Indianapolis Colts Football

Pagano talks the play of Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson’s progress and Bjoern Werner’s on radio show

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 17, 2013 – 8:59 am

With the regular season back in action, the Chuck Pagano show returns hosted by ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday nights.

Here’s some of the highlights from Pagano’s show following the team’s 25-3 win over the Houston Texans.

On earning a team win with a 25-3 victory over the Texans:

“Great team win. Having clinched the division, we said in these final three weeks, starting with the ballgame yesterday that we wanted to catch fire if you will, start trending in the right direction, get some momentum going, play a complete game and we did that in all three phases. Offense, we get off to a fast start finally, drove the length of the field, 11 plays, I think 80 yards scored a touchdown, great start. Defense came up big all day long. Special teams did a nice job. Adam (Vinatieri) was 3-for-3 I guess, a couple of extra points in the game. We got contributions from all three phases a bunch of players, guys that never played certain positions before and because of the way the work and the way they study and the expectations are, next man up, if they don’t believe it now, they will never believe it. Every one of those guys prepares as a starter.”

On the play of Andrew Luck on Sunday:

“We had the one hiccup there but he’s been doing a great job. His numbers show that. Andrew will tell you that the only thing that he really cares about first and foremost is the W and we did get that. He made good decisions, winning football, like always. He extended some plays, creating again. We’ve got to get him on the ground, maybe a little sooner (laughs) than he likes. He’s getting first downs, extending plays and doing a lot of great things for us.”

On Trent Richardson taking over the lead running back role with Donald Brown sidelined:

“You talk about practice and he’s practiced as well as anybody the last couple of weeks. His last couple of ball games, you can see the results of what he’s doing during the week, preparation wise. He’s becoming more comfortable terminology wise, with the scheme, with the guys in front of him, all those things. Again, it was great to see him have the production both running the football and the pass game yesterday. Certainly it’s doing wonders for his confidence and obviously helping our offense.”

On the Colts being 10-0 in back-to-back games under Chuck Pagano:

“I just think these guys are able to move on, win or lose. They are able to put the last game behind them, make corrections that you always have and stick to the process. It’s the next game. Stick to the process. Our guys do a great job of that. Our coaches do a great job of that. Our players do a great job of that. It’s a formula that’s obviously working and has worked so there’s no reason to get away from that.

On rookie Bjoern Werner getting his first full NFL sack and how he’s coming along:

“Absolutely, he played a good game yesterday. The last three weeks, he’s really played good football and gotten better each and every week. You go back and you talk about practice, he’s amped up his preparation, the way he’s studying, the way he’s becoming a pro. He was out for a while. He missed some time with an injury. That’s never easy. He’s a rookie. He’s young. He’s learning. He played with his hand in the dirt his whole career in college. Now he’s standing up, he’s dropping, he’s doing a whole bunch of different things. He’s getting more comfortable. He’s gaining confidence and yesterday he had his best outing to date. He did some great things so love where he’s at, the direction he’s heading.”


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Posted in Colts Blog, Colts Casey B, Colts Cheerleading, COLTS DAILY HEADLINES, Colts Photography, Colts.com Web Updates, Events and Promotions, Fan Feature, My Indiana Football, Voice of the Fans

Pagano talks the career-day for Andrew Luck and the development of Da’Rick Rogers on weekly radio show

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 10, 2013 – 9:47 am

With the regular season back in action, the Chuck Pagano show returns hosted by ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday nights.

Here’s some of the highlights from Pagano’s show following the team’s 42-28 loss against the Bengals

On Andrew Luck’s 326-yard and four-touchdown afternoon:

“He managed that ball game extremely well. He made a bunch of plays for us, not only with his arm but again with his legs. We’ve got to keep talking to him about when to slide (laughs), get out of bounds and those sort of things. He had an excellent outing and again, cold weather, indoors, outdoors, the guy is a football player. We know that.”

On the play of Trent Richardson (11 touches for 88 yards):

“It was good to see Trent have some positive things happen. Whether it was breaking a run outside, or some check downs, here and there, keep his balance on the one play. He runs hard, tough and physical so it was really good to see Trent have some positive things happen.”

On Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill earning more playing time:

“That’s a great question and an obvious answer. Yeah, they have. With only four receivers on the 53-man roster at this point and what they went out and did (Sunday), the production that they had, both guys made huge plays for us. We knew they had playmaking ability and they just needed opportunities. They took advantage of those opportunities and really helped us get back into that ball game. Moving forward, we look for more production and more playing time for both those guys.”

