Week 4 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 31, Tennessee Titans 10
What you need to know
Marvin Harrison played with a cast on his left wrist. It had no effect on his game when catching the ball to his left, but he did struggle some when having to turn his body to the right to make the catch. Harrison was the Coltsí offense in the air this week. He was unstoppable.
In the first three weeks of the season, opposing teams were successful against the Colts using a five DB back field. This time the Colts countered with a two TE formation throughout the game with TE Dallas Clark in the slot. This formation cost Brandon Stokley much of his playing time, and he was rarely even on the field much less available to the offensive attack. Should this pattern of the defense employing five defensive backs where the Colts run a two TE set continue, WR Brandon Stokley might very well be an after thought on the season. This is certainly something to watch.
Manning looked like the QB we watched last season, moving the ball with ease to his TEs and Marvin Harrison. The offense completely focused on Harrison down field, and then combinations of TEs underneath. Outside of Harrison, no other WR was looked at or really used in the offense with Reggie Wayne being the only other WR to even catch a ball (although one of his two receptions was for a TD).
RB Edgerrin James should have posted a good deal more fantasy points on the game. Starting at the Titanís nine yard line, James had two straight carries to the Titansí one yard line. On the very next carry from the one, James lost a yard, resulting in a FG. That was three back to back carries inside the Titansí ten yard line. James also lost a nine yard carry in the game on a tripping penalty against Center Jeff Saturday. Should James have punched in that touchdown, or at least not lost a yard at the Titanís one, and then not lost the nine yards to a penalty, he would have not only had a rushing score, but broken the 100 yard rushing mark on the day.
The Titans played a lot of five defensive back sets challenging the Colts to use shorter options, which is exactly what the Colts did. The Titanís defense allowed the Coltsí TEs to make gains all day, letting Manning move the ball with ease which in turn opened up WR Marvin Harrison down field.
RB Chris Brown started the game well with a number of solid gains. As the game wore on, Brown hit a wall, and was entirely ineffective. Opening the second half, Brown carried the ball twice where both runs were for one yard lost, and then he didnít carry the ball again for the rest of the game as the Titans went to QB Steve McNair to move the ball on the ground. In what could have been a pivotal play for both Brown and the Titans, Brown had a six yard carry from the Coltsí eight yard line to the Coltsí two yard line called back on a holding penalty on Titanís RG Benji Olson.
When a Fantasy Owner looks at the box score, he is going to see that RB Chris Brown carried the ball 10 times for 31 yards, while the son of Walter Payton Ė Rookie RB Jarrett Payton carried the ball four times for 37 yards. Although Payton may be something down the road, do not let this stat line fool you into believing something special happened here. With the game completely lost, and the Coltsí defense in 7-8 man prevent in the final seconds of the game, Payton took four straight carries for long gains against zero coverage in garbage time.
What you ought to know
|QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 20 - 27 - 264 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
Manning looked like the QB we saw in the 2004 season. With the successes of opposing teams in the last few weeks using five defensive backs, the Titans opened the game in the same set. This time the Colts were prepared employing a two TE set throughout the game with Dallas Clark lining up in the slot. Manning was easily able to continue to move the ball to TEs Clark and Fletcher, forcing the defense to move back in to guard them. At that point, Manning lit up the field concentrating on Marvin Harrison. Manning received very little pressure (facing maybe four blitzes on the game) with the Titans concentrating on the deep passing lanes and was able to pick apart the shorter end of the field with ease.
