Hey guys. I just noticed that no one from our community had set this thread up yet, so I thought I would take a stab at it. I haven't missed a game since the late 80s sometime and have followed everything these last couple of offseasons very extensively. I'll go ahead and let you guys know what I'll be looking at for this game Monday night.
First, I think the most intriguing matchup this Monday night will be Rivers and his weapons against the stout passing defense of the Indianapolis Colts. Personally I am very happy we are playing a pass-happy Chargers team this week simply because I think it will prime us for the Denver game next week. The secondary is the backbone of this defense. Our number one cornerback is Vontae Davis, whom we got from Miami for our second round pick in the 2013 draft. He was hampered by a minor injury last year; I don't remember what it was. He came back the second half of the season and nearly single handedly beat the Texans last year in week 17. He has continued to play on the cusp of being an elite, shutdown cornerback this season.
Across from Vontae, is Greg Toler. We acquired him from Arizona this offseason. Coming into Indy, his opponents had the lowest completion percentage when targeted last year. This year with the Colts, I have noticed that he likes to take risks. He has 1 INT this year, but he will try to make the big play but can give up 10 yards or so if he misses. Our #3 and #4 CBs are good as well. Darius Butler has been one of the best nickelbacks in the league this year. He already has 2 INTs, and he is great in press coverage. He played #1 and #2 CB last year for us when Powers and Davis were out, so he has starting experience. He has moved to the NB position, and he has finally found his niche. The same can be said for our #4 CB, Cassius Vaughn. He was also our #1 or #2 CB last year due to injuries. he got some much needed experience and is finally understanding his role as a press CB and he adds great depth. Overall, these CBs are physical and are left on their islands for most of the game. Thus far this season, it has worked well as we have had to spy mobile QBs and stop power RBs. That leads me to our safeties
The Colts have 2 Pro Bowl safeties in their backfield in Laron landry and Antoine Bethea. What is interesting is they both appear to be interchangeable from the SS and FS positions as they have played both positions this year. While Landry is much better and laying the wood and helping to stop the run, he has been used in coverage this year as well. Landry has been hampered with a high ankle sprain the past two weeks, and his status is still in question. His backup, Delano Howell, has proven to be better in coverage than Landry, but does not hit as hard and command the respect from receivers that Landry does. However, he still makes his tackles. Bethea is Bethea and is reliable in tackling and covering over the top.
The linebackers are a very interesting group. We will start with the OLB Robert Mathis. He is a beast. He is leading the league in sacks after 5 weeks. This is after many, including myself, did not think he could be so dominant without your very own Dwight Freeney. However, he has proven me wrong by having the best season of his career thus far. It should also be noted that he is RARELY used in coverage if at all and can sometimes still be a liability in the run game. The other outside linebacker is Eric Walden. We acquired him from the Packers in the offseason. We overpaid for him in my opinion. He was brought in to set the edge and help stop the run. He is a liability in coverage however. Normally on passing downs our first round pick Werner from FSU is in to help rush the passer. However he is out this game with a foot injury. We traded for Cam Johnson from the 9ers a few weeks ago and he will probably split time with Walden. I have not seen enough film on him to give you his strengths/weaknesses.
The inside linebackers are very quality, no name guys that do their job. Freeman is our best all around backer. He was top 5 in tackles last year, and made 2 crucial plays last week against Russell Wilson. He has 2 sack fumbles this year and is equally good in coverage. Pat Angerer is our other ILB. He is great against the run and not so great in coverage. He is another one that is known for his hard hits, but not to the extent of Landry.
Our defensive line is very deep. Our heart and soul of our defense is Cory Redding, who followed coach Pagano over from Baltimore. He has such emotion, a high motor, and quite frankly is a scary man. Our other defensive end if Ricky Jean-Francois, who we also plucked from San Francisco. He has been good against the run this year and likes to eat up blockers. Our NTs split time. You are all familiar with Franklin. He splits time with former Alabama star Josh Chapman. Everyone is high on Chapman in Indy. He was drafted in 2012, but did not play. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship without a knee ligament!!!! He is a tough SOB. In 2012 he did rehab on his torn ACL and learned our new 3-4 defense. He also bulked up and his 6'0'' 340 lbs roughly. We brought Franklin in to not rush Chapman back, give him a break, and help mentor him.
In closing on our defense, our motto has been to run the ball and stop the run. Right now, that has been fairly successful. If I were to run, I would run towards Mathis' side as Gore and Lynch have found success there on our line. Passing I would look for short dump offs to Rivers' left side and possible over the middle behind Angerer with a TE. Passing against our corners is very tough and should be a fun matchup.
As far as our offense goes, we have shown a lot of formations this year. We brought in a fullback to help aid in our power running game. We have been seeing a lot o 2WR 2TE sets and big formations. That doesn't mean we can't spread the field and exploit other mismatches though. Luck is amazing. His biggest improvement from last season is throwing outside the numbers and his pocket presence. He is EXTREMELY hard to bring down, and seems to run for a big first down or two every game. He always looks to pass though, as we do not do any of that read option stuff. Reggie Wayne is approaching top 5 WR stats of all time. I am so thankful he stuck around with the Colts because he has been Luck's security blanket. We also move him around everywhere, that includes the slot to create mismatches. T.Y. Hilton is a budding star, and he reminds me a lot of Marvin Harrison in his stature and route running. His hands still need to improve, but I have seen improvement from last season. He is EXTREMELY fast and can stretch the field. He also returns punts for us. Our #2 WR is Darius Heyward-Bey, who we got as a free agent from Oakland. He is a very good blocker in the run game, and has made some big catches this year. I think him being the #3 or #4 guy on play calls has taken a lot of pressure off of him that was in Oakland. He is also very fast and can stretch the field. He seems to catch a bubble screen or 2 more often than not.
Prior to the season, I thought the Colts had one of the best if not the best tight end tandem in the NFL. Since then, Dwayne Allen has suffered a season ending injury. That leaves Coby Fleener, Luck's TE at Stanford, carrying most of the load. He has had a couple of big games and catches his balls over the middle. He was nonexistent last week against Seattle, but that was because Hilton and Wayne were beating Sherman and company. The other TEs on the roster are more used for blocking and sometimes a fullback.
The offensive line has been good and bad this year. The tackles are awesome. Our left tackle, Anthony Castonzo, is not an elite tackle, but is a very solid above average tackle. He is our best lineman by far. Our second best lineman is our right tackle, Gosder Cherilous. We made him the highest paid right tackle in the league this offseason as we signed the former Detroit Lion in free agency. Our left guard is a pleasant surprise for us as our starting LG went down with a season ending injury. Thornton has stepped up as a rookie and has proven to be valuable in the running game. Our weakness on offense is our center and right guard positions. Both are not great at all, and that's being modest. Luck always seems to lead the league in pressures etc. and that is because that pressure comes from the interior of the line. Somehow the Colts had the highest ranked rushing line in football going into the Seattle game last week. We have proven that we like to pound the rock early and often, even if it doesn't seem to be that successful. In the fourth quarter, we were able to wear down both the Seahawks and 49ers and impose our will and not let them get the ball back while we ate up clock. Also Pep Hamilton's offense has done wonders for Luck. Luck has only 2 interceptions this year while our defense takes the ball away twice a game. Luck's completion percentage and QBR have skyrocketed as well due to a less down the field passing attack.
All in all I wanted to give you guys a rundown on our offense and defense and prepare you guys on what to look for this Monday night. I will be happy to take any questions you guys have and try to present multiple opinions, not just my own, if you have any questions. Best of luck to you guys Monday night, and here's to no more injuries. I know neither team needs anymore. ~Nick~