On the addition of veteran running back Tashard Choice:

“He is a veteran guy. He will bring veteran leadership to the locker room and to that running back room. He has carries in the National Football League. He’s got yards. He’s got touchdowns. He’s got receptions. We do hear from reliable sources that he’s a good guy, a really good guy, a good team guy, a really hard worker, all those things, adds character. As quick as we can get him in here, up to speed, play special teams. He does that stuff. Certainly he’ll lend a hand in that department. Coach Walker and those guys will get with him and get him up to speed.”

On the Houston Texans coming to Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend:

“They have a great roster. They’ve got a bunch of good football players as you know and everybody else knows. These guys are professional players. They understand what’s at stake. I fully expect and our team fully expects to get nothing but their best. We are going to have to be on point. We’ve got to worry about us. I’m counting on them coming in here and trying to win a football game. We will prepare accordingly.”


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Five Things Learned, Colts-Cincinnati

Posted by craigkelleycolts on December 9, 2013 – 9:46 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis won the AFC South title Sunday in a manner less-preferred than anyone wished.  The Colts fell behind by 21 points early in the second half at Cincinnati and rallied to make it a one-score affair before eventually losing, 42-28.  The Colts have three games left to hone their playoff approach.

 

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts’ 42-28 loss at Cincinnati was not made any more palatable when three hours later Tennessee lost at Denver to hand Indianapolis its eighth AFC South crown.

The Colts fell behind by 14 points at halftime, a margin that grew to 21 points before the offense roared to life.

Still, four touchdowns in the final 30 minutes could not rescue the day as Cincinnati grew its lead back to 21 before winning.

The Colts are in the playoffs.  Time remains to sharpen aspects of the approach in all three phases, and here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

PLAYOFFS GUARANTEED – The Colts are one of three teams (Denver, Seattle) to nail down a playoff berth, the only one to claim a division crown at this point.  That cannot be taken away, and it was the first goal the team had entering 2013.  “A division championship is a division championship any way you get it,” said Jim Irsay.  Said Robert Mathis, “I’m not going to sneeze at a division title.  We just have to work from here.”  Sure the team is not functioning at the level it seeks, but a ticket has been punched to play beyond 16 games.  That is an accomplishment.  Every other goal the team has still is in play.

EXECUTION IS ELIXIR – A scoreless first half with no third-down conversions in six attempts had the Colts in a halftime hole.  With five-of-40 third-down conversions in six games, it’s hard not to mention.  The Colts have had a first-half lead in only one of the last six games and have been out-scored, 114-24.  The combined deficit is 49-9 in the first quarter.  During the span, Indianapolis has 15 two- or three-and-outs on 37 possessions, with 16 total possessions not producing a first down.  Opponents have four three-and-outs in 34 possessions, with only five drives not yielding a first down.  The first-half time of possession disparity in the six games is 101:16 for opponents and 78:44 for the Colts.

HOPEFUL SPARK IS FOUND – Eight Colts receivers had first-half receptions at Cincinnati, but T.Y. Hilton was not among them.  Hilton was targeted five times in 46 Andrew Luck passes, and he did not catch a pass until 12 minutes remained in the game.  Da’Rick Rogers (six receptions, 107 yards) and LaVon Brazill (three-for-53) saw significant time, and each had two touchdown receptions.  Granted the tilted scoreboard created a higher number of passes than planned, still a team looking for a spark among receivers may have found one at Cincinnati.  Rogers is young and learning.  Brazill needs to make a push as his second year nears completion.  Yesterday’s production was a needed boost that needs to remain.  Each showed a physical nature that produced yards after the catch.

SERGIO BROWN IS SPECIAL – Sergio Brown has been among many bright spots for the Colts this year.  Every unit likes a go-to performer, and Brown has been that on coverage units.  With seven tackles, Brown is among club leaders.  He also has two fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal.  Twice against Denver, he downed punts deep in Broncos territory.  At Cincinnati, he downed a punt at the one and batted another back into play that was downed at the Bengals’ four.  Brown is a heads-up guy, a play waiting to happen.

