Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Sep 2010

ESPN AGS: Texans over Colts

As the first Any Given Sunday of the season points out, it isn't Houston's victory over Indianapolis that is important. It's how the Texans won, finally showing a running game to compliment their passing game and exposing the return of Indy's run defense issues.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 14 Sep 2010

20 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2010, 11:26pm by drobviousso


by Colts fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:00pm

What a piece of crap article. The Texans surprised the Colts on the FIRST game with a running back that can run.
Remember Jones-Drew in 06? He hasn't done crap since. You know why? Cause the Colts adjust and shut down what's wrong. That's what dynasty's do.
So, the next time we play the Colts, there will be no running game.
You basing your theory off one game shows the limited scope of your creativity.

by TexansFan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 4:27pm

The article was not talking about the season. It merely pointed out how that first game was won. Keep to the facts. Jones-Drew has nothing to do with the game last Sunday. Neither does what kind of game Houston will run against Indianapolis next time. Maybe the Colts will win the next match with Houston, maybe not. In the meantime, you should try to exhibit a little class by accepting what DID happen instead of cutting people down. By the way, a really good team can adjust during the half-time break. Indy didn't do it.

by sam :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 8:25pm

As previously mentioned, calm down. The article is examining how the Texans beat the Colts, this one time, this one week. You might have been more offended if they didn't examine the game - meaning this wouldn't have been a big upset.

Anyway Jones-Drew averaged 4.3 yard/carry in gaining 207 yards against the Colts last year (and keep in mind that the Jags put up a lot of points on that Colts defense last year on the Thursday night game - Drew was only one weapon).

'08, Week 3 he gained 107 yards on 19 carries (long of 18), a TD and 4 receptions for 60 yards.
'08, Week 16 he gained 162 yards on 27 touches
'07, he averaged 4.3 yards/carry splitting time with Fred Taylor

So, I wouldn't say he did "nothing" against them ever again. But he did completely obliterate your defense in that game in '06.

sam! or the original sam from the old FO

by jmaron :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:03pm

I can't wait to see that game when "we" play the Colts.

I think the Colts will shut down your running game.

by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:17pm

...and I see the Colts trolls have arrived...

by Harmy G (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 2:51pm


by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:09pm

The Colts have problems. They have too much invested in aging resources that prevent them from properly dealing with the holes in their roster (everything except offensive skill positions, MLB, and DE's). Bob Sanders is out for the year again.

Of course, I still expect the Colts to win the division, because Peyton Manning really is that good. But they aren't as good a team as they were in the Super Bowl year, or even as good as they were last year. They build through the draft, but they haven't had a really successful offensive draft pick since they won the Super Bowl. On defense, Fili Moala and Jerry Hughes haven't exactly fixed the run defense, and Bob Sanders, one of the highest paid at his position, has been injured ever since he signed his new contract.

The Texans game was in some ways an anomaly. No one expects even a bad run defense to give up 231 yards and three touchdowns to a back making his first NFL start. It's hard to fight that, especially with Pierre Garcon finally acting like a Frenchman.

by jbrown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 3:43pm

Except that it wasn't his first NFL start...

by ammek :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:07pm

Garcon is from Haiti. I think you'll find that Haitians have been quite distinguishable from French people for a good few years.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 8:46pm

Foster started the last two games of 2009, and averaged 108 yards a game at 5.5 yards a carry, with three touchdowns. Ok, so one of those games was mostly against the Patriots' back-ups, but this isn't a total bolt from the blue.

by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 5:05pm

The more I see the Colts, the more they seem to be becoming a full-on one man team. Their running game is nonexistent, their offensive line is eroding, and they haven't produced an effective skill player in a long time. Their playcalling on 1st and 2nd down (when they actually run a set play) is often terrible (such as the counter-draws to Addai where Clark stays in to block the DE). The defense is still as good as the system, but has not evolved to the point where it can win a game on its own should the offense somehow falter. Sure, what a one man to have for a one-man-team!, but if something were to happen to Manning it wouldn't be surprising at all to see them go 0-16. Even if they had a decent backup QB, they would have to completely start over from scratch and rebuild their offensive philosophy, as it is so heavily reliant on Manning's genius about reading defenses in the passing game.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 9:00pm

Manning is truly, truly amazing, and it's a little unfair to call the Colts a one-man team, in that they have some other players who both add huge value to them with Manning healthy and would add huge value to any other team they played for - Freeney, Wayne, Clark, Mathis, and some others who are pretty damn useful - Bethea, Addai, Saturday, Bracket, and others too. I still think they'll win the division, and maybe even the Superbowl. The thing is, despite their strengths, their weaknesses are so extreme (and Curtis Painter so lousy) that I'm inclined to agree: if (God forbid, and I say this as a Texans fan) Manning went down for the season in the first quarter on Sunday, they really might go 0-16. Their schedule this season is tough, and even what I think is the one really bad team on it (Oakland) has a pretty effective running game. Any less-than-elite quarterback behind that line would get killed every play, however open Wayne and the rest might be downfield, and while the NFL may now be a passing league, a complete inability to stop the run is still a major problem. They'd better hope that more of the problem was just Charlie Johnson being unhealthy coupled with Mario Williams having one of his "on" days than appeared to me to be the case.

