Colts vs Bears: 5 Keys to the Game for Indianapolis
How did you draft your fantasy team from under that rock?
More importantly, how can the Colts, who finished a league-worst 2-14 last season, hope to remain within striking distance of the Bears?
Read on, Colts fan.
Andrew Luck Must Be Composed
Andrew Luck was born for this.
And after being taken first overall in this year's NFL Draft, everybody knows it.
What Colts fans should be doing right now is tempering expectations as much as possible. No matter how much innate talent and potential Luck is running around with, it's important to remember a few things.
It's his first NFL game.
The Colts are a (presumably) bad team.
The Bears are a (presumably) good team.
Let's just get Luck through this one in one piece, then worry about how he did.
Based on how the preseason looked, he isn't going to get much time in the pocket. He isn't going to have the same base-personnel vanilla looks, play after play. He isn't going to be handed a gold star that says great job.
No, Luck is going to be all kinds of uncomfortable in this game, early and often. A lot is going to be asked of him and he probably won't be able to deliver.
The best we can hope for is that he just stays in the game, both physically and mentally.
Don't Let Brandon Marshall Kill You
He's an excellent route route, has superb hands and is as hard to tackle as your own grandmother.
Admittedly, for different reasons.
The Colts are patting themselves on the back right now after trading for cornerback Vontae Davis. Not only is Davis a big, physical corner than matches up well with Marshall, but they were also teammates for the last two seasons in Miami. Davis will be familiar with some of Marshall's tendencies, having practiced against him every day.
And the Colts need all the help they can get to stop this guy. The last time he lined up against them, he set an NFL record by catching 21 passes. He also finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
If he does even half of that on Sunday, the Colts will be in huge trouble.
Somebody Has to Make Tackles
The Colts have consistently been among the worst in the league at stopping the run over the last five years.
Since 2008, the team has ranked 24th, 24th, 25th and 29th in opponent rushing yards per game.
There are two main reasons for the abundance of yards surrendered on the ground: lack of penetration and abysmal tackling.
As fans, we can only hope that the scheme changes enacted by the new coaching staff will help with the lack of penetration. Gone are the days of the Tampa 2, replaced by overload blitzes and amoeba fronts.
However, the tackling still needs improvement. As much as we want the coaches to fix everything for the Colts, the coaches aren't on the field making plays.
Neither are the Colts players.
I have watched countless missed tackles from Colts defenders, and I fear the worst against Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Pat Angerer would give us a decent chance, but alas, he will not play.
It could turn out to be another Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor showing.
Keep the Bears off Luck's Back
We don't want Andrew Luck turning into the next David Carr, so this is paramount.
Julius Peppers is going to give hell to whichever Colts offensive lineman he's facing on every play. He's going to be double-teamed, and possibly triple-teamed at times, to prevent him from obliterating the Colts' signal-caller.
Unfortunately, Indianapolis' remaining offensive linemen are not going to win their individual battles 100 percent of the time, and Luck is going to be sacked.
If the Colts are going to have any chance of winning, they have to keep him upright as much as they possibly can.
A rookie in his first NFL game is likely to get a bit trigger-happy if the pocket is constantly muddled with defenders. That's not a recipe for winning games against teams with playoff aspirations.
Punt the Ball out of Bounds
Colts fans will never forget how it felt to watch Devin Hester take back the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown.
It was the most stressful event of my entire high school existence.
After that return, the Colts did everything in their power to boot it out of bounds, far, far away from the weapon they call Hester.
Even though much time has passed, and Week 1 is a far cry from the Super Bowl, I would ask that they stick with kicking it as far from No. 23 as possible.
Ask? Nay, I implore them to do so.
As if Hester wasn't a good enough returner in a vacuum, the Colts have boasted some of the worst special teams units in the league in recent years.
Kicking to Hester is akin to accepting a dangerous dare from a friend.
Sure, you showed everyone that you're "the man."
However, your pants are now on fire.
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