STINGIER ON GROUND – Seven times this year the Colts have allowed 140-plus yards in a game.  Seven of the last nine opponents have rushed at least 30 times, each time topping 30 minutes possession time and but once not reaching a 4.0 average.  Cincinnati ran 35 times Sunday, netting 155 yards and a 4.4 average.  Where some games have had skewed rushing totals with quarterback scampers (Ryan Fitzpatrick had 54 of Tennessee’s 162 yards and eight of its 36 attempts a week ago), yesterday was not one of them.  Five times in the last eight games an opponent had at least 33:55 possession time.  Opponents’ rushing production is a factor in the time of possession, and it creates added pressure on the other team to maximize its opportunities.


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Da’Rick Rogers expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 27, 2013 – 2:51 pm

Over the past few weeks, Colts fans attention on the status of Da’Rick Rogers rivals that of any player on the team.

Fans are clamoring to find out when the ultra talented Rogers will make his NFL debut.temp2013_1120_Prac_0960--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Could it be this weekend for the rookie wide receiver?

“I would venture to say that’s a good probability,” Chuck Pagano said on Wednesday when asked if the four current receivers on the 53-man roster will be active this weekend.

The enthrallment in Rogers stems from him leading the SEC with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards during his 2011 season at Tennessee.

Off the field issues caused Rogers to go undrafted this past April but it appears he’s beginning to realize that the clock is ticking on his chances.

“I’ve been doing everything Coach Pagano has asked of me and a little more,” Rogers said on Wednesday. “Coming in early, staying late, putting in the extra work I need to get acclimated from the offense, letting these guys know I’m here learning and helping the team out.”

Pagano talked about that acclimation period that players go through when making the move from a practice squad (where they are mostly scout team players during practice) to the 53-man roster (where they are actually running the Colts playbook at practice).

Now, it’s extended reps with Andrew Luck and the Colts quarterback likes what he sees from the 6-3, 215-pound Rogers.

“He’s been doing a great job, focused, done a great job learning the playbook so I’m excited for him and excited about him,” Luck said.

And Pagano’s thoughts on Rogers?

“Now he’s at a point where he’s picked things up and we are going to put him out there and give it a shot,” Pagano said of Rogers.

“He’s a big, athletic, talented guy. He’s put in the time, been here early, stays late so I’m fully confident that the kid can go out there and make a play for us.””

Rogers knows the Colts are searching for some production from a receiver not named and T.Y. Hilton and the rookie is relishing the chance to make an impact.

“Coach Pagano has put that pressure on us. “That pressure makes dominance so just go out there and do what you go to do,” Rogers said.

“It’s football. It’s a child’s game and we just got to go out and execute.”


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Andrew Luck Checks in After 11 Games

Posted by craigkelleycolts on November 26, 2013 – 8:55 am

Andrew Luck made an appearance on the NFL Network on Monday, the day after the Colts’ 40-11 loss at Arizona left them at 7-4.

The Colts maintain a two-game lead on Tennessee in the AFC South chase and host the Titans on Sunday in a key contest.

A victory Sunday and one in one of the remaining four games (at Cincinnati, vs. Houston, at Kansas City, vs. Jacksonville) would hand the Colts their eighth AFC South crown and the first since 2010.

Luck weighed in on some questions surrounding the club:

  • On reasons Indianapolis has fallen behind in the first halves of the last four games:

“A myriad of factors but really at the end of the day it’s lack of execution. Credit to the other teams as well, but we’re not handling our business; I know from the offensive perspective, I’m not doing a good enough job getting completions, getting first downs, getting drives together which usually end up in points if you can get some first downs. So lack of execution and we’re working on it. Guys are anxious and excited to get back on the practice field and work on it. We understand you can’t survive your mistakes forever, as evident by this past weekend [against Arizona], so we’ll keep working on it.”

  • On what are the biggest issues facing the Colts moving forward:

“Again, it’s lack of execution. The slow start [against Arizona] definitely hurt; I know I need to pick my game up, I know everybody else in the locker room feels the same way. It’s one guy here, and the next play maybe it’s another guy, the next play it’s another guy. We all just have to get back on the same page and get back on the practice field and work at it.”

  • On if the game plan is to get Trent Richardson and Donald Brown involved a little bit more with wide receiver Reggie Wayne out for the rest of the season:

“I think with Reggie [Wayne] out it’s an opportunity for a lot of guys, not just the running backs, but our wideouts, tight ends to get involved. We know when we’ve been successful we’ve been able to run the football. Last weekend we didn’t do a great job of running the football, and a lot of that falls on me to make sure we’re getting in the right play. So we know when Trent’s rolling, when Donald Brown is rolling, that usually means our team is rolling.”