Not wanting to have a hangover performance from the week before's victory over the 49ers, but realizing it was the Jaguars they were playing, Pep Hamilton kept the gameplan pretty basic for #12. He saw himself under center for most of the game, and wasn't testing the Jaguars secondary deep at all- with his longest completions being 31 yards and both of them had YAC to make them that long. Luck wasn't shy about using his legs this game however: had a couple rushes, one of which was a 17 yarder on 3rd down that eventually led to the team's first TD. He threw an INT in this game off a tipped ball that was sort of forced on his part, and actually would've thrown a 2nd but there was a defensive penalty that offset it. His first TD pass, a nice play action pass to Coby Fleener, had the defense stunted on the fake handoff leaving Fleener free to roam, so free that he had no defender within a 10-yard vicinity when he caught it, allowing him to jog his way into the end zone. Luck would've had a second TD earlier than he did when he found Wayne in the back of the end zone on a play he totally kept alive with his feet, that throw was brought back due to a hands to the face penalty. He did end up throwing a second TD, to Wayne incidentally, on a slant route inside the 10, where he just waited for Wayne to break and found him rather open once he did. An easy display of pitch and catch for six. There was also a point starting in the 3rd quarter and extending to the 4th where Luck had completed eight straight passes. Luck found himself throwing mostly under crossing routes because that's what was there; against the Jaguars you don't have to force much to beat them, and with that mindset is how Luck played and it was rather successful from the get-go.
With the Titans geared to stop the long down field pass, James once again had a great outing. James ran easily against the Titansí defensive front. He wasnít very active in the passing attack with the Colts looking for TEs for the short gains, but he did pick up another 14 yards in the air. James should have had a good deal more fantasy points on the day. First he had three straight carries from the Titansí nine yard line where he not only lost a yard on one of his carries, but failed to punch in the score. Secondly he lost a nine yard run called back on a penalty. James was easily in position, and should have scored a rushing touch down. If nothing else give him back the lost yard at the Titansí one where he should have scored and the lost nine yard run and he hits 100 yards on the day.
|RB Ran Carthon, Rush: 4 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)|
Carthon did get four carries on the day. One of those carries was for seven yards, and the other three netted a total of zero yards. Additionally, three of Carthonís carries came at the end of the game with the outcome clearly a Coltsí victory. On the Coltsí last drive of the game, Carthon carried the ball three straight times in the middle of the field resulting in basically nothing. He did have a reception for ten yards. The most influential thing Carthon did on the day was fumble the opening kickoff.
It was tough sledding on the ground for the Colts all day, but Bradshaw still finished with the Coltsí best yard-per-carry average of the day with 3.6. The Colts are keeping Bradshawís usage down for now, and he only had nine carries in this one, but his red zone use and dependability in the passing game keeps him alive as a flex option. Bradshaw once again caught a touchdown pass, which included powering through an initial tackle attempt and outracing the defenders to the end zone on a 15-yard score. As long as he stays healthy, which the Colts have as a top priority, heíll continue to be efficient.
He looked lost when he was on the field. He is not ready to become an integral part of the offense in Indy and perhaps never.
Rhodes averaged five yards on his 15 carries and had a six yard touchdown run for the Coltsí first score. The 75 yards represent his season high so far. Rhodes had the carries on the final four plays of the Coltsí field goal drive early in the fourth quarter. He gained 16 and six yards to get to the Jetsí one yard line on the first two runs. He was stopped twice at the one yard line, however. Rhodes did not get any attempts on Indianapolisí final two drives.
Everyone analyst you could find was tagging this game as Trent's coming out party as a Colt, and while he did find paydirt, that was about the only positive note on his afternoon. It was obvious that the Jaguars were going to make it a point that Trent wasn't going to run wild on them, as RBs usually do against this defense. Richardson was the bell cow like they said he would be, however his 3.0 YPC line will make fantasy owners scratch their heads. His TD run came on the goal line and he scored rather easily on his first try, taking it off tackle to the left. There wasn't much room up the middle for Trent this game, with most of his "successful" runs coming on tosses or stretch plays to the outside. Being one of the hardest runners in the game, Richardson displayed that notion this game, always churning for those extra couple yards. It almost actually hurt him as on one play he was fighting for an extra few and he ended up fumbling- however a false whistle was blown while he was being stripped so the fumble didn't count and the down was just replayed. His best looking run came on a nine yard rush where you saw his burst through the line, he made a quick cut, making a guy missed, and carried another for a few yards- wasn't anything special but it was a friendly reminder of the type of talent the guy has. He ran it 20 times, he just didn't have much room to make anything of them as you can tell he's still feeling out his new offensive line and the blocking scheme installed in Indy.