by harry (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 6:32pm

Usually the effects of a good coach linger a year or so after they leave (the post Parcell Pats, post Dungy Bucs, post Cowher Steelers). This year is really the first non-Dungy year for the Colts, we will find out if Caldwell is ready .

by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Tue, 09/14/2010 - 7:00pm

What I was amazed about from watching this game and watching the Colts in the playoffs is that they mostly don't seem to be offering anything new on offense or defense. It's still just Peyton going to the line, reading the defense, and throwing the ball around. The problem is that as good as Peyton is, it's made the Colts extremely predictable, and the Texan and Saint defense exploited this by allowing short passes and long drives while sitting back and waiting for big plays or a 3rd down misfire. On defense, the Colts are still running the Dungy gameplan of limiting big plays and relying on Peyton to force the other team into constant passing downs where Freeney and Mathis can attack. They tried one big blitz early in the 4th, and almost got burned but were bailed out by a slightly underthrown Schaub deep pass to an open Andre Johnson.

In essence, the only thing this Colts coaching staff seems to know how to do different is to simply introduce the occasional wacky play, like the big blitz I mentioned or the myriad questionable 1st and 2nd down offensive playcalls you're bound to see in a Colts game during quarters 1-3. They obviously don't need to completely overhaul a system that's been effective for them for so many years, but just imagine how much more effective Manning would be if the other team's defense didn't know what to expect, or if the Colts defense could dominate a game from the beginning instead of bend but don't break until late in the 4th when they hopefully have a lead. It was noted frequently on this site last year that even though the Colts were undefeated in games that mattered during the regular season, they were involved in a ton of close games. Going off their predictable gameplans, and the corresponding gameplans of their opponents, it is not a coincidence that a one-man-team would be involved in so many close games.

by Gray Jay (not verified) :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 10:49am

Any Given Sunday is now Insider-only? Delightful.

Since I can't read the article, does the article attempt to establish what was responsible for Houston's unprecedented display of O-line dominance? I mean, even their 2006 win that featured a lot of Texans' running and a very small number of possessions for both teams, didn't have drives like the one that opened up the 2nd half Sunday. I've never seen the Texans line up on a team, declare they were going to run the ball, and do it with the defense being completely unable to stop them. I'm curious as to whether I can expect this in future weeks, or whether it was due to the Colts' front 7 being older and slower, or just really missing Bob Sanders. Thanks.

Oh, and while it's still very early, this result is not helping me place a large amount of faith in FO's pre-season projections.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 11:56am

Actually, FO's preseason predictions were fantastic for week 1.

In my pick 'ems league I used the projected DVOA + 17% for home teams in almost every pick. This would have gotten 14 of 16 games right. I actually got 15 right, because I picked the Packers over the Eagles as well.

At this point (which is of course too early to make serious conclusions) it looks like Houston and maybe Indy are the only teams FO was really wrong about. Their predictions for the Cowboys, Redskins, Chiefs, Ravens, Jets, Chargers, and 49ers in particular are all looking very solid after week 1.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 12:30pm

I'm going to say I still suspect they're wrong about the Redskins, Chargers, Cardinals and Seahawks, and quite possibly the 49ers, Jets and Chiefs to boot. They probably would have been proven marginally wrong about the Lions had Stafford not got hurt. I don't care, of course, as long as they really are comprehensively wrong about the Texans.

by RickD :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 2:48pm

I found the prediction for the Chiefs to be particularly interesting, since pretty much nobody else out there liked the Chiefs at all. I'm not sure they're a playoff team, but they showed a lot of good things in their victory over the Chargers.

As for the Redskins and Cowboys, even though the Redskins won the game, the FO numbers claim that the Cowboys played better. It certainly seemed like the Redskins won a game they had little business winning. I don't quite think that they can win the division, as FO predicts.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 09/15/2010 - 9:54pm

1) AGS has been Insider-only since Week 1 of 2009.

2) ESPN has asked us to write this piece as forward-looking as possible, which means they don't want detailed tape review of a game that is, to their readers, old news. They don't want a look back at the Texans-Colts game; they want a big-picture look at the future of the Texans and the Colts.

The good news is that Doug Farrar did do a breakdown of the Texans' running game in this week's Cover-3. I highly recommend this. It's really quite phenomenal.

by drobviousso :: Thu, 09/16/2010 - 11:26pm

I'm an insider, so this is a paying customer complaint:

What they hell? Sound like they want Not Any Given Sunday. Classic example of taking something successful but unfamiliar, stripping away all the good bits, and turning it into another bland product.

But hey, they are the ones cutting the check, so you gotta produce what they are asking for.