What to Watch: Colts vs. Saints

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Sunday will see the Indianapolis Colts looking to get back in the win column after falling to the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.  Many fans, including myself, felt the Colts competed with the Pats until the infamous “trick play”. Sure there are still discussions about the play, but now is the time for the team to move past it and learn a lesson from it. The good news is the Colts are still in good shape in the AFC South, but another loss can start to complicate the picture.

The first key for a win for this team always includes the play of Andrew Luck. Sure, Matt Hasselbeck played well while Luck was recovering from his injury, but for the Colts to be successful Luck has to limit those plays where he tries to sustain the play too long which usually ends up in a turnover. One thing that Hasselbeck showed and Luck demonstrated early against the Pats was getting the ball out quick to his playmakers and letting them get the extra yards after the catch. The team developed a good routine early, but by the second half started going back to the big play route which didn’t seem to be effective at all. Luck has to continue this style along with limiting turnovers for this team to not only win, but be great.

Besides Luck developing a good rhythm early, the running game lead by Frank Gore looked the best it been in a long time.  Gore was running efficiently picking up 78 yards for a 6 yards a carry average. As successful as the team was rushing the football, Pep Hamilton seemed to forget about it in the second half entirely. This has been a common theme for this team, the difference is this year the team has the horses in for the stable to run the ball. Recently resigned Amhad Bradshaw and Gore just need to be fed the football, especially in the second half and especially when it’s working. Running the ball will also keep Drew Brees off the field-which is always a good thing.

The Colts defense really played well at times against the Patriots, but couldn’t seem to finish when it needed to. The biggest problem I have witnessed is the lack of pressure being generated. I keep on thinking that each game will be that game where we see Robert Mathis makes his presence known. He’s been getting close, but hasn’t been able to be the game wrecker that he is known to be. The secondary had issues shutting down the Patriot receivers and will face a similar set against the New Orleans Saints. Vontae Davis hasn’t played as consistent as last year, but the Colts’ corners have been banged up most of the season.  Greg Toler has been accumulating a lot of laundry since he’s returned which always add a negative dimension to the defense.

Finally, the biggest and most important factor is the coaching staff shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. As bad as the play call was last week, the team needs to let the game come to them. What I mean by that is don’t try to get to complex or get too complicated. Run the ball, find the open receiver, and stop the Saints by playing solid defense. If an opportunity should arise for a play that may catch the Saints off guard, they need to not try to get too cute!

This game isn’t a “must win” for the Colts though in this stretch they have to face these teams before seeing some relief: the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s a tough road.   Last week this team was close, but ultimately came up short against one of the best-if not the best team in the league. A win would have given them some cushion and at the same time help the team gain an identity they have been looking for since the AFCCG.

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