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Tom and Mike perform the ritual "complimenting of the Loser League team names," pile on Marty Mornhinweg, and actually find a scenario where starting Geno Smith is a good idea.

15 Nov 2012

Film Room: Colts-Patriots

by Andy Benoit

When the schedules came out this past spring, "Colts-Patriots, November 18" looked like nothing more than a fresh relic from a once-epic rivalry. Absolutely no one imagined both teams would come in with records of 6-3. We’re familiar with the Patriots –- let’s break down this matchup with a focus slanted towards the upstart Colts.

1. Analyzing Luck

Andrew Luck has been every bit as good as advertised. He doesn't have a rocket arm, but he gets exactly the amount of velocity he needs on every throw. Downfield bombs, deep outs and tight-window slings at the back end of intermediate-level routes haven’t been a problem. In fact, Luck not only makes these throws, he makes them late in his progressions, both in and out of the pocket.

Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has done a fantastic job building a user-friendly system for his star rookie. Arians' playbook has opened wider and wider as the season has worn on, but most of Luck’s reads have been straightforward and defined. The Colts do a lot with play-action and rolled pockets, especially early in the game and on early downs. From a play-calling standpoint, Luck is almost never put in an uphill position.

Not that he finds uphill positions uncomfortable. Statistically, the Colts are the best third-and-long offense in football. Luck has flashed a Roethlisbergerian ability to extend the play and complete precision throws just before absorbing hits. With his sound mechanics and veteran-quality football IQ, we tend not to notice that he’s a 6-foot-4, 234-pounder who can run.

If Luck is running, it’s generally because his protection broke down. At his core, Luck is a pocket passer with the polished footwork and eyes-downfield poise to thrive behind an iffy offensive line, ala predecessor Peyton Manning. And not to pour it on, but Luck has also shown a preternatural feel for reading defenses before the snap. He’s been sharp in pass-protection adjustments against the blitz and in diagnosing coverage disguises.

So what does the rookie need to work on? Everything. There are no glaring weaknesses in Luck’s game, but his youth still shines through at times, as he’ll leaves some plays on the field or make the occasional ill-advised throw into a crowd. But truth be told, there’s not a lot to complain about with Luck. What’s more, his supporting cast is rapidly improving.

2. The rest of Indy’s offense

It’s way too early to declare anything, but at this point, it’s looking like Colts general manager Ryan Grigson's first draft could be one that goes down in NFL lore, much like Jimmy Johnson and his first few years in Dallas. The foundation is being set, as Luck is surrounded by five contributing rookies who are not just emerging players, but also perfect fits for Indy’s new system.

At tight end, second-round pick Coby Fleener is a flexible receiver who can hit the seams and also work the intermediate crossing routes. He’s a big target and a solid route runner. Perhaps more impressive is third-round pick Dwayne Allen. Though he ran only a 4.85 at his Pro Day, Allen has solid all-around football speed as a short-area H-back. He’s an excellent on-the-move player in the underneath passing game and as a blocker. His versatility has given Indy’s offense an element of deception, which the run games needs.

Spearheading that run game is fifth-round pick Vick Ballard, who captured the starting job ahead of former first-round pick Donald Brown. (Brown is still somewhat limited despite improvement this year.) Ballard is developing a sense of patience, timing, and vision at the pro level. Skill-wise, he’s up to par and getting better by the week, particularly when it comes to running between the tackles. Ballard has good burst and coordination in his lateral movement, and more encouraging is his aptitude as a receiver not just out of the backfield but also split out wide.

Then there are Indy’s rookie wide receivers. Third-rounder Ty Hilton has tremendous stop/start quickness and control. The Colts love to get him in catch-and-run situations, often via the screen pass. They’ve also sent Hilton deep more often lately –- something they’ve been doing with sixth-round burner LaVon Brazill as well. Opposing defenses are starting to play with a disadvantageous cushion when these guys align in spread sets.

Last, but certainly not last in Luck's progressions, is Reggie Wayne. He’s obviously not a rookie, but at 34, he’s had to learn a whole new position in a whole new system, as Arians cast him in his old Hines Ward role. Wayne has responded with arguably the best season of his illustrious career. He’s been phenomenal with motion-based assignments (both pre-and post-snap), fervid as a blocker, and is running smart routes out of the unfamiliar tight formations and trips-bunches that Indy uses regularly. And, of course, Wayne has still been viable as a traditional downfield receiving threat.

