IND-TEN grades: Andrew Luck impresses despite poor pass protection
Indianapolis Colts 34, Tennessee Titans 26
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Indianapolis’ 34-26 win over the Titans.
Luck unstoppable in road win
Quarterback grade: Andrew Luck, 85.8
Colts QB Andrew Luck was every bit as good as his stat line (27-for-39 for 353 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, 123.1 QB rating) would suggest. Luck’s day could have been even better had Indianapolis’ receivers not combined to drop four passes. The Colts’ QB carved up the Titans’ defense at all three levels, including completing five of six deep (20+ yards in the air) passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. After a difficult 2015 season, Luck currently has a better 2016 passing grade than he has finished with in any full season, and is second in the NFL in passing and overall grades for the season.
Top offensive grades:
QB Andrew Luck, 85.8
TE Jack Doyle, 78.8
WR T.Y. Hilton, 77.5
C Ryan Kelly, 76.5
RB Frank Gore, 73.8
Colts’ pass protection woes continue
Luck’s huge day was even more impressive given the poor pass protection in front of him, and the Colts’ inability to consistently run the ball. Starting tackles Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz each surrendered six total pressures, and LG Joe Haeg allowed a sack, a hit, and a hurry. Luck faced pressure on 17 of his 43 dropbacks, but he was even productive on these plays (9-of-15 for 111 yards and one TD). Indianapolis currently ranks 29th in team pass-blocking grade. RB Frank Gore didn’t add much as a runner in this game, finishing with just 61 yards on his 17 carries. He did not force a single broken tackle, and just 24 of his 61 rushing yards came after contact. Gore still graded out relatively well due to his strong work in pass protection (no pressures allowed in 12 snaps) and his contributions as a receiver (caught all five targets for 22 yards and a touchdown).
Top defensive grades:
CB Darius Butler, 83.9
CB Patrick Robinson, 83.0
NT T.Y McGill, 78.4
CB Vontae Davis, 78.2
OLB Eric Walden, 75.4
Colts’ cornerbacks stand out in coverage
Indianapolis’ defense has been a mess this season, and currently ranks dead last in our overall team-defense grading. The Colts’ defense once again earned negative grades as a team in every category against the Titans, but there were some encouraging individual performances. CB Patrick Robinson was targeted seven times, and surrendered just 13 yards on two catches. Nickel corner Darius Butler had a smaller role than Robinson, but also played well (one for three for 5 yards, one pass defense). The most encouraging development for the Colts was their improved tackling; the defense combined to miss just three tackles in this game after averaging 9.5 missed tackles per game in Weeks 1–6.
Mariota struggles under pressure
Quarterback grade: Marcus Mariota, 46.8
Indianapolis’ defense was unable to consistently apply pressure on Titans QB Marcus Mariota, but Mariota struggled mightily on his few snaps without a clean pocket. The Colts’ pass-rush got pressure on just 10 of Tennessee’s 40 pass plays, finishing with three sacks and forcing Mariota’s QB rating to drop by more than 65 points on his seven pressured attempts. The Titans’ offensive game plan was built around the run game and short-to-intermediate passes (zero-for-three on passes thrown 20+ yards), and the Colts were able to put the game away with a strip sack that they returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Top offensive grades:
RG Josh Kline, 84.8
TE Delanie Walker, 84.8
LT Taylor Lewan, 83.7
RT Jack Conklin, 80.8
WR Rishard Matthews, 75.1
Titans’ offensive line continues to dominate
The Titans currently rank first in the NFL in team run-blocking grade, and second in team pass-protection grade, making a case for the best and most-balanced offensive-line unit in the league. Tackles Taylor Lewan and rookie Jack Conklin have been tremendous this season; Lewan leads all NFL tackles in both overall grade and run-blocking grade, and Conklin is our second-highest graded right tackle. Neither player has allowed a sack in 2016. RG Josh Kline was actually the highest-graded lineman in this game, after not allowing a single pressure on his 45 snaps in pass protection, and earning an 83.7 run-blocking grade. HB DeMarco Murray took advantage of the strong work in front of him by producing consistent gains (25 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown, two broken tackles), but was unable to break off a run longer than 14 yards to change the course of the game.
Top defensive grades:
DE Karl Klug, 82.3
DE DaQuan Jones, 78.3
S Kevin Byard, 78.3
DE Jurrell Casey, 76.3
OLB Derrick Morgan, 75.7
Titans’ pass rush not enough to slow down Luck
While they were able to generate pressure on nearly half of their snaps in pass defense, it was not enough to make up for the struggles of the back seven in coverage. DE Karl Klug (one sack, three hurries, one batted pass), OLB Derrick Morgan (two sacks, three hurries), and OLB Brian Orakpo (five hurries) were in the backfield all day long, but were unable to force a game-changing turnover. Luck picked on linebackers Sean Spence and Avery Williamson in coverage, finishing nine-for-nine for 88 yards and two touchdowns when targeting one of them. CB Jason McCourty was also responsible for a pair of deep completions, including a 37-yard touchdown to T.Y Hilton.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Colts QB Andrew Luck
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