After waiting overnight to let the game brew so that I could collect my thoughts, I believe I’ve come to a conclusion that there wasn’t much in the way of bad football to really be seen last night as we took on Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts at the Rogers Center in Toronto. Not as far as bad football and the Buffalo Bills go at least.
First, the bad :
– DONTE WHITNER.
How is this guy still running with the first team defense? Three tackles simply brushed off and a dropped interception in two series… I wish I could go with the it’s only pre-season argument on this one, but he does this during the regular season and has all throughout his career. He is also widely responsible for the first Colts touchdown, taking a terrible angle on Addai and trying to arm tackle him as he walked by to a wide-open end zone. It’s no wonder we couldn’t get any return for him when there was interest in trading him – other teams watch tape. Bryan Scott is still a better player and a sound tackler than Donte is, and he needs to take over the starting strong safety role soon or we’ll be in for another season filled with long runs by mediocre tailbacks.
– Drayton Florence.
Not nearly as bad as Whitner last night, but Drayton did not play like a number two corner should. He was getting sloppy and is lucky that they only called him for getting touchy-feely with Reggie Wayne twice. He was all over him with his hands the entire time they were lined up together. I’d like to see Leodis McKelvin back running with the first team for the final two pre-season games to see if he can handle it. The kid looks hungry and ready to step up. I know Florence quietly had one of the best seasons among cornerbacks in 2009, I’m always quick to bring it up to those who don’t know, but lately he just hasn’t been playing to the level that he did last year and that will hurt our squad when the games start to count.
– Special teams coverage (again).
DeHaven seemed to have them playing at least a bit better than they did against Washington, but there were still a lot of mental errors and decently long returns allowed. Likewise, the blocking on our returns could have been much better as, for the most part, our guys had to make their own holes out there. I hope this is like I said last week and just a you have to get used to it type of situation for all of these young players, but only time will tell.
– Lee Evans & Steve Johnson.
Not a huge issue, but it’s a recurring one that I have noticed for years with him, Evans dogs his routes way too much. For a guy that is as good at running crisp, clean routes as Lee is it is totally unacceptable to walk a slant, to run an out and not try to fight for position when the ball’s coming. He only did it on a few plays last night and some might say he made up with it by grabbing the deep pass from Edwards, but it looks bad when the cornerback that is covering you is doing everything that he can to get to the ball that is coming straight at you and you are just standing there looking at it, hoping it doesn’t get picked because you are out of position and couldn’t care to hustle to get where you need to be. Stevie was having a hard time keeping up with the defense, didn’t look to have legitimate speed that you want from your possession receiver and couldn’t fight for position very well. This is, honestly, the first time I’ve really seen these qualities from him – and he’s never been a burner, so I’m not concerned overly. He was blocking well when asked to – helped to spring Spiller on the long run – and the short gain on his one grab wasn’t his fault. Edwards threw the pass far enough behind him that he had to get low to even have a shot at it, and by the time he got down to it, he was surrounded by Colts defenders. I’d just like to see both guys step it up a bit and take some pressure off of the running game.
See? Not all bad. Now, I’d like to just run down a list of what I saw that I liked last night.
– CJ Spiller and Joique Bell.
Even if he only went for 23 yards on his final 9 carries, Spiller’s opening run was electrifying and I found myself holding my breath every time he touched the ball, knowing there was a good chance it would go downfield for six. Bell put together another solid game with 80 yards and a score, though he did it this time against lesser opponents, he looks to have good vision and speed. I’d look for him to make the final roster over Chad Simpson.
– Chris Ellis.
Once again, Chris was quietly making plays. He brought solid pressure quite a few times with the second team and was quite rangy out there, putting together five tackles in only a few possessions. His speed off the edge is deceptive, and I think he has outperformed Maybin this offseason at the OLB spot.
– Starting offensive line.
These guys looked good. Going against Freeney, Bell was having some troubles, but I’ve seen some of the best have troubles against him so it wasn’t overly concerning. Cornell Green was an absolute beast last night and was destroying Robert Mathis. Watch the replay of the bomb to Evans, he kept Mathis in containment in the backfield for that entire play so that Edwards could get the time and footing to launch that ball. We need more of that on this team for sure. The interior looked solid once again, and with Wood back it only got better.
– Chad Jackson.
I’ve liked this kid ever since we brought him in – he shows good presence on the sideline, runs decent routes, has solid hands, and is quick. He could easily supplant Johnson at number two receiver if given a shot at it. Five catches, fifty-two yards for him last night. Good showing.
– Terrence McGee.
GREAT heads-up play on the interception. He was good in coverage as well, had a pass breakup, and a memorable tackle that he came up for. Definitely liked what I saw out of him, good to see that solid play.
– Art Moats.
Looked good against the backups, bringing together a total of six tackles and being everywhere that the ball was, it seemed.
– Brohm and Edwards.
Both looked good last night. I’d like to see Brian get more game time, possibly against the ones to see how he handles the added pressure. I definitely liked what I saw out of him last night more than Fitzpatrick last week, even if he didn’t get a score. Edwards had a good night, showed more of a willingness to get the ball away when necessary and much quicker with decisions.
Overall, it was a good showing in a 34-21 victory, and I really liked what I saw from most everyone on the team. I’ll be at the game on this upcoming Saturday and will be sure to keep track of everything that I can to bring back for you. Keep an eye out later this week for more – I’ll start talking about who might not make cuts and how the final depth chart might fall. Thank you for reading, I’ll see you again real soon.