A 22-yard catch two weeks ago at Tennessee offered a great illustration of Wayne and Luck’s chemistry and football intelligence:

Graphics by Matt Glickman

3. Versus New England’s defense

As the season has worn on, the Colts have become more and more aggressive with downfield shot plays. Expect to see a barrage of them Sunday, as the Patriots defense leads the league in passes of 20 or more yards allowed, with 47. Deep throws aren’t the only way Indy will attack, though. Against two-deep zone teams (which is what the Patriots have been this year), the Colts like to stretch the back seven defenders with rolled pockets and slow-developing plays. Expect the Colts to do what the Bills did last Sunday and attack New England’s linebackers through the air. The Bills went spread to do this; the Colts generally involve their tight ends in the passing game out of base sets that allow for play-action and misdirection. The absence of Fleener, who was declared out early in the week, could limit their ability to take advantage of this though.

Indy guards Joe Reitz and Mike McGlynn can flash surprising power at times, but they’re mostly mudders who have to rely on a size advantage. Size advantages don’t exist when you face Vince Wilfork, who might be having the best season of his nine-year career. The Colts will squeeze their protections inside to deal with Wilfork, which means they’ll trust gifted second-year left tackle Anthony Castonzo to handle rookie end Chandler Jones, while hoping fringe utility player Jeff Linkenbach or, if healthy, Winston Justice, can contain Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich on the other side. If it’s Linkenbach, he’ll need help; expect Allen to throw chip blocks and run a lot of leak-out patterns from his pass-blocking spots late in the down.

If Luck gets time, the throws should be there. The Patriots don’t have a corner capable of covering Wayne* and, with Indy’s speed on the outside, they’ll likely play their safeties a step or two deeper than usual. That will only widen the voids that have been ubiquitous in the deep-intermediate levels of their zone coverages.

*-This might change, though, with the arrival of Aqib Talib. It remains to be seen how quickly Talib can integrate into New England’s system. It’s possible Belichick could alter the system and allow Talib to play man-to-man, which he’s best at.

4. The Colts defense

At the beginning of the year, the only reason Indianapolis even had a chance at successfully running Chuck Pagano’s hybrid scheme is, with newly acquired cornerback Vontae Davis, they could at least play bump-and-run coverage on the outside. As it’s turned out, Davis has missed more than half the games with knee problems, And No. 2 corner Jerraud Powers, a zone-playing veteran who was looking better than expected in man coverage, just went on IR with a toe injury. What’s more, Indy’s only proven linebacker, Pat Angerer, sat the first six weeks with a broken foot and has only seen rotational snaps in his four games.

And yet, somehow, the Colts have survived. How? Lucky bounces haven’t gone their way –- this defense has just six takeaways on the season. Perhaps there’s been some luck in the scheduling, though. The Colts have faced weaker offenses in the Vikings, Jets, Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Jaguars (twice). Asides from Week 1 at Chicago, their only true challenge has been against the Packers in Week 5. In that game, the Colts mixed their fronts to keep the Packers from getting into any sort of a rhythm. They also came alive with big pass-rush plays down the stretch to pull out a 30-27 victory.

Mixed fronts are a featured element of Indy’s defense. In fact, mixed everything is. The Colts have very few traceable tendencies. They’ll use a variety of different front-seven personnel packages. This is, in part, because they're still short a few cogs in their rebuilding stage. They change up their coverages regularly.

Indianapolis' only truly distinguishable tendency is that they love to bring pressure on third down, either via the blitz or off a four-man rush involving some sort of a stunt. Interestingly, there have been times this season where they seem to be purposely excluding Dwight Freeney from those stunt designs. Most likely, that’s because they want their 11th-year star operating one-on-one outside. Freeney has only two sacks on the season, but he has transitioned to his new outside linebacker role quite well. Opposing offenses still have to schematically account for his tremendous power-to-speed combination. Just ask the Dolphins, who saw star left Jake Long get embarrassed by Freeney two weeks ago.

5. Matching up to New England’s offense

It’s entirely possible that the Patriots will peel back the curtain on the Colts defense and reveal the mountain of short-comings that we all expect to be there. The Patriots have one of the better power-run games in football, which the Colts’ fluid-but-non-instinctive linebackers like Kavell Conner will have trouble against. Also, as the Jets showed in Week 6, if nose tackle Antonio Johnson can be handled one-on-one, energetic ends Fili Moala and Cory Redding can be overpowered with double teams. With running back Stevan Ridley showing better power and vision by the week, expect New England to go to the ground quickly and often on Sunday.