  • On how big this weekend’s game against the Tennessee Titans is:

“It’s huge. In my short career so far, I’ve realized that every game is huge in the NFL, especially when it’s a division game at home against a salty, good team in Tennessee. It’s always fun to play them because we know it’s going to be a heavyweight fight.”

KELLEY’S VIEW:  The mood of the fans is of understandable concern, but they should be heartened by the ability of the team to respond to challenges.  Four games without Reggie Wayne have added to the difficulty of competing, but a time-tested process is in place that will work with accompanying execution.  It’s not a very popular answer, but it is the appropriate one.

There are 52 players on the roster in addition to Luck.  Each player needs to do his part (Luck and many are), and it’s good to hear leaders pointing toward themselves in saying they must produce at their highest individual level.

The margin of error shrunk a little with the Arizona loss, but no goals have been lost.  The team controls its own destiny.

While the Colts have beaten Tennessee nine of the last 10, half have been by one-score margins.  The last three have included comebacks.

It will be an exciting day in the stadium.  Players want to atone for a 38-8 loss in their last home appearance.  Tennessee is one of six teams at 5-6, and they harbor legitimate post-season hopes.


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Andrew Luck talks Reggie Wayne, the young receivers and Trent Richardson

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 22, 2013 – 10:00 am

Andrew Luck was a guest of Reggie Wayne’s earlier this week on the “Query and Schultz Show” in Indianapolis.

While Wayne joined the show for the first time since his injury, Luck was making his debut.

Here are some of Luck’s highlights from the show:

On having Reggie Wayne back for the Houston game and now in the building:

“I don’t think he could survive sitting at home, watching the guys play without him. His drive and his motivation, even being hurt, he’s still such a locker room presence, still such a voice for the team. I think we wanted him back. Obviously, Mr. Irsay made it happen with whatever strings he pulled. I was very happy to see Reggie walk into the team meeting the night before the game and give us some words and it means a lot when he’s here. It really does.”

On Wayne’s presence now around the complex:

“You can tell he’s taken on more of a coaching role in a sense and breaking it down for T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill or the other guys, or helping (Coby) Fleener out with releases. He’s still incredibly actively involved because again he’s still apart of the Colts fabric. I can’t imagine the Colts without Reggie Wayne. You just don’t imagine it, so I’m thankful he’s around.”

On how the Colts offense is adjusting to life without Wayne:

“It’s definitely a transition. I think what I always admired about Reggie was third down he made a play. When you needed to make a play in the fourth quarter he was open, you needed a two-minute drive, Reggie was getting open. So to lose that safety net, if you will, is different. But I’ve been really impressed with how the other receivers, tight ends, have approached it as a challenge as the guy that gets open on a big third down.”

On Trent Richardson:

“I think he’s done great and I think it’s unfair the flak that he’s been catching from folks. They don’t understand what he’s doing protection wise, what he’s doing coming out of the backfield and how tough it is to switch teams midseason. He’s in Cleveland on a Wednesday then he’s in Indianapolis on a Thursday preparing for third down against another team. Never seen a playbook before, new teammates, new everything. I think the way he’s been able to adjust has been great. He’s a smart, smart football player. He’s a great football player. I think it will be a short amount of time before people get their heads around that.”


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Posted in Colts Blog, Colts Casey B

Mo’ Better (Visits) Blue(s)

Posted by craigkelleycolts on November 15, 2013 – 3:33 pm

Down 17-3 and having been out-scored 69-6 in the first halves of the last three games, the Colts captured something that led to another comeback win, this time at Tennessee, 30-27.

That something was ‘Mo’ – momentum.

It started on a 68-yard drive in the final 2:32 of the first half when the Colts navigated for an Adam Vinatieri 30-yard field goal at the gun.

Andrew Luck found rhythm (a cousin of ‘Mo’) on the drive by connecting with six different receivers on the march, good for 62 yards.  A third-down interference call extended the drive early on – ‘Mo.’

“You can feel it,” said Luck.  “We wish we didn’t have to rely on momentum to do that, but it’s a part of sports.  It’s a weird phenomenon.  You could feel it.”

An 18-year veteran, Vinatieri can sense intangibles, and he felt it when the club narrowed its halftime deficit to 17-6.

“It was important to get the momentum back,” said Vinatieri.  “To put it back to 11 for some reason feels better.”

