Colts vs. Titans: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Indianapolis
For the third week in a row, the Indianapolis Colts started out slow.
Unlike last week, however, the Colts were able to leave Week 11 with a win, defeating the Tennessee Titans 30-27. The win preserved Indianapolis' perfect record after a loss, as the Colts became the only team to not lose back-to-back games in the last two years.
The game started, once again, with poor performances from all three units but ended with critical plays being made by players across the roster. So who performed well individually, and who struggled? Find out in this week's report card.
Andrew Luck: B+
Luck bounced back from a poor game against the Rams last week with a fairly consistent, steady game against Tennessee. The strong performance from Luck showed, once again, that when Luck is playing well, this team can beat anybody. If he's playing poorly, it's not going to be a fun time for anybody.
The second-year pro finished with 232 yards on 23-of-36 passing along with 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Luck's rushing touchdown was one of the most sensational plays I've seen by the quarterback out of Stanford.
Luck looked much more comfortable this week with his feet, moving well in the pocket and not being afraid to leave the pocket if necessary.
Trent Richardson: D+
Excuses continue to fade away as Richardson runs poorly week in, week out. This week, the former third-overall pick ran for just 22 yards on eight carries and added 31 receiving yards on five catches.
Richardson simply doesn't run well unless the hole is a mile wide. He doesn't see or use space well as a runner. Combine that with a lack of quickness and burst at the line of scrimmage and you get a back who is averaging less than three yards per carry as a Colt.
Donald Brown: A-
Brown ran for 80 yards on just 14 carries, and the Colts rode the veteran back as they iced the game late in the fourth quarter. He's not a Pro Bowl-worthy back, but he gets what is there and occasionally a bit more. Brown sees space that Richardson doesn't and has the quickness that Richardson lacks. Brown did allow a hit on Luck on one of his five pass protection snaps, but other than that, he hugely benefited Indianapolis.
T.Y. Hilton: C
Receiving yards were hard to come by for the Colts receivers on Thursday, as the Titans' underrated secondary put the clamps on the Colts' less-than-ideal group of receivers. Hilton led that group with 44 yards on just five catches (nine targets) and had difficulties getting separation throughout the game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: D
Griff Whalen: D+
LaVon Brazill: D
The rest of the Colts' main group of receivers combined to catch just two passes for 16 yards as the Colts were forced to utilize their backs and tight ends much more than they would have liked. Heyward-Bey also added a dropped pass, and sat out most of the second half. It will be extremely interesting to see what the Colts do with him in coming weeks.
Coby Fleener: A
Fleener had one of his best games as a pro on Thursday, catching eight passes for 107 yards to lead the Colts in receiving. With the Titans secondary shutting down the Colts receivers, Fleener stepped up, catching touch passes over the middle, making big plays and scoring touchdowns. Throw in the fact that Fleener had a pretty decent game blocking as well and you have a "breakout" game.
Jack Doyle: B
Doyle isn't a threat in the passing game at all, but he's been a very consistent blocker for the Colts all season and was once again for Indianapolis against Tennessee.
Run Blocking: B
Pass Protecting: B-
It was the unit's strongest game in a long while with everyone but Mike McGlynn having a solid outing. The line paved a way for Donald Brown to run for over five yards per carry with a pretty consistent success rate in the second half and only allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked once. Luck looked much less worried about pressure this week, and it showed in his performance.
Run Defense: C
Pass Rush: D+
The defensive line struggled in this one, especially early, when Chris Johnson simply tore them apart on the ground with 80 yards on 13 carries in the first half. But the line did plug lanes better in the second half, during which it limited Johnson to just six yards on four carries.
The lack of pass rush continues to be a glaring problem for this line, however, and will hurt the team more against a good quarterback. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't terrible, but he's not consistent enough to be able to really take advantage of a lack of pass rush.
Robert Mathis: C+
The veteran pass-rusher was held without a sack for the third time this season. Each time has been on the road. Mathis was, however, good in run defense this week, which is not usually the case.
Erik Walden: B
Not including his idiotic head butt, Walden played pretty well against the Titans, setting the edge well in run defense and picking up another sack.
Pat Angerer: B-
Jerrell Freeman: C+
Both inside linebackers struggled mightily in coverage in this one, as Delanie Walker tore up the Colts defense, but both picked up their game in the second half as the Colts made their comeback. Angerer was everywhere, leading the team with nine tackles.
Vontae Davis: B+
A week after allowing Tavon Austin to run wild, Davis bounced back with an extremely strong game against Tennessee, allowing just three catches for nine yards. Davis has been very good all year, just with a slight tendency to give up big plays. On Thursday, however, those big plays were nowhere to be seen.
Cassius Vaughn: D+
The Colts continue to miss Greg Toler and hopefully will get him back this coming week, because Vaughn is a noticeable burden on the defense.
Antoine Bethea: D
LaRon Landry: D
Both of the Colts safeties struggled in this one, both in coverage and run support. The Titans tight ends were the killers in this one, as the two safeties who generally succeed in man-to-man coverage allowed several key completions. They also failed to fill in the running game in the first half, leading to the Colts' early 17-3 deficit.
Pat McAfee: D+
It wasn't McAfee's best game, as the punter averaged just 37 yards on three punts. The wind seemed to be doing some strange things, but regardless, McAfee is better than that. McAfee also kicked one of his kickoffs out of bounds, allowing the Titans to start at the 40.
Adam Vinatieri: A
Any time you go 3-of-3 on the night, a kicker is going to get a good grade from me. When you throw in a 50-yard field goal, you're a lock for an A. Vinatieri continues to prove that he's still got both the leg and the consistency to be a top field-goal kicker in the league, despite having a bit of a down year last season.