When the Patriots go to the air, they’ll obviously try to get Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and, if he plays, Aaron Hernandez involved over the middle. But look for them to prioritize Brandon Lloyd on the outside. Colts corner Cassius Vaughn has struggled against isolation routes at times, and it’s doubtful the Pats fear their former corner, Darius Butler, on the other side. One-on-one opportunities will be there, as the Colts will likely rely on quarters and man coverages. They’ll have to in order to use a lot of their pre-snap disguise and Byzantine blitz concepts, which they hope can coax the up-tempo Patriots into more of a chess match.

Quick Reels

RAVENS-STEELERS

Steelers offense vs. Ravens defense

With Ben Roethlisberger out, the Steelers need their rushing attack now more than ever. The Ravens run defense is not what it used to be –- especially right now. Haloti Ngata sat out last week against the Raiders with a bum knee and shoulder after looking like a shell of his usual self against the Browns the previous week. Explosive second-year end Pernell McPhee has missed the last two games with a leg injury.

At linebacker, though less than 100 percent, Terrell Suggs has been a welcome addition on the outside. He and Paul Kruger both set the edge well. Also, rookie Courtney Upshaw has started to flash his athleticism more regularly against the run. Inside, however, Ray Lewis’s replacement, Dannell Ellerbe, has struggled with run recognition in the base defense. Ellerbe has terrific downhill speed, but that doesn’t matter if he’s drifting laterally and waiting for blockers. The Steelers have blockers who can reach Ellerbe, too -– mainly inside with guard Willie Colon and center Maurkice Pouncey. The question is whether those blockers can overcome the dynamic presence of strong safety Bernard Pollard, who will surely be dropping into the box in an effort to make Byron Leftwich throw.

Ravens offense vs. Steelers defense

Who do the Ravens think they are? No, seriously –- who do they think they are? They seem to be searching for an identity. At the beginning of the year, the Ravens thought they were a spread, multidimensional, up-tempo passing offense. But in recent weeks, they’ve taken the game out of Joe Flacco’s hands and have reverted back to more of their traditional base formations. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing –- after all, Baltimore ran the ball effectively against Cleveland in Week 9 and annihilated an undisciplined Oakland defense in Week 10. But against tougher opponents (like, say the one they face this week), ambiguous game plans don’t usually fly. Expect the Ravens to commit to base personnel and try to win on the ground Sunday night. Pittsburgh’s front seven is playing well, but it sometimes struggles against zone run-blocking schemes. Plus, staying in base keeps the Steelers from using their sub-packages, which is where they’re most creative and dangerous.

PACKERS-LIONS

Packers offense vs. Lions defense

Just when he seemed to be getting a disastrous season back on track, right tackle Bryan Bulaga hurt his hip and landed on IR. Now, the Packers are presumably once again weak on the edges, as left guard T.J. Lang is filling in at a position in which he’s struggled over the years. (Evan Dietrich-Smith will assume Lang’s duties inside.) This doesn’t mean the Packers are toast -– it just means Aaron Rodgers' job will be harder. Rodgers' pocket mobility often masks a lot of Green Bay’s pass-protection shortcomings. More than that, though, a big reason why Rodgers is a superstar is that he’s great at adjusting protections before the snap. Lately, those adjustments have included aligning H-backs in the backfield for chip-blocking support outside.

Chip-blocking takes care of Green Bay’s protection issues, but it also limits the number of targets going out on routes. That was the problem in the playoff loss to New York last year: the Packers kept the Giants’ four-man rush at bay, but they often played three-on-seven through the air. This week the Packers face a fairly potent –- though somewhat under-performing -– Lions front four. Instead of investing four blockers just to stop Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch outside, they may want to spread out and incorporate more three-step timing into their passing game: the Packers are at their best when throwing quickly anyway.

Lions offense vs. Packers defense

There will be an intriguing battle of youth through the air on Sunday. With Nate Burleson done for the season due to a broken leg, the Lions have had to turn to callow second-year wideout Titus Young and untested rookie Ryan Broyles. The Packers, playing without Charles Woodson and Sam Shields for most of the past month, have had to rely on second-round rookie Casey Hayward and 2011 fourth-round pick Davon House in their prominently-used nickel packages. Hayward has shown good zone awareness and impressive closing speed in the slot. He’s also made some plays in downfield coverage. House, who operates on the outside, has been solid, particularly against slant patterns. The Lions love to run slants beneath lifted coverage on Calvin Johnson’s side. This matchup very well could come down to which team’s youngsters perform best in the passing game.

