Indianapolis 20, Baltimore 13: Three Things We Learned
After a shaky 0-2 start for the Indianapolis Colts, they have fired off three straight wins and are now tied for top spot in the AFC South after their win against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Colts offense sputtered for most of the game, and Andrew Luck was careless at times with the football, but their defense put together their best performance of the season led by standout performances from Bjoern Werner, Sergio Brown and Vontae Davis. The Ravens offense was mired in poor pass blocking, misfires from Joe Flacco and drops from Torrey Smith, who is having a terrible season thus far.
Here are three things we learned after the game:
1. Andrew Luck’s pocket composure rivals the best in the game
It is very easy to simply say that Andrew Luck is good at football, but you truly have to watch a full game to understand the minute details of his excellence. One of them, is his pocket awareness.
Luck was only sacked once during the game, but he didn’t always see a clean pocket. What amazes me is his ability to fight off defenders that are around him, similar to Ben Roethlisberger. Luck was firing off passes for first downs with bodies draped all over him. He also “climbs” the pocket as well as any quarterback not named Drew Brees or Philip Rivers. Climbing the pocket entails stepping up to it in the face of heavy pressure, while looking down the field and stepping into the throw. Baltimore was not able to pressure luck up the middle and as such, Luck was able to scramble for decent yardage on key occasions.
Luck did throw two interceptions and he almost had another one by forcing a ball into double coverage, but he quickly cleaned up his decision making in the second half and was his usual brilliant self leading the Colts to sustained drives.
2. Pat McAfee is an X-Factor for the Colts
McAfee is not only a great punter and tackler, but his booming leg is an asset for kickoffs. He had two touchbacks and two punts that fell inside the 20 pinning the Ravens on the 5 yard during the first quarter. The Colts offense was proficient enough converting 7 of 15 3rd downs, so McAfee only needed to punt three times, but his 47.7 average yards per punt allowed the Colts to win the field position battle. McAfee is an x-factor during games where the offense is not at its best and field position is imperative to help your defense.
3. It’s not that Trent Richardson is not good, but...
If you visit twitter during NFL Sunday, it feels as if every Trent Richardson rushing attempt is criticized by fans or pundits alike. When he makes a nice run, everyone is silent and as soon as he is stuffed for no gain or negative yards, as it does often happen, the masses rebel and come back out in droves.
Richardson is not a bad running back, but he and Ahmad Bradshaw are running behind the same line, but it is quite clear that Bradshaw is the superior runner. Someone needs to tell Richardson that as a big back, he should make one cut and always be looking up-field. There’s no reason for Richardson to be going laterally through the line of scrimmage as he is just not that type of back. Dancing through the hole, when he isn’t very explosive to begin with is completely outside of his skillset
Bradshaw has success because he knows where he is going as soon as he touches the ball and he is always looking to go forward. He's also running to his strentght, which is elusiveness, patience and vision.
Here were the game stats against the Ravens:
Here are the cumulative stats from this season
Pep Hamilton has done well to feature the running game. The Colts have an offensive line that is much more adept at run blocking than pass blocking and it has helped set up the play-action pass that has been a staple in Andrew Luck’s game. Trent Richardson still has a future with the Colts, but they must be judicious in the type of running plays they call for him and use tactics that force him to keep going downhill.
But ultimately, Bradshaw needs to get the lionshare of the carries. The numbers speak for themselves. Bradshaw will always need a player to spell him, as he’s been one of the more injury prone runners in the league. That is where Trent Richardson should make his niche, as a complementary back able to spot-start, but best suited as a 7-12 carry back who can support a smaller, more diminutive lead runner who can’t carry the load.
CJ Moseley had a wonderful game with 15 total tackles and a pass deflection. He’s been a revelation for the Ravens defense...Eugene Monroe was brutalized all game by Bjoern Werner. Werner, after a tough rookie season, looks to be settling in nicely replacing Robert Mathis who is out for the season...The Ravens offense was stagnant for most of the game, converting only 1 of 11 third downs, although they did show some continuity when they went no-huddle. Gary Kubiak must go back to that much sooner to get Joe Flacco in rhythm...Speaking of sacks, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro did a poor job of pass protection in the backfield. That’s one aspect from Ray Rice that will be missed.