Buccaneers vs. Colts: 5 Second-Half Adjustments Colts Should Make
So, what do the Indianapolis Colts need to do in order to pull out a victory?
After a first half where neither team was able to move the ball very much (other than a big play by the Colts receiver, Pierre Garcon), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trail the Indianapolis Colts 7-10. Here are some adjustments that the Colts should make in order to stay on the right path.
If the Colts keep playing hard and can change up a few things, the team has a good shot at its first victory of the season.
Help in Pass Protection
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The Colts have done a decent, but not great, job of neutralizing the Tampa Bay pass rush. The team still needs to do more so that the game doesn't turn into a sack-fest in the second half though.
So far, Painter has gotten the ball out of his hands quickly with a three-step drop, but the Tampa Bay cornerbacks will catch on soon enough and start making breaks on the ball early.
The Colts can do a few things other than getting Painter to release the ball quickly in order to help against the pass rush.
Whether the Colts have to stay in two tight end sets, or keep the running backs in pass protection on every passing down (Joseph Addai whiffed on a block which led to a fumble in the first quarter), Painter isn't Peyton Manning and needs ample time to pass.
The offense needs to throw some screens as well. If Painter throws a few quick screens to Joseph Addai or Delone Carter, the defense won't be able to hone in on attacking the young quarterback and blitz every down.
Also, the Colts need to stick with the running game which has done fairly well against the Tampa Bay defense (better on the first few drives than later), and the team needs to hit some passes in the flat as well. By doing so, the Tampa Bay defensive linemen will have to start moving horizontally instead of vertically.
Throw the Ball Down the Field
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Curtis Painter has a pretty strong arm, and he needs to use it more in the second half.
The Colts won't win the game by playing conservatively. What do they have to lose by letting the ball fly deep a few times (other than interceptions, of course)?
Painter needs to hit the Colts' biggest deep threats, Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, on the first drive in the second half.
Hitting Garcon and Wayne deep will start to open up underneath passes, too, and it will keep the Tampa Bay cornerbacks on their toes.
Painter's first deep pass was a little high, but it hit Garcon in the hands and should have been caught. When Painter tried to hit Garcon again, it was well worth the effort. The pass went for an 87-yard touchdown.
While the Colts must anticipate blitzes and the pass rush, Painter needs to take more shots down the field, which can lead to big plays.
Take Advantage of Austin Collie and Dallas Clark
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The more shots Painter takes deep, the easier it will be to find open guys underneath.
Curtis Painter has thrown some underneath passes to Dallas Clark and Austin Collie so far, but he hasn't used them quite enough.
The Colts need to hit guys over the middle and pick up some first downs. Collie and Clark have great hands, and if they get the ball thrown in their direction, they are bound to make a few clutch plays.
The Tampa Bay defense hasn't needed to play behind the Colts receivers often either. Tampa Bay has been content to play man-to-man defense and send blitzes on nearly every down.
If the Colts receivers run the right routes, they should be able to beat single coverage for easy first downs.
Stack the Box and Stop the Underneath Passes
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The Buccaneers are going to pound the ball until the Colts can stop it, and LeGarrette Blount's carries will increase in the second half.
The Colts need to force Josh Freeman to win the game. Freeman hasn't played nearly as well as he did last season, although he does have a knack for fourth-quarter comebacks.
The Tampa Bay receivers haven't been very impressive either (other than Arrelious Benn's touchdown catch that was called back for illegal touching). Most of Freeman's passes have been screens or short passes.
By stacking the box and playing for underneath passes, the Colts defense won't give up a ton of yardage, and the team won't let Tampa Bay control the clock.
That isn't to say that the Colts defensive shouldn't attack.
It's Time to Throw the in Kitchen Sink
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The Colts haven't had the luxury of playing from ahead this season, but even with a three-point lead the team shouldn't play to keep it close, the Colts should play to win.
One thing that could fluster Josh Freeman is to bring a couple of house blitzes. The Colts are getting some pressure off the edge but not enough to make Freeman anxious.
Tampa Bay is focused on stopping Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and that will free up other players to attack Freeman.
Just like the Colts should stay aggressive on offense, the team shouldn't get conservative on defense either.
While sending some all-out blitzes could give up a big play, it could also lead to a big one for the Colts, too.