CHARGERS-BRONCOS

Chargers offense vs. Broncos defense

With his suspensions (plural) now served, D.J. Williams –- whom some have said is the most gifted athlete to ever come out of The U -– is back with the Broncos. But where will the ninth-year veteran play? Thanks to Denver’s seven-year run of new defensive coordinators and systems, Williams has experience playing every conceivable linebacker position. On this 2012 defense, though, he may not be needed. Though he’s a stellar pass defender, it’s hard to envision Williams simply supplanting Wesley Woodyard and rising fleet-footed rookie Danny Trevathan in the nickel packages. In base, Von Miller is a fixture on the strong side and Woodyard has been too reliable to simply remove on the weak side. Perhaps Williams can push Keith Brooking for Mike linebacker duties, but Brooking is only in there because the coaches wanted someone who was quicker with the signal calls than Joe Mays. Having not yet played for Jack Del Rio, Williams likely won’t be prepared to make any calls.

Broncos offense vs. Chargers defense

It will be interesting to see if the Broncos have any new offensive wrinkles designed to punish Chargers safety Eric Weddle for his pre-snap freelancing. You may recall when these teams met on Monday Night back in Week 6, Weddle gave Peyton Manning pause a few times by running all over the defensive formation prior to the snap. The Pro Bowl safety made several sturdy stops in the box that night, while the secondary he conducts did a good job jumping Denver’s short passing routes. The Broncos adjusted well during that game. (It helped that their offensive line had no trouble with San Diego’s pass rush.) Most likely, the Broncos will have to make more adjustments during the week and be more unpredictable.

BROWNS-COWBOYS

Browns offense vs. Cowboys defense

Brandon Weeden has continued to be up and down in his rookie season. His fellow first-round pick has, lately, been more "up." The Browns are finally starting to revolve around Trent Richardson. That’s what they need to do, given their limited receiving weapons. Their offensive line has been outstanding at times with run-blocking against seven-man boxes. With no Browns receivers capable of shedding press-corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys have every reason to play an eight-man box this Sunday.

The key for Cleveland won’t be locating the safety in the run game, it will be locating Bruce Carter. The ragingly athletic second-year inside linebacker is playing faster by the week. Alongside him, newly acquired Ernie Sims has stood out in taking on blocks and beating ballcarriers to spots from his weak-inside spot.

Cowboys offense vs. Browns defense

Nobody has been able to cover Jason Witten on short out routes this season. The Browns may have someone who can change that: T.J. Ward. The third-year strong safety has been regarded mostly as a hitter since being drafted in the second round. This season, however, Ward has shown aptitude as a man-to-man defender against tight ends both off the line of scrimmage and split out wide. He handled Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta admirably last week, and he dominated at times in his matchup against Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham in Week 6. Witten poses a difficult challenge because, unlike Pitta and Gresham, he doesn’t need much separation in order to haul in catches. Ward has good strength and physicality in open space; this is his chance to apply it in coverage.

FALCONS-CARDINALS

Falcons offense vs. Cardinals defense

Patrick Peterson has been more up-and-down this season than he’d like, but he hasn’t been as bad as his Week 8 Monday night clunker suggests. (In fact, he wasn’t even awful in that game -– Michael Crabtree made a lot of tremendous individual plays.) Who will Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton have Peterson defend this Sunday? Roddy White is Atlanta’s best all-around receiver. But Julio Jones is their primary big-play threat. Peterson’s spectacular ability to defend deep balls in trail technique coverage might be a viable answer for Jones’s downfield routes. The guess here, however, is that Peterson will defend White. Whichever star receiver William Gay or Jamell Fleming defend, they’re probably going to need help anyway. The fine-tuned White knows how to beat help coverage. Jones, in just his second year, is still learning the technical aspects of that.

Cardinals offense vs. Falcons defense

Arizona’s offensive tackles managed to give up just one sack in their last game. (In case you’re counting, some may have credited the sack to guard Daryn Colledge, which would have made him culpable for both Cardinals sacks allowed at Green Bay, but Colledge was trying to cover for a mistake made by stunningly slow-twitch left tackle Nate Potter.) More three-step timing plays and a stronger commitment to chip-block help on the right side for Bobby Massie made for a relatively clean Cardinals passing game. Or, at least, as clean as it’s going to get in 2012. Will the Cardinals stay committed to this approach in Week 11? On third downs, yes –- Ken Whisenhunt knows his guys can’t block John Abraham.