Harrison played with a cast on his left wrist. This seemed to have zero effect when he had to turn his body to the left to make the reception. When Harrison turned his body to the right to make the reception he did struggle a little with the ball. Harrison has never been a receiver that relied on his hands, making more of a body catch, so it was not a huge issue, but it was something that held him back on the right side of the field in out patterns. On the game, Harrison was the passing offense. Manning zoned in on him shortly after the game opened. The Titans opened in a five defensive back set that the Coltsí opponents have had great success with so far this season. The Colts responded with a two TE set attack, bringing the Titansí defenders back into the short field. From there, Harrison put on a receiving display, picking up the offense, finding ways to get open, running past defenders, and making them miss. Harrison controlled this game shortly after kickoff.
Wayne caught a 25 yard touch down strike on the opening drive of the game. That 25 yard catch was one third of his total targets in the game, one half of his total receptions, and over one half of his total yards. Manning concentrated on Harrison and Dallas Clark throughout the game, often not even looking for Wayne as the game progressed. The touchdown that Wayne brought in on the opening drive was blown coverage on the part of the Titansí defense. Titansí DB Adam ďPacmanĒ Jones was playing man to man on Wayne, and SS Tank Williams was supposed to roll over for the deep coverage. Williams bit on the center of the field; ďPacmanĒ Jones couldnít keep up with Wayne, who easily got behind him for the score.
Stokley did get on the field for a few plays, but was never thrown to ending the day with zero targets. The Colts played a lot of two TE sets with Clark in the slot where Stokley usually plays. This is definitely an alarming change for Stokley owners. Itís to be seen whether teams continue to force Indianapolis into the two TE sets but if they do, expect similar opportunities to what he saw this game.
With this game being in control practically the whole time, there wasn't need for TY's big play, stretch the field skills that he so often displays- Hilton was used far more in crossing routes and quick under the secondary passes, as his 9.6 YPC would show. He was targeted early on as he had three catches before the first quarter even ended. Second on the team in targets as well shows he was a part of the gameplan, just not in the way he's became known for. He did muff a punt once, however was quick to fall on it before any defenders could. Hilton's up and down statistical season continued today but it's worth noting that Luck is looking his way on the shorter routes, the ones that DHB was taking from him earlier in the season.
Every time the rookie is on the field, good things happen for Indianapolis. He caught both targets on Sunday, taking one 10 yards for a first down and another short pass for four yards. Moncrief also had the lead block on Ahmad Bradshawís 15-yard touchdown reception, and continues to impress in all areas. He wonít be a viable fantasy play until the Colts put him on the field more often, but if he keeps playing this well, that may be sooner rather than later. Donít forget, all three of the receivers ahead of him have significant injury risk.
Helping to pick up the slack of the injured Marvin Harrison, Aaron Moorehead was able to register one catch for five yards. With the Colts running the ball in the second half, Moorehead was used mostly as a perimeter blocker.
Once again the third wheel to Hilton and Wayne, Nicks is relegated to a lot of low-percentage attempts: deep balls over the top, fades in the red zone, etc. Unless somebody else gets hurt, Nicksí fantasy production is going to be dependent on one of those deep balls connecting and occasional red zone touchdowns. On the positive side, Nicks did beat the corner on one of those deep balls Sunday, but a defensive pass interference kept the play from landing. Still, it was a win for the Coltsí offense, even if it doesnít show up on the stat sheet.
All of his targets came in the 2nd half of the football game. He was the 5th option after Wayne, Clark, Collie, and Addai. He has a long way to go but on a team like Indy he is going to have more opportunities than he would on another team that doesnít pass as much. The Colts need to get Garcon back who will add another element to their passing game that White simply doesnít have right now.
Clark caught two passes in each half. Clarkís first reception in the first half was on third and long with a blitz coming where Manning found him for a nice gain under pressure. His second first half reception was also with eight in the box and Manning under pressure. Clark was an early look throughout the first half, and was certainly a vital cog in the offense. In the second half, Manning only really even looked for Harrison as his first option, and then Clark as his rarely used second option, virtually ignoring every other Coltsí receiver on the field.
