IND-TEN grades: Andrew Luck impresses despite poor pass protection

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Colts' Week 7 AFC South win over the Titans.

| 8 months ago
Andrew Luck

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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.

Indianapolis Colts

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.

Colts QB Andrew Luck

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.

Tennessee Titans

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.

Marcus Mariota vs pressure

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

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • Reason

    You guys have the same graphic up for Marcus as you do for Colin Kaep. Colin’s numbers are significantly worse than Marcus, like waaaay worse. Why does Marcus keep getting these bad PFF grades? I thought the grades are based on the outcome of each play? If they are, then why would Marcus get a worse grade if his numbers are better across the board?

    • Brad Barber

      Not exactly sure but maybe they take into account the titans oline is ranked second and 49ers is ranked towards the end. 49ers also had hyde out and no great target while the titans have murry, walker,wright,

    • Rossba06

      Probably because Marcus missed a lot of easy throws on third down. Consistently, he put the ball up too high on wide open receivers.

      • Reason

        I’m not saying Marcus was good. But he was certainly at least as good as Colin Kaep. Maybe he lost points for the high throws, but he also threw two TDs and no INTs. I think my main beef is that when I look at the tape of Marcus vs the tape of other QBs with sometimes higher ratings, and sometimes the other QBs don’t play better. Yet their ratings are much better.

  • Reason

    I just want to note the difference: Colin’s rating is 74.8, Marcus is 46.8. Additionally, Marcus continues to drive his team down the field at the end of halves and score. He also has come close or actually come from behind in multiple games this year. From what I’ve seen before about your grading system, there is some account of how important the situation is when he does these things, and he’s been clutch on occasion this year. I’ve seen some note accuracy as an issue, but I watch the tape and see a QB just as accurate as many others with much better grades. I do understand that a fumble at the end of the game that turns into 6 for the other team is probably pretty bad towards the rating, but it just doesn’t make sense how Kaep is 50% higher score than Mariota.