Led by Curtis Painter, the Indianapolis Colts matched the supposedly improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers for most of Monday night’s game.
Getting themselves in position to win is something the Bucs have done all season long, and they have enough talent to put a drive together when it matters, or come up for a stop when needed to. That may not make them the most convincing team in the NFL, but it’s a recipe for a winning record as they stand at 3-1.
As for Indianapolis, well they’ll be disappointed. They put themselves in position to end their losing run, but they couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities they created. After two narrow defeats in a row, teams won’t be taking them for granted given some of the talent they have.
Indianapolis: Three Performances of Note
Painting an Inaccurate Picture
In his first chance to show the world that the Colts can get by without Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter (-2.9) didn’t exactly convince any of his critics that he was the answer. Although his stat line wasn’t all that bad (thanks largely to Pierre Garcon) he overthrew five balls, and was fortunate to have two possible interceptions dropped by Aqib Talib and Elbert Mack. Not surprisingly, the Bucs were able to rattle him when they blitzed, sending at least five men on 11 different occasions, with the resulting completion percentage just 20% (with one sack).
This wasn’t a great day to be Kavell Conner (-4.5). The Colts’ outside linebacker had plenty of struggles in coverage, giving up five first downs, one of which was the result of his own missed tackle. So you must be wondering how he finished the game with 16 tackles. The fact of the matter is that he was making tackles down field, with only 37.5% of his tackles constituting a defensive stop. Right now, he just doesn’t seem cut out for an every down linebacker role, so you can add that issue to the host of one’s facing an injury ravaged Colts unit.
A Mixed Bag
When impressive rookie left tackle Anthony Castonzo (-0.5) went down, men people thought that Adrian Clayborn was going to have a career day. However, backup tackle Ben Ijalana (0), held up pretty well considering that it was his first taste of NFL action. While he gave up a pressure, he did some good things in the run game when matched up against Clayborn. On the other side of the line, Jeff Linkenbach (-5.2) had a tougher time handling things. It wasn’t that he got beaten all day long, just that when he did get beaten it was normally really badly. It’s not even just the two sacks he gave up, but five times he got beaten by his man who was able to go on to make a tackle for either a short gain or a loss. The future may be bright for the Colts offensive line, but the old problems are still evident.
Tampa Bay: Three Performances of Note
Michael Bennett: +11.5!
Sometimes a headline can say it all, and when talking about Michael Bennett (+11.5) that really is all you need to know. The former undrafted free agent had a career game where he made the big plays (forcing a fumble from the QB) you see, the big plays (9:23 left in the third where he drives Dallas Clark into the ball carrier to redirect a run) you don’t always, and those (10:14 left in the second to almost pick up a safety) you probably don’t appreciate as much as you should. To put things in perspective, Bennett was on the field for 44 plays, notching 13 positive grades and not one negative grade. I feel a team of the week appearance in his future.
And They Pay Him How Much?
I remember a conversation with PFF Founder Neil Hornsby that took place when Jeremy Trueblood (-6.6) was handed a new contract by Tampa Bay. To say he was surprised by the amount that Trueblood signed for would be an understatement, and performances like this are why he was so furious by the signing. To put it simply, Trueblood just isn’t very good. The Bucs right tackle was always going to have problems guarding Robert Mathis and he gave up two sacks, a hit and four pressures in a torrid display of pass protection. It says something that Jerry Hughes, a first round bust in the making, was able to record a sack on him. It probably wouldn’t bother you quite so much if he could hold up in the run game, but time and time again he was beaten there as well, with the best example of this being with 12:10 left in the second quarter. Here Drake Nevis stands him up before making a tackle for a loss. Trueblood is part of the reason why players like LeGarrette Blount and Josh Freeman have to always work that little bit harder for what they have.
The Real McCoy
If Gerald McCoy (+5.8) can repeatedly beat Joe Reitz and Mike Pollack, I can repeatedly use the same headline. The Tampa Bay defensive tackle is turning out to be quite the secret superstar given his profile relative to his performance, and this was a great example of it. He terrorized the Colts’ guards as he walked away from this game with two tackles for a loss and three tackles for short gains to go with his sack and two pressures in the passing game. When we look back on the 2010 draft class it’s very likely we’ll be praising how it brought us two incredibly dominant defensive tackles.
● Dwight Freeney lined up at DLE for only the second time in three years, and recorded a pressure in the process.
● What does our ‘Under Pressure’ signature stat tell us about Josh Freeman in this game? When pressured, he completed seven out of ten throws and one touchdown. He’s dangerous if you don’t bring him down.
● Injuries to their defensive tackles meant the Colts had to use Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton at defensive tackle. The two spent 61 of their 88 combined snaps playing defensive tackle.
PFF Game Ball:
Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He caused havoc all game long in one of the best performances from a defensive end you’re likely to see all season.