The Colts shaved the margin closer with a 74-yard march where Luck converted third downs with passes to T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen.  He even scrambled 13 yards for a first down.

To close the final 14 yards of the march, Luck connected with Hilton for eight yards, then Donald Brown burst off left tackle for the score.

“You kind of feel it,” said Hilton.  “We’ve been down that road time and time again.  Once we start to click……”

The ball came out on the ensuing kickoff return and special teamer Daniel Herron made a play.

“The wedge was coming to me,” said Herron.  “The next thing I know, I turned around and the ball was right there.  Right place, right time.”

Pat Angerer notice how ‘Mo’ visited a number of teammates.

“Yeah, it’s just one guy making a play after another,” said Angerer.  “We never get down.”

Be it Luck, luck, the horseshoe or ‘Mo,’ it’s better to have than not.

“Credit these guys,” said Chuck Pagano.  “They find a way.  We just gained momentum and held on.”

 


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Colts “Newcomer of the Week” Titans Edition…

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 1:30 pm

Throughout the course of the season, Colts.com will run a “Newcomer of the Week” following each regular season game. With the Colts having an influx of the newcomers this season here’s a look at the “Newcomer of the Week” from Tennessee.

This week’s “Newcomer of the Week” comes in a combo effort on the Colts offensive line.

Free agent right tackle Gosder Cherilus and rookie left guard Hugh Thornton helped pave the way for a 137-yard effort on 32 carries Thursday night.

The Colts are now 11-0 when rushing at least 30 times since the beginning of the 2012 season.

Chuck Pagano summed it up pretty directly when describing the offensive line’s mindset heading into Nashville.

“They took this personal,” Pagano said of the offensive line.

For a majority of the season, the Colts offensive line has been under heavy scrutiny.

Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton has not wavered in his belief of the Colts rushing attack and games like Thursday night are the reason why he has faith in the ground game.

The unit helped pave massive holes in the second half with the Colts rushing for over 100 yards for the seventh time this season.

“What a great job up front by the o-linemen,” quarterback Andrew Luck said after the game. “Staney Havili, the tight ends, Trent [Richardson] and Donald [Brown] getting tough, tough yards. We know to win football games consistently we are going to have to run the football well. We did a decent job in the first half. I think the game sort of dictated that we couldn’t run it as much as we wanted, but I think it was great to settle down and to get points at the end of the half and to start the second half with points was big.

“To get that run game going, and that last drive, what a great job. It’s tough in the fourth quarter for o-linemen when you continually pound and pound and pull and block and hit. They did a heck of a job.

Other Newcomers of Note:

Running back Daniel Herron was in the right place at the right time when he pounced on a fumbled kickoff return midway through the third quarter. The turnover gave the Colts the ball at the Titans 20-yard line.

Outside linebacker Erik Walden bounced back from a foolish first half penalty to record four tackles (two for a loss) and had a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois sniffed out a second-half screen pass for a tackle for loss, which forced a Titans field goal attempt.


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Five Things Learned, St. Louis-Colts

Posted by craigkelleycolts on November 11, 2013 – 9:31 am

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Intro:  Indianapolis suffered a 38-8 setback to the Rams, the first-ever NFL game that ended by that score and the club’s largest-margin loss of the season.  Here are Five Things Learned from Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are 6-3 and lead the AFC South by two games, but the game that dropped Indianapolis from two to three losses was a 38-8 home defeat to St. Louis.

The Rams scored touchdowns offensively, defensively and on special teams before the game was 20 minutes old.  Indianapolis was not able to get on track the rest of the day.

The Colts have four days to rebound in facing Tennessee in Nashville on Thursday Night Football.  The Titans are 4-5 and are the Colts’ nearest divisional competitor.

Here are FIVE THINGS LEARNED.

COMEBACKS NOT THE BLUEPRINT – During the week, Andrew Luck said the Colts would not be able to survive their mistakes forever.  Miscues in every phase of the game put the Colts behind by three touchdowns before 20 minutes ticked off the clock.  Twice under Luck and Chuck Pagano, the Colts have rallied from 18-point deficits to win.  The franchise record for the largest deficit overcome is 21 points on four occasions.  No one wants this scenario, and Luck likely would prefer that an 11th comeback win in late, dramatic fashion doesn’t happen any time soon.  Early execution can avoid these deficits.  It has not been a consistent part of this team’s DNA, but it doesn’t mean it cannot become so going forward.

