L, @ Denver 31-24
L, Philadelphia 30-27
W, @ Jacksonville 44-17
W, Tennessee 41-17
W, Baltimore 20-13
*No common opponents...yet*
Rush Yards allowed per game: 101.8 ypg (12th)
Pass Yards allowed per game: 240.4 ypg (16th)
Total offense allowed per game: 342.2 ypg (12th)
Points allowed per game: 21.6 ppg (14th)
Key Defensive Personnel
DT Arthur Jones** did not practice this week. Has missed the last three games, all wins for the Colts
DE - No. 90 Cory Redding...Houston native...plays hard, never quits...powerful and quick...difficult to block on the backside of runs...stout athlete (318 lb!!) that one gap 3-4 schemes crave...must neutralize his impact in the run game.
DE - No. 99 Ricky Jean Francois...something about RJF worries me...quick and strong at the point of attack...the type of player that can hold up against powerful tackles and guards and disrupt the blocking scheme
OLB - No. 92 Bjoern Werner…relentless motor...playing from a standup position much better than anyone anticipated...good hand placement, power and pop off the snap...the Colts best pass rusher.
CB - No. 21 Vontae Davis...prior to this season, he was up and down...the only consistency in his game was that he was consistently inconsistent...playing much better this season…will stay on the right side...DC Greg Manusky has both he and Greg Toler playing some different techniques and they're playing them well.
Scheme notes and other thoughts
-- Base: Standard one gap under front
-- Depending on how you classify Erik Walden, the Colts played a Bear front with four DL and four LB or five DL and three LB. Produced a sack by Cory Redding on play action on third down. 3rd and 1 (The Ravens offensive staff called a play action pass?!?)
-- Under front with 99 Ricky Jean Francois and Rush OLB Bjoern Werner on the weak side is tough against the run and pass protection schemes. This is a concern
-- They'll play quarters coverage on third and long early in the game. They'll mix up the looks in the second half and show the Texans something different but early on, it'll be quarters for sure.
-- Cory Redding is tough to block on the backside of a zone run. Are teams afraid to cut on the backside? Maybe. Either way, Redding gets across face quickly and he's trong enough to not get knocked off the ball downfield or run past the ball carrier.
-- Manusky saves some "tricks" for the second half. Against the Ravens, he saved a "T/E" twist for the perfect time. He did it twice but had the most success when he put ILB D'Qwell Jackson over the center to occupy his block. The A gaps opened up wide as could be as both edge rushers burst through to QB Joe Flacco.
-- CB Davis picked off Flacco on a beautifully executed trail technique. He aligned in off coverage and on the snap, he moved inside the Ravens receiver and then trailed him, playing with his back to the QB. The WR ran an 'in' route and broke to the middle of the field. Davis cut off the inside angle, read the WR eyes, turned back to the QB and stole Flacco's pass for a key turnover for the Colts. Davis played it very coy and aggressively; he had safety help over the top so that he could be ultra-aggressive against that inside route. Even if the receiver broke the route to the outside, Davis would've undercut that route as well. Extremely impressive play and intricate coverage work that the Texans must solve on Thursday night.
-- The Ravens gashed the Colts under front with runs out of 21 personnel in the second half. Ravens OL did a tremendous job getting a hat on a hat and opening holes for the RB. Unfortunately, the Ravens RB didn't hit the hole as hard as they could so the gaps closed quickly. This Colts defense is more stout and quicker this year than I remember it. Yet, the Texans can run the ball on them if they consistently occupy Redding, Jean Francois and the NT duo.
Rush Yards per game: 117.8 ypg (16th)
Pass Yards per game: 321.8 ypg (1st)
Total offense per game: 439.6 ypg (2nd)
Points per game: 31.2 ppg (1st)
Key Offensive Personnel
QB - No. 12 Andrew Luck...one of the top three to four quarterbacks in the NFL currently...poised...composed and tough...makes throws that just defy description...never out of a game, ever, when he's under center...difficult to take down so pass rushers must finish him when they get to him in the backfield
WR - No. 87 Reggie Wayne...not as explosive as he once was...so smart running routes and has a tremendous synergy with Luck...in 22 games against the Texans, he has 124 receptions for 1,577 yards and 12 TD.
WR - No. 13 T.Y Hilton...the one player, outside of Luck, that worries me the most on this Colts roster...explosive with, or without, the ball in his hands...if DB is in off coverage, he'll spin him around like a top if said DB has no help...seeing more targets over the past few games...should be the Colts focal point of the passing game on Thursday night.
G-C-G No. 60 Lance Louis, No. 72 Jonatthon Harrison & ?? - Louis filled in for injured rookie Jack Mewhort, while rookie Harrison filled in for second year player Khaled Holmes. The right guard spot is completely up in the air. Hugh Thornton gutted through Sunday's game with a bad ankle but he hasn't practiced this week. Keep in mind, I mentioned the word "rookie" a few times. That all said, the Texans interior, led by JJ Watt, can succeed against the trio, no matter which ones end up taking snaps on Thursday night.
Scheme notes and other thoughts
-- If it man and the DB's off - it's slant. Or...it's rub routes all day long - pick routes, whatever.
-- Quick blast for big gain v. Baltimore - tight alignment by the RB - sent WR in jet motion to line up in the backfield as the TB (Hilton) - gave belly handoff to Bradshaw. Interesting look with Bradshaw at "fullback" and Hilton at "tailback". Only showed it once v. Ravens, hadn't seen it before.
-- If Luck has time and a window - it's trouble. I found it comical heading into the April 2012 NFL Draft that some analysts didn't think Luck had the arm to make NFL throws. The Stratford HS graduate has a cannon and if you give him time and a window, he'll stick it into his WR. Against the Ravens, on 1st and ten, 21 personnel, standard play action, deep drop from the left hash, he throws laser from the five yard, left hash to the 25 yard line on the right sideline. There aren't three quarterbacks in the league that make that throw and make it that accurately. Wow.
-- If the Texans show two deep safeties on first down or second and medium, Luck's more tha likely is going to check to a run - did it against the Ravens and Jags.
-- Former Stanford OC and current Colts OC Pep Hamilton isn't scared to fire on some old school sprint out to get Luck a decent view of the half field - flood route out of trips.
-- Luck's first interception v. Ravens - got cover one, delayed LB blitz. Held it too long and CJ Mosley stuck him. Ball popped in the air and Haloti Ngata caught the ball after it popped out of Luck's hand. More fumble than pick.
-- The biggest liability for the Colts is LG, either Lance Louis or rookie Jack Mewhort. The latter has been injured and missed the entire Ravens game. Louis started in his place and didn't play exceedingly well. The problem for the Colts is that RG Hugh Thornton gutted it out on Sunday but hasn't practiced yet this week.
-- In typical former Stanford offensive style, the Colts run 13 personnel on occasion with Dwayne Allen as the move TE.
-- One of the Colts' best runs is out of 12 personnel, I formation, FB is a TE. Inside zone BOB (FB responsible for the LB). RB begins on zone path then cuts back behind FB block on linebacker. Half zone, half isolation. Later in the game they added in a power component by pulling RG Thornton to kick the defensive end. They like this look in the run game.
-- Down inside the ten, Hamilton called a throwback to the tight end. Allen started on the right side faked as if he were blocking down on a run then leaked out to the other side of the field. Luck held it as long as he could then lofted one to Allen for a touchdown. This is deadly against a fast flow defense, especially if the LB/S assigned to Allen also has significant run responsibility.
-- One aspect that I can guarantee the Texans will see...the screen game. Especially if the Texans run defense limits/eliminates the effectiveness of RB Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson.