Colts' Preseason Opener: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Colts' Preseason Opener: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

The Colts just don't seem to care about preseason games.  The team suffered its first preseason loss of the season last night, their 16th preseason loss since 2005 (out of 19 contests). 

Their preseason struggles haven't translated to the regular season.  For fans wondering if the team's loss to the Vikings signals the pending demise of the franchise, just remember that Detroit went undefeated in the preseason a year ago before becoming the first team to ever post an 0-16 regular season record.

However, some useful information can be gleaned from the Colts' preseason games.  Here's a look at some of the details from the 3-13 loss to Minnesota.

 

The Good

Donald Brown was easily the biggest bright spot for the Colts in the preseason opener.  Brown displayed his talent the moment he entered the contest, breaking an 11-yard run the first time he touched the ball.

Brown ran the ball five times, including a long run on a draw play that went for 38 yards and showcased his ability to break tackles.  Even more impressive than the long run is the fact that his 58 rushing yards on five runs were all in a row.

Brown adds a breakaway running threat that the Colts haven't had in the past, and his ability to gain yards up the middle looks like it might allow the Colts to pick up some more first downs without putting the ball in the air.

Another rookie that made an impressive debut is seventh-round draft pick Pat McAfee.  McAfee had seven punts and averaged just a hair under 50 yards per punt.  He displayed a big leg, booming his longest punt 63 yards.

 

The Bad

Despite the fact that the preeminent stat line of this preseason contest will be Peyton Manning's three sacks in his six snaps taken, the offensive line actually had a decent performance.  

The offensive line was missing several starters, and with no game planning and a limited playbook, making the blocking calls on pass plays proved to be a little troublesome.  Their pass blocking will be easily corrected, but their run blocking was maligned all of last season and showed signs of great improvement.  

Even without a full compliment of starters on the line, Donald Brown averaged 11.6 yards per carry and Joseph Addai averaged 6.5.  Many of these runs came on obvious rushing downs, proving that the Colts will be more capable of making a push in 2009.

The run defense didn't appear to fare quite as well, allowing nearly 200 total yards on the ground in 41 attempts.  The team was without its top three safeties on the depth chart, and we all know how much of an impact Bob Sanders has on the running game. 

Still, Colts fans were hoping to see the team's new defensive tackles make an immediate difference, and second round draft pick Fili Moala struggled and racked up a pair of penalties on back-to-back plays.

The good news for the Colts is the starting linebackers appear to be headed for an outstanding season.  Phillip Wheeler looked comfortable in the starting role and made plays all over the field. 

Clint Session's aggressive style is translating well to his new position on the weak side, and he made the highlight play of the night by laying an absolutely devastating hit on Adrian Peterson to hold a running play to a three yard gain.

 

The Ugly

Missed tackles plagued the Colts all night, and time and time again, the Vikings moved the chains with yards after contact.  Several plays that should have resulted in sacks, tackles for a loss, or no yardage at all were allowed to break free for positive gains. 

The Colts don't tackle much in practice compared to a lot of teams, so their tackling should improve once they start playing meaningful contests.  Many of the team's missed tackles were a result of poor techniques that can be easily corrected. 

But if the Colts can't improve this area of the defense by the season opener against Jacksonville, fantasy owners will be happy that they drafted tackle-breaking machine Maurice Jones-Drew.

If Bob Sanders can return to the playing field after recovering from his various injuries, the Colts will have a very sure tackler rocketing in at the end of every play.  If Sanders misses more time, the other starters will have to get better at wrapping up opposing ball-carriers, particularly in the running game.

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