Charlie Johnson did a great job of pass pro at left tackle. Generally facing off against Jarrett Johnson and Dwan Edwards, he allowed no discernable pass-rush. Those are some pretty good rushers, particularly the Ravens’ Johnson, so the Colts’ Johnson had his hands full. On the other hand, he had one of his less impressive outing as a run blocker, so I’m still not in love with the idea of him as a long-term starter there. Basically the same could be said about right tackle Ryan Diem, but he managed a bit more push on running plays.
Speaking of offensive linemen, did you get a load of Kyle DeVan at right guard? He actually may be the long-term answer. Not only did he do a good job keeping Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce and Paul Kruger at bay, but he really made some plays in the running game. Keep in mind that Ngata and Pryce are exactly the kind of guys that gave Mike Pollak nightmares. Look at it this way: In the hole between center Jeff Saturday and DeVan, halfback Joseph Addai ran 6 times for 29 yards (a 4.83-yard average) and his only touchdown. In all other holes – he didn’t run between DeVan and Diem – he ran 13 times for 45 yards (a 3.46-yard average). Maybe if the Colts had five DeVans, Addai would be the back people keep telling me he is.
Y’know who’s getting more and more invisible on offense? Jacob Tamme. He showed up on one play in the second quarter, threw a sort-of block (Addai was stopped a yard short of the line of scrimmage) and Tamme headed back to the sidelines. Considering that he was hailed as a big-time receiver and has caught just one pass for six yards, his future in Indy does not look bright.
Of the other receivers, the numbers weren’t gaudy, but they were effective. The Ravens threw a lot of DBs out there, but Reggie Wayne (7-89-0) was his typical brilliant self, Pierre Garcon (6-108-0) destroyed Fabian Washington and Tom Santi (6-80-0) made another strong case for anointing him the No. 2 tight end, although his fumble caused a few sidelong glances.
On defense, the guy who impressed me most was MLB Gary Brackett. Strong in coverage (he had a pick and neutralized Ray Rice), he was awesome against the run. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and it looks even more crucial that he must be re-signed.
The rest of the coverage didn’t impress me. Jacob Lacey, who I am a big fan of, looked particularly shaky. He’s probably better off as a slot guy than an outside guy, but it was only his fourth start, so the jury remains out on him.
Against the run, I was surprised by how Tim Jennings and Robert Mathis stood up, especially when you consider both their sizes and reputations. I was not impressed by the usually reliable Melvin Bullitt, who seemed mystified by Rice.
There was a Devon Hall sighting. He played safety – not linebacker – but much closer to the line of scrimmage than Colts’ safeties normally play. And he looked good. Probably has a future.
The Colts mounted basically no pass rush, with no sacks, one QB hit (by Raheem Brock) and just six pressures (three of them by Freeney).
On specials, nobody other than Pat McAfee impressed me. He continues to be a top-flight punter and kickoff man. What a great draft pick.
Against the Texans
I have a great deal of respect for this team, which is always dangerous when QB Matt Schaub is healthy. They are, however, much less potent on offense now that pass-catching TE Owen Daniels is out.
On offense, their greatest asset is Schaub’s rapport with starting WRs Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. After a sensation rookie year HB Steve Slaton has been figured out by enemy defenses, and journeymen Ryan Moats and Chris Brown have had to pick up the slack on the ground. The Texans’ line is so-so overall with excellent performances this year by RT Eric Winston and C Chris Myers weighed down by shaky seasons from LT Duane Brown and LG Kasey Studdard.
Aside from three outstanding players – DE Mario Williams, MLB DeMeco Ryans and rookie OLB Brian Cushing – the Texans’ defense isn’t very scary. They’re soft up the middle, and their secondary can be beaten. CB Dunta Robinson was a top performer at one point, but hasn’t come back from a terrible injury the way the Texans’ had hoped.
Houston-Indianapolis is usually a close game, and the Colts are coming into it banged up. The keys to victory will be how well the Colts secondary can limit Johnson and Walter, how well Charlie Johnson (who’s hurt) or his replacement can handle Williams and how successful the Colts can be running up the middle.