Indianapolis Colts Vs Green Bay Packers: Observations In Colts Loss
The Colts' offense looked good early but injuries and turnovers highlighted Indy's 59-24 loss in Green Bay.
The downfall for the Colts were mainly on defense and special teams but the offense did cough up the ball four times, not all of which were on the first team offense.
Injuries to running back Joseph Addai (concussion), corner Jacob Lacey (concussion), offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (toe), defensive tackle Antonio Johnson (groin) and middle linebacker Gary Brackett (hand) were exactly what the Colts did not want to see.
Pass protection was a bit shaky and led to at least one of Peyton Manning's turnovers on Thursday night. Manning came out for one series after halftime and was hit and stripped by former Central Michigan product (my current place of residence) Frank Zombo.
The fumble was recovered by Robert Francois who ended his return with a helmet-to-helmet knock on Addai, which inflicted Addai's concussion. There were plenty of highs and lows for the Colts Thursday night, here are a few of each.
Colts' Passing Game Looks Good Early
Peyton Manning and Pierre Garcon started the game off the right way, with six points. On the second play from scrimmage the duo hooked up on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 14:38 remaining in the first quarter.
After Aaron Rodgers and the Packers responded on a six-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Donald Driver, the Colts countered with 10 unanswered points.
The first three coming off a 41-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri, who looked to be responding well to last year's knee surgery. Manning and the Colts added another touchdown through the air as Manning hooked up with Reggie Wayne on a 10-yard pass with 14.39 remaining in the second quarter.
Wayne played well recording seven catches for 96 yards and that touchdown. Manning played pretty well, completing 15 of 26 passes for 214 yards, two touchdowns and one awful interception by his standards.
"Obviously the score got away at the end, which is certainly possible in the preseason; you're playing a lot of young guys," Manning said after the game. "Offensively, some things that we did well, but as with most preseason games, some things that we can certainly improve on."
Pass Defense? What Pass Defense?
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense continued their preseason hot streak, two more passing scores in the second quarter in addition to their lone score in the first.
Rodgers connected with tight end Jermichael Finley on a 15-yard strike with 9:09 in the second quarter, pulling the score to within three, 17-14. Following a fumbled punt return by the Colts' Brandon James that the Packers' Korey Hall recovered in the end zone for the score, the Pack scored through the air again.
Rodgers threw a fade pass to receiver James Jones from three yards out with just four seconds left in the first half, increasing the Packers' lead to 28-17. Rodgers was 21 of 29 for 195 yards and had three first half touchdown passes.
The Colts' secondary never had a chance really, as Green Bay's offense went to the air early and often, obviously indicated by Rodgers' first half numbers. The Colts better sure up this secondary if they plan on winning in week one against the always dangerous Houston Texan aerial attack.
Joseph Addai Produces, Then Suffers a Concussion
If you follow my coverage of the Colts, you probably got pretty tired of me pleading with the Colts' rushing attack to step up and produce. I talk about "balance" quite a bit and on Thursday night, at least early on, the Colts rushed the ball considerably better than they have all preseason.
Joseph Addai had undoubtedly his best performance of the preseason, rushing for 60 yards on seven carries, an 8.6 average. Addai hasn't looked as quick as he did in Green Bay since I don't remember when.
Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that most of his yardage came on a 49-yard run in the first quarter. But he displayed agility and a little of that speed we remember from 2006. He also caught two passes for 40 yards, 33 of which came on one pass.
That is what the Colts' rushing attack was missing last season, big play ability. I am not completely convinced we will see this consistently from Addai or Donald Brown but if they can provide a little lift for Peyton Manning, they will have done enough.
This all means nothing however because Addai as I mentioned previously suffered a concussion running down Robert Francois who recovered a Peyton Manning fumble. Addai showed poor form and ended up on the ground after making the tackle.
He says he "just got a little dizzy" and was fine after a few minutes. Addai has a track record of injuries but he attempted to reassure everyone that this one is nothing to worry about.
"Really, they didn't do any tests, they didn't need to," Addai told reporters. "I was fine. If I needed to go back in, I could've."
Pierre Garcon Looks Good In Return, Gonzalez Produces As Well
There was plenty to complain about if you are a Colts' fan after Thursday night's trouncing but Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez should be excluded from such conversation.
Garcon was making his preseason debut after missing the first two games of the preseason with an undisclosed injury. He caught two passes, including an 18-yard touchdown from Peyton Manning, for 42 yards. Manning targeted Garcon six times, second only to Reggie Wayne who he targeted nine times.
Much has been said as to where Gonzalez will end up in this deep receiver rotation and if the preseason is any indication, Gonzalez will find plenty of playing time in the slot this season. Gonzalez caught three passes for 31 yards in a losing effort.
Gonzalez may have helped himself simply by playing on Thursday as his competition, Austin Collie, did not.Gonzalez is returning this season after missing all but a quarter last year after suffering a season ending knee injury.
Brandon James Hurts Himself in Punt Return Competition
You can under perform in the return game and still retain your job. You can have a bad game or even sometimes on a rare occasion make a bad judgment call and return a punt you shouldn't. But for all that is holy, don't drop the ball, especially near your own end zone.
That is exactly what return "specialist" Brandon James did last night and it cost his team a touchdown. James is quick, he is agile but none of that matters if you can't hold onto the football.
Despite what Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs may have taught us over the last few years, mostly the return game is about field position and ball security, not flashy 98-yard returns for six. Yes, that is welcomed on any NFL team but it isn't required in order to secure a job as a returner.
James still has a chance to win the job but he does have stiff competition at the position. Rookie defensive back Ray Fisher showed a little flash and returned a kick 58 yards against Green Bay and halfback Devin Moore, although he didn't play Thursday due to an undisclosed injury, has proved to be quite productive.
Keep Smiling Peyton: There Is No Need To Worry Colts Fans
The lowly franchise record of allowing 59 points in a preseason game is a little disappointing for the Colts but short term memory is key here. You and I both know that Peyton Manning doesn't give a rat's you know what about a preseason loss and it will not matter come the regular season.
As I mentioned in my preview of this game, the Colts are now 4-21 since 2005 in the preseason and yet they have won at least 12 games for seven straight seasons. There are some definite issues that need to address such as pass protection, pass defense and the return game but these should, for the most part, work themselves out.
This is last time we will see any of the starters play a significant amount of time as most will likely only play a series in the final exhibition game, so here is what I think we have learned from what we have seen.
First off, Peyton and the offense are still very much an explosive bunch, no surprise here. Secondly, pass protection is a big concern and even with Peyton's pre-snap audibles and quick release, he still needs enough time to read the defense post snap. The health of the line should improve but I cannot say for certain whether this could have a very negative effect early on in 2010.
Thirdly, the pass defense has been a little shaky but with a little R & R, they should prove to be an adequate secondary when the season begins in a few weeks. As long as the pass rush proves to be as deadly as it has been for the past two seasons, all should be fine in Indy.