Hello Queen City residents (and other displaced Bengals fans.) I am stopping by to chat about the upcoming game and give you a tutorial of the 2013 version of the Indianapolis Colts. We sit at 8-4 and have an iron lock on our division, but that record belies the general outlook of the fanbase. The team has really struggled of late. Much of this is due to injury, but more than a little is simple under-performance. More than enough blame to go around Colts HQ right now.
QB - Andrew Luck has all the makings of a future HOF player. But he's not there yet... As the team has continued to lose receiving options and the OL continues to play like a turnstile, his accuracy has suffered. His legs may be our best offensive weapon right now, but the whole thing is starting to get a bit ugly.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Trent Richardson are our top running threats. Lord help us all... Bradshaw was by far the most dynamic back on this team and I don't think many people appreciated that until he was gone. Brown was a guy we were ready to run out of town in the pre-season, but has actually been serviceable when called into action. Trent Richardson... oi! He has a lot of potential, but man is he awful right now. Couldn't find a running lane to save his life. He has been benched in favor of Brown.
WR - This unit completely fell apart when Reggie Wayne went down. That notion could be applied to the team in general. Hilton is an up and coming player with a lot of speed, but his hands are suspect and he is not a true #1. Heyward-Bey is awful. He had one of the worst drops I have ever seen last week. I think the team may actually be better starting a mannequin on that side of the field. Lavon Brazill and/or whomever else they trot out there is no real threat either. Honestly there is not a player out there right now whom I would trust to make a catch if it hits him in the numbers.
TE - Dwayne Allen had a stellar rookie year last year and was set to be a major part of the offense in 2013... then he got hurt. Coby Fleener who really struggled last year has been forced into duty as our #2 option in the passing game. He has been adequate but unspectacular. He isn't much of a blocker but is an average pass catcher. He would make a good complementary player, but can not carry an offense.
OL - LT Anthony Costanzo is pretty good. RT Gosder Cherilus (the highest paid RT in the league) is average. LG Donald Thomas went down for the year and has been replaced by rookie Hugh Thornton who has been decent. The problem all year has been RG Mike McGlynn and center Samson Satele. The pressure comes right through the middle on every play and it is almost instantaneous. This is one of the main reasons the offense has struggled so much to get into a rhythm.
DL - Cory Redding, Aubrayo Franklin and Rick Jean-Fracois. All journeymen players. All are decent, but not really to be feared. Very rarely will they get any pass rush and can get gashed in the run game from time to time.
LB - Robert Mathis, Jerrell Freeman, Pat Angerer, Erik Walden. Mathis is having an All-Pro season. He will have to be accounted for as he can change a game with a strip-sack which he has mastered. Freeman was a CFL player two years ago, but has been a great find for the Colts defense. Easily the best player on the unit outside of Mathis. Angerer has a solid rookie year, but has struggled with injuries and the transition to the 3-4. He is really too small to play this scheme and is a better fit in a 4-3 MLB. Erik Walden is the source of much ire, mostly because of his contract. Several of the Colts FA signings were overpays this offseason, but his was the most egregious. He has actually been better than expected on the field, but certainly not a game changing player.
DB - Vonte Davis,
Greg Toler Darius Butler at corner and Antione Bethea and Laron Landry at safety. This should be the strength of the defense and was early in the season. Greg Toler constantly being injured has really hampered their play. They play a lot of man coverage, so if there is one weak link it gets exposed very quickly. Davis has games where he is stellar and others where he gets picked on. Overall he is good player, but will get burned periodically. It has been strange to see this unit struggle so much recently. It just seems that all the air came out of this team when Reggie Wayne got hurt. Still a deeply flawed team in a lot of ways and perhaps some of that is being exposed now.
Could get ugly. On paper this is a battle for playoff seeding. The reality is that one of these teams has a chance to make some noise in the playoffs and the other is trying to hold itself together with duct tape and chewing gum. After looking completely inept for 5 straight games now... and only being saved by the further ineptitude of Houston and Tennessee, this one might go south in a big way. I am predicting a loss and am concerned that it might be even worse than that...
Bengals - 30 Colts - 13