Colts vs. Redskins: Indianapolis' Biggest Winners & Losers from Preseason Week 3
In the battle of the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2012 draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III showed why they will be very good-to-great NFL quarterbacks. Both offenses sputtered to start the game, but the Redskins got on track, and, as a team, just outplayed the Colts.
The ugly performance by the Colts resulted in a 30-17 loss.
With three out of four preseason games in the books, let's take a look at the winners and losers for the Colts from Week 3 of preseason.
Colts Offensive Line: Loser
After getting some props from Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts offensive line struggled. No, not just struggled, they look downright horrible. The only exception for me would be Anthony Castonzo. Everyone else? Horrible.
Andrew Luck, the franchise, was running for his life much of the first half and took far too many hits. The Redskins recorded three sacks including a safety, in which tackle Jeff Linkenbach just looked plain lost on the field.
It wasn't just pass protection either. The Colts could not get any yardage, whatsoever, on the ground. Donald Brown and Vick Ballard combined for just 16 yards on 14 carries.
The line play was decent against St. Louis and even at Pittsburgh. This week, they seemed to take five steps back. I would be surprised if the Colts do not add some linemen from the waiver wire next week.
Andrew Luck: Winner
No surprise here. Andrew Luck is a winner. Despite little to no protection from his offensive line, Luck finished the game 14-of-23 for 151 yards and a touchdown. He exited the game after the first drive of the third quarter.
The touchdown pass was a thing of beauty. Under pressure, Luck stepped to the side, avoiding a sack, and threw a perfect deep ball to the front left corner of the end zone. He put it in a place where only his receiver, T.Y. Hilton, could catch it. And catch it Hilton did, for 31 yards and the score.
The Colts offense was struggling up to that drive. The Redskins had just moved down the field for a touchdown. Then, like we've seen before in preseason, after the opponent scores, Luck guided the Colts down the field for a touchdown drive to match them.
He again showed patience and command of this offense. Even though the offense had a difficult day, when Luck's in the game, you get the feeling the Colts can score on every drive. It's kind of like the feeling you had when No. 18 was behind center. Kind of.
Korey Lindsey and Josh Gordy: Losers
Once Jerraud Powers went out of the game with a sprained knee, the whole Colts defensive backfield went from ordinary to not good just that quick. This shows us two things we should already know:
1. The Colts have absolutely no depth at cornerback.
2. The Colts cannot afford to lose Jerraud Powers. Hopefully he's OK by Week 1 of the regular season.
Two corners who stood out to me in the most negative way were Korey Lindsey and the newly acquired Josh Gordy.
These two made Rex Grossman look like a Pro Bowl quarterback. On one of the touchdown drives led by Rex Grossman in the second half, Grossman completed at least two passes against Lindsey and Gordy each. One was a touchdown pass where Dezmon Briscoe beat Gordy, and beat him bad.
I don't expect Lindsey to make it past Monday's cut-down day as he hasn't shown too much during the preseason, but Gordy was having a good preseason with the Rams. Hopefully Gordy can show more in Week 4.
T.Y. Hilton: Winner
T.Y. Hilton made up for that bobble-turned-interception against the Steelers last week with a good performance against the Redskins. He was on the receiving end of an excellent, 31-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck. While it was a perfect pass from Luck, it was also a great catch by Hilton. He also showed off his speed on the play as he blew past the defender.
Hilton finished the day with four catches for 54 yards. He left the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the third quarter. With Austin Collie's status up in the air and Hilton's continued progress, the Colts can ill afford to lose Hilton.
Jerry Hughes and Dwight Freeney: Losers
While Jerry Hughes had good performances against the Rams and Steelers, Dwight Freeney has been somewhat invisible so far in preseason. Against the Redskins, both were visible, but not for good reasons.
Neither could generate much pressure on Redskins' quarterbacks. Neither of them defended the run well. Redskins' running backs continually broke free on the outside for good gains. Hughes and/or Freeney were no where to be seen.
As outside linebackers, they've got to make those plays, or at the very least be involved in making the play. The days of playing the run on the way to the quarterback are supposed to be over. Both guys are certainly capable of better performances, but there are still questions about them and their place on this team.
Hughes's roster spot is safe. He showed he can play well at the OLB spot in the first two games. Freeney, on the other hand, brings a $19-million cap hit with him. I'm not saying he's going to be cut, but I'm not saying he's 100-percent safe either.
Griff Whalen: Winner
Griff Whalen! Showing up again! One week after making his debut against the Steelers, and going for 59 yards on four receptions including a touchdown, Whalen showed again why he may be worth a roster spot. At the least, he's worth a spot on the practice squad.
Whalen had a game-high eight receptions for 66 yards. One catch stood out to me. At the start of the fourth quarter, Chandler Harnish threw a pass over the middle that was out in front of Whalen. Whalen seemed to effortlessly pluck it out of the air, bring it in to his body, take the hits and pick up the first down.
Even with Austin Collie's status unknown, it will be pretty difficult for Whalen to snag a roster spot. It won't be for a lack of effort though. He has shown the last two weeks that he can be a reliable fourth or fifth receiver in the NFL.
Colts Defense: Losers
I'll just go ahead and call the whole defense out. The game started out OK for the Colts' D, but from the second quarter on, the defense looked like that frustrating Colts defense of 2011.
The defense that just couldn't get off the field. The defense that couldn't stop the run. The Colts gave up 148 yards on the ground. Some rookie named Alfred Morris ripped off 107 yards on just 14 carries.
Coach Pagano cannot be happy with the effort put forth by his defense.
Keep in mind that Cory Redding did not play, and Jerraud Powers left early with an injury. Still, the defense had no answer for the Redskins running game. Add to that the fact that the Redskins' quarterbacks seemed to have all day to find an open receiver.
Not a good day for the defense.
Donnie Avery: Winner
Donnie Avery finally saw some action for the Colts on Saturday, and he played well. He finished with six catches for 38 yards. A couple of those passes were short screen passes. You've got to think he'll take a few of those to the house for six this year.
A couple catches stood out to me. One was from the first quarter. It was a short pass that he turned into a first down with his run after the catch. He had a nice catch in the second quarter that also picked up a first down.
I've had questions about Avery, mainly concerning his health. If he can stay on the field, he should be a good weapon for the Colts with his big-time speed. This game was a step in the right direction.
Follow Brian on Twitter @coldy4goldy.