The Indianapolis Colts got a rare preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles tonight, and their prospective starters got to see some extended action. QB Peyton Manning and the first-team offense looked precise, and the first-team defense seemed stout in the middle.
By the second quarter it was all reserves, but here are some notes from the first quarter of action:
- Manning's timing looked perfect with Anthony Gonzalez, who caught a perfect fade in the corner of the end-zone for the Colt's first touchdown, and Joseph Addai, who caught a difficult pass in tight coverage on a wheel route out of the backfield to keep that first drive from stalling.
-Manning's timing with Reggie Wayne was never in question, although their 76-yard touchdown hook-up was a result of a blown coverage. Austin Collie started in the slot, but he and Manning had some miscommunications and Collie ran the wrong route at least once.
-The pass protection was much better, although the battle between Tony Ugoh and Charlie Johnson is just heating up. Although Ugoh was flagged for an early penalty, Johnson blew his matchup on an inside juke move that resulted in a sack of Manning and a fumble recovered by the Eagles. Ugoh ate up his one-on-one matchups for the most part, even on plays that didn't go for much yardage.
-Donald Brown's ability to break tackles is going to keep a lot of otherwise doomed drives going this year, just like his play on third-and-five on the Colts' second possession against the Eagles. That play would have gone for no gain if Brown hadn't absorbed a hit and sidestepped his man.
-Clint Session is a perfect fit on the weak-side, and he continues to make big plays and big hits. He was credited with four tackles, one of which jarred the ball loose from a potential Eagles' receiver and another one which stopped an outside run for a loss.
-The Colts are still really bad against screen plays.
-Matt Giordano got beat on the inside by DeSean Jackson for a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb, but for the most part the back-up safeties filled in admirably. Melvin Bullitt registered a sack when he came free on a blitz, and displayed tremendous speed in closing on the quarterback.
-The run defense looked much improved, and adding size to the defensive line seems to have payed off. The Eagles were unable to gain significant yardage up the middle against the Colt's starters.
-If rookie Jerraud Powers doesn't win the nickle corner job, I don't know what more he could do to prove himself. He also helped bolster the Colts' run defense, and made a spectacular play on an inside run during the Eagles' third possession. Run support is often where rookie defensive backs struggle in the Tampa-2, since a lot of defenses focus on assignments rather than the "flow-to-the-ball" style of play that the Colts emphasize.
-Special teams still struggled, giving up good field possession on kickoffs and producing little in the return game. Rookie punter Pat McAfee had some good efforts, but only averaged 37.2 yards a punt (down more than 12 yards a punt from his first outing).