Being a New England Patriots fan, I was quite apprehensive about the Week 11 game at Lucas Oil Stadium versus the Indianapolis Colts. It's all well and good beating the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning at Foxboro, again. Yet this was a true road game in a suspected AFC playoff team and Super Bowl contender. Being in England, I had to sleep and hope I woke up to good news.
I woke up to a scoreline of 42-20 victory for New England. Yet it wasn't another great showing by Tom Brady, he threw no interceptions but the hero was unheralded running back Jonas Gray who ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns.
However, upon reading social media my interest has been piqued by the future more of the Colts. Being a fan of Brady and Bill Belichick, you get accustomed to them finding ways to maintain a consistency of performance and finding ways to succeed. Belichick employed a sixth lineman to help the running game and simply overpowered a weak Colts defence.
Before Sunday, the Colts were leading the NFL in offence and yet were last in defensive rankings. When you have put all your chips in on a franchise quarterback and ask him to take you to the promised land of Super Bowl glory, the minimum requirement is to give him the opportunity to win the game. That means keeping him on the field, give him short field to work with and disrupt the offensive flow of the opponents.
Belichick in employing Gray as his offensive weapon, fundamentally kept Luck off the field for long periods of time. The constant scoring meant Luck had to throw more; Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson ran the ball only 7 times, not helped by Bradshaw breaking his ankle. Luck has offensive weapons but there are teams in the AFC with just better defenders than what the Colts have. The Patriots have Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Logan Ryan. Would any member of the Colts secondary dislodge those gentleman?
My concern for the Colts is that this was a season that was an opportunity to get a number 1 or 2 seed. The defeat yesterday means they will have to go through Mile High and then Foxboro to reach Arizona, they are conveniently playing in a poor division and they are the best team in that division for this season.
The Houston Texans are having a great defensive year in spite of offensive failings. In JJ Watt you have a player who would be considered for MVP awards if the Texans were above .500; and they are now at .500 with a seemingly more capable quarterback in Ryan Mallett. Houston have a wealth of talented defenders apart from Watt; they drafted Jadaveon Clowney correctly and still have Brian Cushing and Danieal Manning who put up great numbers. The team is carried though by Watt, and for years to come the battle between him and Luck will be exhilarating.
The point of the last paragraph is that if the Colts do not get help on that offensive line to protect Luck then Watt, Clowney et al will eat him up and usurp them as the number one team in the AFC South.
Case in point they need to plan and draft better. It was fortuitous that Coby Fleener was drafted 34th overall and become the perennial safety blanket (aren't all tight ends safety blankets) for Luck has evidenced by his 7 receptions for 144 yards on Sunday night. It was a stroke of luck for the Colts but look at who was selected 35th and 36th in the same draft. After Fleener was Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) by the Baltimore Ravens, a wonderful player and after him was Derek Wolfe a component defensive tackle for the Broncos. Even the unfortunate Jonathan Martin (Stanford) was selected 42nd by the Miami Dolphins as an offensive lineman.
Fleener will be around for years but he can expect more coverage next week after news that Dwayne Allen has a high ankle strain so a few weeks out. The only worry is will Luck get the ball to him, enough to get the win. The Colts are 6-4 and the Texans 5-5, the encounter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 14th will be all important to who makes the playoffs.
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