now 1-2 on the preseason

The Good:
  • Joe Addai showed excellent burst
  • Don Brown ran hard.
  • Tim Jennings made some nice plays both in coverage and on special teams.
  • Peyton Manning is in perfect form
  • McAfee continued to kick well
  • Painter improves almost weekly (more on him tomorrow)
The Bad:
  • There was generally sloppy tackling
  • There was no consistent pressure on the QB. This is due to Mathis not playing and Freeney playing very little.
  • The blitz was seldom effective and led to big plays (here’s hoping this isn’t a theme).
  • Manning was sacked again (Saturday failed to pick up a blitz on 3rd down).
  • Gonzalez dropped what would have been a huge gainer on third down to kill a drive.
  • The run game was invisible in the first half.

What we learned:
1. Preseason is utter drudgery and hard to take seriously.
On defense we learned almost nothing. The Colts were without Sanders, Hayden, Mathis, Johnson, and Brackett. Freeney, Bethea and Jackson all saw limited work. There’s no point in saying much of anything about the game defensively, because the Colts were playing a weird hybrid of first and second stringers.

2. The offense should be strong.
We saw Manning throwing consistently to the TEs with Clark making several beautiful plays. When they came out in the second half and made a concerted effort to run the ball, they did so with ease.
3. This was a solid draft for the Colts
Brown scored a TD. Painter looked good. Collie caught a pass on third down. McAffee impressed as punter. Powers continued to makes plays, and had a pick. I even spotted Moala on a tackle in the second half. Impressive work for Polian this year.
4. The blitz will be a bad thing for the Colts if used too often
We make no secret of the fact that we are anti-blitz here at 18to88.com. The long rumored changes employed by Coyer may excite some, but they terrify us. I’m assuming that the only reason to blitz a scatter gun like Culpepper on 3rd and 13 is scare future opponents into thinking you might blitz in the future. It was a terrible play call, and was exploited. I’m not going to rip on Coyer for it though, because I can only assume there are other reasons for doing it other than wanting to give up first downs. The Colts blitzed consistently throughout the game, and the results were rarely positive. I realize that there were backups playing in the secondary, but the whole thing scared the crap out of me.
5. We may be stuck with Charlie Johnson
Not only did we not see Ugoh work with the first team at all, but I picked him up mostly at RT when he did play. Johnson was serviceable. He had a lousy run block in the first quarter, and got whipped twice pass blocking, once on a double team that forced an incomplete pass, but Manning survived, I guess I can’t complain.
Demond Sanders: The running game is still the biggest concern for me, even bigger than the left tackle. The LT position is manned by the same two players as least year, and they are protecting the same great quarterback.  Manning should receive roughly the same level of pass protection, which we could probably live with. But if the Colts have the same level of rushing performance it will be disasterous.  And yet there are few on-field signs that they have improved the run game.  (I understand there haven’t been all that many preseason reps for Addai and Brown to show off).
I believe the running game will improve this year.The talent level is slightly better, healthier and more experienced.  But we are heading into the Jags game with a huge question mark.