The Indianapolis Colts seem to lose nearly every preseason game they play, and then go on to win 12 or more games in every regular season. The team has made it a tradition to lose their final preseason game to Cincinnati; last season they lost 27-7 and the year before they were defeated 14-6. But fear not, here's a translation of what the most recent preseason match-up versus the Bengals will mean for the team in the regular season.
The Colts Don't Need Curtis Painter
Jim Sorgi missed most of the preseason with a pulled hamstring, and Curtis Painter performed decently in his absence. But in the half that he played against Cincinnati, Sorgi proved that he is an adequate backup for Peyton Manning.
Sorgi completed 11 of 19 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, and finished with a 94.0 passer rating despite playing one series against a majority of Cincinnati's starters. He would have racked up better stats and more points if it weren't for a handful of dropped passes and turnovers.
Although he has been the Colts' backup quarterback for several seasons, this may be the first time that Sorgi has looked like a seasoned, accurate passer. Nevertheless, at times Sorgi either didn't audible to good plays or didn't have access to the full playbook. The Bengals started blitzing on nearly every play after the Colts' first scoring drive, and Sorgi had difficulty adjusting. If he had checked to a screen play against the aggressive defense, the Colts might have gained some big yardage.
Still, Sorgi's performance should give the Colts enough confidence to save a roster spot by releasing Curtis Painter. It is a risk to waive the sixth round pick, but if Painter doesn't get claimed by another team, he will be a great addition to the practice squad.
Jacob Lacey might make the team over Dante Hughes
Jacob Lacey, a rookie free agent from Oklahoma State, may have won a roster spot with his performance on Thursday. Lacey had five tackles, two passes defensed, and an interception in which he made a really nice break on a Chris Henry slant route.
If Jacob Lacey makes the team, another defensive back will likely be waived. Dante Hughes may be the odd man out. Hughes dropped an easy interception that could have prevented a Cincinnati touchdown, and he hasn't played well enough in coverage or on special teams to guarantee him a place on the team.
The Colts still need to tackle better
Even though it's preseason and it was a meaningless game in which Indy's reserve players were frequently matched up with Bengals' starters, the Colts gave up a boatload of yards after contact.
The Bengals rushed for an absurd 296 yards, and although several big runs were a result of defenders being out of position, a lot of those yards came from backup running backs breaking tackles or leaping gracefully over Colts players like gazelles in cleats.
The Colts' starters will obviously fair better than the second string players, but tackling can be problematic from top to bottom for a team. Deficiencies in this area can be directly related to how you practice, and if the Colts don't start putting the pads on more often in drills, it could be another rough season for the Indy defense.