Fletcher was thrown to in the first half, but was not looked to once in the second half. Fletcher caught a pass in the Coltsí opening drive, was targeted in the second drive, and caught his last pass of the day just before halftime.
Allen continues to be one of Luckís most dependable targets, catching passes in traffic as well as any of the Coltsí pass-catchers. Allen now has caught a touchdown pass in three of the Coltsí four games, as Pep Hamiltonís system has placed a priority on the position near the goal line. Andrew Luck has thrown 10 of his league-leading 13 touchdown passes to tight ends or running backs, and so far, Allen is benefitting. There are so many weapons for Luck to choose from, Allen will never be higher than third on the priority list, but with red zone opportunities come touchdowns.
With the TE being a focal point in this offense, and with no Dwayne Allen for the rest of the season, Fleener is seeing a lot of action- as a receiver but also as a blocker. For someone who wasn't touted out of college as a solid blocker, he's making the best of efforts to prove that wrong as Trent Richardson's successful runs came on outside runs, most of the time to Fleener's side where he was holding his own on the edge. What he's really known for is his athleticism and his hands, both of which were shown off in this game; Luck was looking his way early and often as a check down option when all else failed. Fleener did haul in a TD pass- a 31 yarder off a play fake from Luck that because the fake was sold so well, Fleener was left to run open and when he caught it, there wasn't a defender anywhere near him to make his trot to the end zone difficult. Coby also had a great third down conversion catch that got the Colts inside the 5 and ultimately led to the take-the-first-team-out clinching TD.
Vanderjagt kicked a 20 yard FG, and added four extra points.
The Coltsí rush defense absolutely in every way took Chris Brown out of the game by the second half. Brown started the game well, picking up a number of solid runs for gains. As the first half came to a close, Brown was gaining less and less on every carry, with the defense swarming him at the line of scrimmage. Brown opened the second half with 2 carries for a loss of a yard each, and wasnít given the ball again. The Colts took him entirely out of the game. QB Steve McNair took over the rushing duties for the Titans, and did have some success around the corners.
The Titans played five in the defensive backfield for most of the game. Opening the game with the bulk of the defense deep to take away the pass, the Titans were able to make reception after reception to their TEs underneath, where the Colts speed on defense would close the gap for a short gain. WR Drew Bennett was double and triple teamed all game, and completely taken out of the offense.
|QB Steve McNair, Pass: 28 - 37 - 220 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 40 - 0|
The Titans opened with two and three TE sets running the ball with Chris Brown. McNair took advantage of this set using his TEs very successfully to move the ball down the field. 64% of McNairís completed receptions for the entire game went to his TEs. (20 of 36 total targets went to TEs). With RB Chris Brown entirely taken out of the game in the second half, McNair became the teamís primary rusher, taking the ball on the ground outside the corners with good success. He did lose 28 yards on a pass to Drew Bennett that was ruled complete initially and then reversed after review.
Jake Locker was 0 for 2 as a passer before being injured on the Titans' second offensive series. Locker apparently has a separated left shoulder, which is the same injury he suffered in week 1. Early reports are that this injury is more serious than the prior separation. He was injured on a bone jarring sack that resulted in a fumble that was not called.
Mettenberger came in during the fourth quarter when the game had been decided. He missed his first throw badly down the seam to Nate Washington, but followed it up with a perfectly placed ball to Justin Hunter on a deep curl route. In his regular season debut, Mettenberger's lack of accuracy showed up. He followed up that lone accurate throw to Hunter with a missed throw on third down before throwing a bad interception on the following drive.
Whitehurst was starting for the injured Jake Locker. He made a very good start to the game, but his receivers repeatedly let him down by not making plays on the ball. Whitehurst struggled somewhat in the pocket and with his accuracy through the game as a whole, but for the most part he proved to be an adequate replacement for Locker. He would have been aided by better play calling as the Titans continue to neglect their running game.
|RB Chris Brown, Rush: 10 - 31 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (2 targets)|
Brown had eight of his ten carries in the first half, looking strong to open the game. He finished the first half respectfully, but hit a wall in the second. Starting in the second half, Brown carried the ball twice, both for one yard losses. At this point, the Titans were only down by two touchdowns and seemingly in the game. After his last two carries for negative yards, Brown never carried the ball again, with QB Steve McNair just taking over the rushing duties for the team. Brown did stay in the game, catching two passes in the second half, both for good gains. In what could have been a pivotal play for both Brown and the Titans, Brown had a six yard carry to the Coltsí two yard line called back on a holding penalty on Titanís RG Benji Olson.