But Whisenhunt had better be vigilant on first and second down, too. He might be tempted not to, as lately, the Falcons have been using three defensive tackles along their four-man line. The three-tackle line hasn’t made for a slower unit, though, as the tackle moonlighting outside, Johnathan Babineaux, has been stellar in the unfamiliar role. Babineaux has great initial burst and an ability to shed blocks. If the Cardinals don’t respect him (or if they foolishly respect their own offensive tackles), they’ll pay.

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Posted by: Andy Benoit on 15 Nov 2012

28 comments, Last at 17 Nov 2012, 3:59pm by JF

Comments

11
by PatsFan :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 5:06pm

1) Hernandez is almost definitely not playing in this game. NE brought him back too early and the word is that he did additional damage to his ankle and that this time they're leaving him sidelined until he's near 100%.

2) Welker missed practice yesterday after hurting his ankle in the Bills game. If he misses practice again today, that won't be a good sign.

Update:

Welker missed practice again today.

1
by Nevic (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 2:11pm

The Packers defense will also be without Clay Matthews against Detroit.

2
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:26pm

Shouldn't be a problem. The REAL Optimus Prime is going to lockdown Megatron, so you can be sure he'd not going to get more than 3 grabs for 46 yards.

3
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:40pm

I hope you're being sarcastic. The last time Tramon Williams faced Calvin Johnson, Johnson had 11 catches for 244 yards and a TD.

That being said, Clay Matthews being out still won't be a problem for the Packers, because the Lions secondary, even when healthy (and it's not), isn't good enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers. The Packers should win by a couple of scores at least.

4
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:44pm

Oh, I was. Tramon has been talking himself up a little, and somewhat hilariously. It's good that he has a short memory, and can keep his cofidence like that, but it makes for an amusing combination with twitter and nfl network.

5
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:48pm

Okay, just making sure. I'm about as good at picking up sarcasm in the written word as Mark Sanchez is at playing quarterback.

6
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:00pm

Wow, that was pretty flagrent and totally unnecessary. That poor bastard has got it rough. Teammates stabbing him in the back and the front, NFL.com ready to deploy a webgame where you can burn him in effigy, the New York media wondering allowed if firing Rex Ryan will also get rid them of their quarterback problem.

He probably comes to a site like FO thinking, 'Man, these guys are smarter than that, they know I got no help, and they'll be on to a new week anyway. Brady is going to smoke that freakish mutant, what is it with Colts QBs and weird faces anyway.' He sees something like that, and he knows there's just no where he can go. He can't even just retire and go to Liberia to dig wells for communities without clean water because they'll all be wearing Patriots 19-0 shirts.

7
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:07pm

Nowhere did I imply that Mark Sanchez is the worst quarterback in NFL history, and should therefore exile himself to dig wells in Liberia. I can sometimes pick up sarcasm in written words, it's just that I'm below average at it. A below average quarterback would be a huge upgrade for more than a few teams in the league.

Besides, I would argue that Tebow has it worse than Sanchez. He isn't even the starter, and he's being anonymously insulted by his own teammates.

23
by Bobman :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 1:30am

That was awesome. Thanks for the stream of consciousness read.

8
by dryheat :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:19pm

. Expect the Colts to do what the Bills did last Sunday and attack New England’s linebackers through the air.

But they can't. Buffalo's strategy was pure schoolyard -- We have the best athlete on the field, we'll throw him 2 yard passes and let him run away from coverage after the catch. The Colts, and most teams, don't have anybody with the same degree of speed and athleticism that Spiller possesses.

9
by theslothook :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:34pm

This is coming from a colts fan and someone who has game charted several of their games this year. They are pretty lucky to be 6-3 right now. Not only is the interior of their line atrocious, Luck has been fortunate not to be picked off more. He does tend to force things. Outside of wayne, the receivers are still young and pretty mediocre. Hilton and Avery don't really run routes well, they are just fast. Allen is like heath miller- good all around, not special in any one area.

Defensively- they are pretty terrible(all i will say). Biggest flaw is their corner play, where really any receiver at any time can destroy this group.

I haven't watched the pats much this year- their offense seems a bit off and on(relative to their usual standards). I suspect this will be a game that reaffirms NE's status in the afc. Ugh, i think it could get ugly.

10
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:50pm

All of this makes me wonder what in the world happened in the second half of the Green Bay game. They had no business even keeping that game close, much less winning it, yet they dominated the second half.

12
by theslothook :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 5:07pm

Honestly- i blame it on a funky half from aaron rodgers. He threw a slightly inaccurate throw, receiver ran a poor route and it led to an int. Then he threw a few other inaccurate throws on third down, took some long sacks on first down which ended the drives.

