Indianapolis Colts Preseason Week 3 Review: Luck and Griffin Battle to a Draw
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Here's what does matter from the Colts' third preseason game.
The Colts Made the Right Choice
The much-hyped battle between Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck ended with a victory for the Redskins, but that said as much about the overall qualities of their teams as it did about the play of the players themselves.
Luck battled protection issues all game long, but did manage a sterling touchdown throw to T.Y. Hilton. In just over two quarters of play, Luck hit 61 percent of his passes for 6.6 yards a pass. The low YPA was a function of how little time he had to throw.
He again showed an advanced ability to navigate within the pocket and find receivers under pressure.
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For his part, Griffin threw for just 74 yards on 17 throws (4.4 YPA), and misfired on three deep passes. He did help lead two touchdown drives, however, and picked up a passing score in the process.
It was obvious that while Griffin has a superior supporting cast, Luck is clearly the more advanced quarterback.
It was anything but a decisive battle in what should be a string of well-publicized skirmishes every four years.
Thin Blue Line
Who played better in Week 3?
Luck's day fittingly ended with a blow to the chest by London Fletcher. This was fitting because he was routinely hit and pressured all game long. There were breakdowns along the line throughout the afternoon, both in the run and pass game.
Guard Seth Olsen was particularly brutal and was beaten on several plays in the first half alone. For the game the Colts rushed for only 53 yards and surrendered four sacks, including a safety of Chandler Harnish.
Colts running backs were frequently hit behind the line of scrimmage and had no room to run. This put the Colts in 2nd- and 3rd-and-long, which in turn led to more pressure on Luck.
Simply put, it's not a talented group. The Colts brought in castoffs from other teams in an effort to get bigger and more powerful along the line. To this point, the strategy isn't working. The offensive line is worse than it was in 2011, and will likely dog the team all season.
No Pressure Without the Blitz
The Colts looked soft defensively, generating little pressure without resorting blitzes. While Jerrell Freeman managed to get a hit on Griffin early in the game, more accomplished quarterbacks won't be surprised by a simple blitz.
With Robert Mathis out, Dwight Freeney continued his run of invisibility, generating no pressure at all in his new role.
Watching the Colts get gashed repeatedly on run plays while trying to keep receivers in front of them was a call back to 2011.
There's no evidence the Colts have improved defensively, and it's reasonable to expect a worse overall performance in 2012 than they had last year.
Wide Receivers Battle For Jobs
The injury to Austin Collie has opened the door for playing time for Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton to make an extended case to be the third option for the Colts. Avery in particular needed to make an impression as injury has kept him out of the first two preseason games.
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Avery did lead the first team with six catches, but only gained 38 yards on them. He also double-clutched a pair of catches. Hilton responded with a great effort on a touchdown catch.
With LaVon Brazill pushing him, Avery's spot on the roster may only be saved by the uncertainty surrounding Collie. Meanwhile, Griff Whalen also posted a strong performance and is making a case for a long-term job with the team. His team-high 8 catches and 66 yards did nothing to hurt his chances.
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