Walter Paytonís son was activated for the game, and promoted to the teamís second string RB behind Chris Brown. Payton saw no action of any kind throughout the game until total garbage time on the Titansí last series. With the outcome of the game solidly a Titansí loss, Payton took four straight carries for 37 yards gained against a Coltsí defense playing six and seven man deep prevent. There isnít a backup in the league that needs to be more ready than the #2 Titans RB though so watch this young man very closely.
Fleming had one reception early in the game, and was not an offensive factor.
Battle was barely used in the first half but came in for Johnson often in the second as the Titans played with a big lead. His numbers suggest that he played much better than Johnson, but those numbers are warped by one big 20 yard run late in the fourth quarter when the Jets were overaggressive on defense. Battle was able to escape outside left tackle when the Titans pulled offensive linemen from the other side, but he showed very little explosion in the open field. Battle is playing well this season, but don't expect him to take over Johnson's starting role any time soon.
Greene continues to be the starter for the Titans. In a sense, Greene is both used too much and not used enough. He is used too much because he doesn't appear to be as effective as Sankey when he gets the ball. He is not used enough because he is still effective when he is on the field and the Titans insist on throwing the ball too much.
McCluster wasn't featured much on offense. He received a few touches in the first half, but he couldn't find space to work in as his lack of vision showed up.
Ringerís numbers look good, but are somewhat misleading. His
big 54 yard run was aided by perfect blocking and execution, leading
to a hole so large it would make Chris Johnson jealous immediately. He
did little else in the game and was too hampered by the same things as
Johnson on the ground but with a much lighter workload.
Shonn Greene doesn't have the physical talent to take advantage of the space he can find. Dexter McCluster doesn't have the vision to find the space that his physical talent can take advantage of. Bishop Sankey has both, yet he is still being held back by his coaching staff. Sankey was sidelined for most of the first half, before coming in and impressive again against the Colts defense. This script is being read aloud every week for the Titans coaching staff, but they continue to be deaf.
With the Colts playing five defensive backs to open the game along with double and triple teaming Drew Bennett, Jones was able to make some gains in the first half. All three of his targets came in the first half. Jones showed athleticism, hustle, and heads up play as one of the bright spots of the offense in the first half. With the Titans down in the second half and throwing the ball on every play, Jones was surprisingly rarely even on the field. Jones did carry the ball around the left end for a yard gain.
The Colts played a lot of five deep in the backfield, concentrating on shutting down Bennett. With Bennett double teamed all game long; he had a total of two receptions and was not a factor in the game. The Colts were very successful with their game plan to remove Bennett from the offense. Bennett did have a 28 yard completion taken away from him after the play was reviewed and then changed to an incomplete pass.
With the Titans throwing the ball on almost every single play in the second half, Williams came into the game after not taking the field in the first half. He made two nice receptions against single coverage with very little pressure on him.
Calicoís single reception was a nine yard gain to the Coltsí 37 yard line. Both targets came in the second half, as the Titans were throwing the ball on every play trying to get back in the game. Calico was not a factor in the game.
While Gage and fellow wide receiver Justin McCareins both saw double digit targets, Gage was clearly the receiver being used to go deep more often. Early on, while QB Kerry Collins was on-target with his throws, Gage was able to convert his looks into significant gains all over the field as he had little difficulty beating the coverage and getting open (though he did drop a third down pass in the second quarter that would have resulted in a first down). In the later stages of the game, however, Collins rarely put the ball in a position where Gage could make the reception, and as a result, while Gage racked up four catches for 73 yards in the first half, he added only one more for 19 yards in the second.
