Colts vs. Jaguars: Takeaways from Indianapolis' Win over Jacksonville
The positive 34 point differential is something that's only been matched by Indianapolis five times, including just three times in the Manning era (2009, 2004 and 2003). The Colts were dominant on defense and efficiently aggressive on offense on their way to the division victory, and currently have the fourth-best point differential in the NFL behind Denver, Seattle and Kansas City (positive 54).
With the win, and a loss by Houston, the Colts will either be tied with Tennessee for the division lead or hold it outright after this week. A vulnerable division continues to look that way through four weeks.
Second-Half Offensive Woes Have Disappeared
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Colts' odd inability to score in the second half, failing to score more than seven points in any of the games coached by Chuck Pagano.
Since then, the Colts have scored 17 points in the second half against San Francisco and 17 against the Jaguars this week. This week the Colts came out aggressive in the second half, taking two pass plays to score a touchdown and extend their lead to 27-3.
The Colts have had very serious issues with letting teams come back in the second half, but those were never an issue on Sunday. The Colts extended the lead throughout the second half and were able to move the ball efficiently after a slow start in the first quarter.
Andrew Luck's Odd Start Continues
Andrew Luck has looked off to start this season.
Each week it seems like he's having troubles finding open receivers and is missing chemistry with his receivers.
This one started out similarly, as the Colts started out their first three drives with two punts and an interception. Luck missed a couple big plays down the field and had miscommunication with T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey multiple times.
Luck went on to have a decent game, but there are concerns floating out there (from both fans and analysts) about his development and ability to read the field. It's perfectly fine, and fair, to give him a few more games in this offense before he's judged, but it's something to watch under Pep Hamilton.
On the Other Hand, Luck Still Is a Magician in the Pocket
One of the most impressive things about Luck (hint: there are a lot of them) is his mobility in the pocket. Luck is one of the hardest quarterbacks in the league to bring down, and it leads to all kinds of big plays by the second-year quarterback.
This week's edition came with 44 seconds left in the first quarter, as the Colts were down 3-0. On 3rd-and-8, Luck had pressure looping around his back side, which he stepped up and avoided. Immediately after he had a free defender making a beeline for his front side, which he deftly stepped back and avoided before running for 17 yards and a first down.
You know what? Just watch it.
Trent Richardson Doesn't Look Good, but Don't Panic
For the second-straight week, Trent Richardson failed to impress, running for 60 yards on 20 carries. Richardson simply isn't adding much to the Colts. According to Brian Burke's Expected Points Added, Richardson has actually been responsible for negative 6.7 expected points in his two games with the Colts, including negative 3.4 against Jacksonville.
Richardson had a bit more success against Jacksonville, running for a few medium-sized gains, but he simply gets stuffed for 0-2 yards far too often.
Richardson has been valuable on the goal line, scoring two touchdowns in the last two weeks. The touchdown runs were fairly simple, but results are results.
Now, this isn't the time to panic on Richardson. There are plenty of philosophical qualms to be had about the trade, but judging how good Richardson will be in Indianapolis can wait. It's been just two games with his new team, behind a new offensive line in a new scheme. Personally, I'd wait until the bye week to judge him for this season.
Donald Brown Has a Place in This Offense
For the second-straight week, Donald Brown was the Colts most efficient back, running for big yards on just a few carries.
Brown ran for 25 yards on just three carries last week and added 65 yards on three carries against Jacksonville. His first touch went for 50 yards on a draw in the second quarter, a play that was a catalyst for the Colts offense. The Colts had punted twice, turned the ball over and kicked a field goal in the four drives prior to Brown's run, but they scored three touchdowns and added two more field goals in the seven drives that followed.
Brown won't be the Colts' lead back, but he certainly has a place as a situational back in Indianapolis. His speed and patience behind the line has allowed him to find creases when the Colts spread the field, and he can be valuable in a RB-by-committee situation.
Coby Fleener Continues to Step Up
The Colts' second-year tight end out of Stanford has quietly played fairly well in Week 2 and Week 3, and he showed up strong this week as well.
Fleener finished the game with five catches on seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. Each of his catches were for either a first down or a touchdown, including two conversions on third down.
Most importantly for Fleener, he was strong at the catch point. Fleener has had issues with drops in the past, as well as making catches in traffic (which technically are counted as passes "defensed"). Against the Jaguars, however, Fleener caught multiple balls in traffic and was dependable.
Fleener's 31-yard touchdown was a wide-open score, but seeing him running a route up the seam was refreshing, and something that analysts have been calling for since he was drafted last season.
Robert Mathis Is Ready to Be a Franchise Pass-Rusher
The question this offseason was simple: Could Robert Mathis continue to be effective without Dwight Freeney wreaking havoc on the opposite side?
Well, through four games Mathis has 7.5 sacks, including three against Jacksonville. I'd say that we can safely say that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Mathis now has 99 career sacks and is just 8.5 away from Dwight Freeney's franchise record. The 10-year veteran has been the vast majority of the Colts pass rush and, along with Cory Redding, has been the force behind a surprising ability for this team to make the opposing quarterback uncomfortable.
Oh, and Mathis also led the Colts in tackles (5), tackles for a loss (2) and quarterback hits (4) against Jacksonville.
Vontae Davis Is Playing His Part
The Colts traded for CB Vontae Davis last fall, giving up a second round pick in return. Davis started the season with a few bad games but ended the season well.
He's continued that streak of solid play to start this season. Outside of allowing a few completions against the Raiders in what looked like a playground game, Davis has been outstanding. He's tackled very well and was a key part in the Colts ability to shut the 49ers' passing offense down in Week 3.
Against the Jaguars, Davis was impressive once again, keeping tight coverage throughout the day. He finished with two pass breakups and a juggling interception along the sideline.
The Colts haven't played any elite quarterbacks (or elite groups of wide receivers), but so far, Davis has done everything the Colts have asked of him.