It really was just a poor half offensively for the packers. Just a random blip i think.

13
by NYMike :: Thu, 11/15/2012 - 8:49pm

That, and Cedric Benson got hurt and their game plan got screwed up.

14
by glickmania :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 12:40am

And don't forget the Pagano effect on that game. Very emotional day for the whole team. This isn't the site for that kind of thing, I know, but there is little denying those things can impact a close game at home for a young team.

24
by Bobman :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 1:35am

Hey, if these guys can scientifically measure swagger, they surely can measure a young and emotional team rallying around a courageous, motivational cancer-patient coach. We'll call it the Pagano Effect, and it'll be yet another column in the DVOA tables. That goes a long way toward explaing why the Colts, a team with pretty weak advanced statistics, have such a good record--their Pagano Effect is off the charts. It's often overlooked by the general media, much like special teams.

28
by JF (not verified) :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 3:59pm

On offense the loss of Cedric Benson was significant. More significant was how emotional Rogers got after the interception, his body language was bad and you could tell he was no longer in the game.

On defense, Packers loss of their nose tackle allowed Luck to step up into the pocket.

15
by Purds :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 11:46am

As a fellow Colts fan, I hate to agree ... But I agree. I can't see how a defense that is weak inside and has no starting CBs (and even those aren't great) will stop NE. The Patriots are very happy to take 5-7 yards each play in the run or passing game, and those are precisely what the Colts give up this year. The linebackers have some talent, but the line doesn't, so an opposing run game gets to the second level almost every play, and a bad run against the Colts gains 3 yards every time. In addition, Brady will go over 300 yards with 80-90% of his passing being caught less than 7 yards down the field. Those Welker outs and crossing routes are going to kill us. Ugh. On the good sie, at least the Colts like to take chances downfield, and NE hasn't been great at defending those. If Indy doesn't run on every first down, they might be able to move the ball. You're not going to move Wilfork -- don't even try.

16
by Purds :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 11:47am

Sorry, double post.

26
by Bobman :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 1:39am

Relax and treat it as a preview of their inevitable playoff game... like the Giants/Pats Week 17 game in 2007. Sure the Giants lost round one, but....

17
by Paul R :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 1:06pm

While Andrew Luck may flash Roethlisbergerian abilities, it remains to be seen whether he is truly Roethlisbergerian or merely Roethlisbergerish. Watching him play this season, he does appear to be a Roethlisbergerite, but that could be just an accidental Roethlisbergerish resemblance due to his Roethlisbergerial size.

25
by Bobman :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 1:37am

Well said... I-I think.

18
by theslothook :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 4:27pm

As much as I like Ben, i'm not a fan of his style if only due to it hurting his longevity. If i were the steelers, this would be the YEAR to go out and draft his eventual replacement. I just can't see ben lasting any more than 2 more years with the beating hes taken and will continue to take. The steelers only compounded this by letting the o line disintegrate for over three years.

21
by glickmania :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 6:59pm

This really isn't the year to get on the Steelers for the lack of protecting Roethlisberger. Sacks are down and the Haley offense has been focused specifically on reducing the number of hits he takes by getting the ball out quicker. It's a good direction to take. Not to mention much easier than replacing a potential Hall of Famer.

22
by theslothook :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 11:39pm

It really wasn't aimed so much at the steeler o line this year as it was a combo of Ben's style, further exacerbated by the steelers poor offensive line all those years. Sure, part of the o line's problems were playcalling/ben's improvisation, but it certainly wasn't great like it had been during his first few years. The point is, eventually, the hits take their toll and you should start to prepare. The question becomes, when do you start?

27
by glickmania :: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 12:25pm

In the case of a QB of his caliber preparation is all about protecting what you have not planning on finding another one. Because finding another franchise QB is hardly something a team can properly prepare for.

19
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 4:49pm

I think you mean T.Y. Hilton.

Also, while it may be true that the Packers do better throwing quick routes, it seems to me that it would be better to wait and throw longer passes against the Lions' weak secondary, particularly when their DL is having so much trouble getting pressure. (And that's a real comment - as much as I would like the Packers to run the worst possible offense this weekend, I suspect that deep throws will not be a bad choice. It would be different against the Lions' DL of 2010 or 2011.)

20
by LionInAZ :: Fri, 11/16/2012 - 6:29pm

Does it matter if the secondary is as bad at tackling as they are at coverage? Deep throws give the Lions DL a better shot at disrupting plays.