Givens was targeted in the end zone on the first drive of the game, but the ball was incomplete. He only had one catch for three yards.
Hunter wasn't involved on offense in the first half, but with seven seconds left in the second quarter he caught a touchdown. Much like he had done in the previous week, Hunter made an athletic reception on a pass that Locker put up for him to win.
Washington hasn't turned into the #1 receiver the Titans envisioned when they signed him, and he hasn't been much of a deep threat or playmaker, but he is Kerry Collins favorite receiver on short routes, especially near the goal line. Washington failed to make something happen after the catch about half of the time, but he did show a good nose for the end zone on his TD, diving to get the ball across the plane of the goal line. Washington did have one downfield catch early in the game, but he couldn't get both feet down in bounds.
Williams had one reception against the Browns, but it was a touchdown that put the Titans up 21-6 in the first half. On the play, Williams lined up alone on the left side of the line and ran a wheel route to the back right corner of the endzone. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball low and behind the defender (as opposed to throwing a jump ball) which Williams dove and caught for his first score of the season.
Wright started the game opposite Nate Washington at receiver but his downfield impact was minimal. Wright's best catch came on a reception over the middle where he was hit immediately upon catching the ball. However, he did hang on for a first down. Wright is running lots of drag patterns across the middle and go routes down the seam. His outside routes appear to be double-moves against single-coverage as the Titans work to get him open downfield. Wright did have a short touchdown on quick move from the left side after the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Along with fellow TE Bo Scaife, Kinney was clearly the focal point of the Titansí offense. He lead the team in targets in the first half with three, and then again in the second half with five (tied with Scaife). The first and second receptions of the game went to Kinney. Kinney had a great game, but it should be noted that the Colts were playing deep, allowing the underneath passes to go almost unchallenged. Kinney was the go to receiver on the entire day.
Along with fellow TE Erron Kinney, Scaife was the focal point of the offense. With the Colts taking away the deep passing routes and the WRs as a whole, the Titans relied completely on their TEs to advance the ball in the air. Scaifeís touch down was against single coverage where the Colts all but allowed him to be the receiver that had to make the catch. The Colts seemingly had little confidence in Scaife, almost forcing him to be the one that had to make the catch by defending every other option so well. Scaife responded with a fantastic game. The only possible low point of Scaifeís game was early in the game he caught a reception, and fumbled the ball with little contact against him. It was ruled down by contact, but it was clearly a fumble in the replay.
Troupe had five targets on the day, with four receptions. The Colts were systematically taking out the receiving options on the Titans. Troupe reeled in the third and fourth passes of the entire game for the Titans almost unguarded. After some early success, the Colts worked on taking him out of the game as well.
Stevens had one catch against the Browns. On the play, he lined up in-line to the left side, ran upfield and cut to the outside. He used his body to shield the safety from the ball and reeled in his first touchdown of the year. Otherwise he was used as an in-line blocker, primarily on the left side of the line. He had an excellent block on Chris Johnsonís 25 yard run, getting the Browns defensive end he was blocking off balance, thus allowing Johnson to break to the outside for a large gain.
Walker's first reception was a wide open touchdown in the back of the endzone. He escaped into open space after the Titans ran play action at the goalline. Early in the second quarter, Walker caught a six yard out route on second and 20. During the final moments of the second quarter, Walker beat a defender on a quick out route for a first down on second and eight. On third and three, Locker slightly overthrew Walker over the middle of the field so the tight end couldn't complete a difficult catch.
Bironas kicked a 34 yard FG, and added an extra point.
RB Edgerrin James was able to move the ball up the field against the Titansí defense. The Titans played in a five defense back set for much of the game, allowing James to run freely. When the Titans would try and stop the run, the Colts would either go again with James on the ground yielding slightly less success or throw the ball with great success. The Titansí run defense played adequately, but was no match for the Coltsí offensive machine using a great game plan on the day.
After the success of opposing teams against the Colts with a five defensive back formation, the Titans attempted to copy that success in this game. The Colts countered with a two TE set with Dallas Clark in the slot, easily defeating the defense.