EFFORT NOT ISSUE – Pagano made clear his team battled for 60 minutes Sunday, though the field was tilted heavily against it quickly.  He is correct.  The team will not give up its fight.  Improving the techniques, fundamentals and communication can yield the desired results.  Pagano has a “process” instilled in this team.  He told it Sunday to give credit where it is due – to the Rams – then put the game behind it and move on.  It’s the only approach.  Dismissing problems is not done in Pagano’s program.  Correcting ills is the tactic.  It starts today and will be on display again Thursday in Nashville.

PROTECTION IMPROVEMENT – St. Louis was the NFL’s top team with one quarterback sack per 9.8 attempts, and Indianapolis knew this going in.  In less than three minutes clock time, Luck suffered a sack-strip-touchdown.  The Colts knew going in protection was a premium.  Luck had been taken down four times among 11 hits at Houston.  Sunday was three more sacks and seven hits.  A team with an elite quarterback like Luck is going to have protect their asset with schemes, chips and protection from backs.  Anthony Castonzo said there was a misjudgment in protection on that first play.  Pagano stressed execution is the issue.  In seven remaining games, the target is for marked improvement in this area.

WINNING FIELD POSITION – Putting pressure on an opponent can be helped by winning the field position edge.  St. Louis clearly did so in the first half Sunday, averaging its five-possession half with a start point at its 40.  Indianapolis had seven possessions in the half with an average start at its 15-yard line.  The Colts had six punts and turnover.  Indianapolis did not start a drive outside its 35 until St. Louis had scored all its points.  Kickoff returns netted the Colts starts at their 35, 7, 7, 20, 13, 13 and 20.  Field position is not an intangible among statistics.

RED ZONE/THIRD DOWNS – The Colts did not convert a third down at Houston until the third quarter and then not until their eighth attempt.  For the game, they were four-of-13.  The Colts were one-for-eight Sunday against St. Louis in the opening half and two-for-12 for the game.  Extending drives lies in execution and staying in manageable situations.  The club has converted 13 of its last 52 third downs over four games, a total that needs juicing.  A heavily-tilted scoreboard took the Colts out of typical game situations and precipitated aggressive play calls.  Indianapolis scored on one-of-five red zone chances against St. Louis.  Entering the game, the Colts were 11th in the NFL in TD percentage in the red zone with 15 TDs in 25 trips (60%).  Prior to Sunday, Indianapolis had not failed to score in the red zone (25 trips, 15 TDs/10 FGs).  It was the NFL’s only perfect red zone scoring percentage.  The club now is tied-for-17th with 16 TDs in 30 trips, and its total red zone scoring percentage is 86.7.


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Will Hilton and Whalen continue to receive the bulk of third-down targets?

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 6, 2013 – 9:41 am

Reggie Wayne’s loss has been analyzed in about every aspect.

One of the main areas that people focused on with Wayne’s loss is where Andrew Luck would turn to on third-down.

It’s no secret Wayne was Luck’s “security blanket” and the Colts signal caller would have to look elsewhere to sustain drives.

The Colts had 13 third downs on Sunday with Luck dropping back to pass on 12 of those occasions (Luck had 11 pass attempts, was sacked once and Donald Brown had one rush attempt).

Against the league’s top pass defense, Luck was 5-of-11 for 50 yards (4 first downs) and a touchdown on third-down. He had an 89.2 quarterback rating on third-down.

Here’s a breakdown of those attempts:

  • T.Y. Hilton’s targets-Hilton was the most frequent target on third-down with five targets including two second-half completions (one that went for a 10-yard touchdown). Hilton bounced back from an early drop with some important catches down the stretch and one would have to imagine the defensive attention will only increase towards No. 13 on the third downs.
  • Griff Whalen’s targets-Whalen was similar to Hilton in his number of targets on third-down with Luck turning towards his college roommate in times of duress. Whalen’s 17-yard catch on the eventual game winning touchdown drive came from a clean pocket for Luck. Whalen was lined up on Houston’s nickel cornerback on many third downs, another reason for his four targets on those downs.
  • Other targets-Luck only targeted Darrius Heyward-Bey once (DHB missed the entire 4th quarter due to injury) and many other times Luck was under intense pressure which forced some balls into crowded coverage. Moving forward, the attention that Hilton receives from opposing defenses will greatly impact the targets for Coby Fleener and DHB on third-down.

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