We started off our game preview series last week with a list of questions. After the debacle in Houston against the Texans, the answers to those queries seem to be “No” across the board, which casts a decidedly negative light on the team heading into Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. With such uncertainty, this is clearly the most important early game the Colts have faced in a long time, and maybe in their entire run in Indianapolis. If the `Shoes falter against the Browns, I think we can officially expect to be in for a long, uncomfortable season.
That said, I still feel confident that the Colts can beat the Browns today. In order to do that, though, Indy will have to make sure that certain pieces fall into place. The keys to the game for the Colts:
Keep Kerry Collins Safe
Collins was sacked three times and hit seven times agai nst the Texans. While those aren’t huge numbers, Collins managed to fumble the ball three times thanks in part to the pressure that he faced throughout the game. The Colts need to keep Collins virtually untouched in order to have any kind of passing game, because he is imminently immobile and has the release time of a 90-year-old eunuch. Part of achieving that means making better coaching decisions and playing the best guys on the offensive line. If we see Dallas Clark lining up to block D’Qwell Jackson, we can start writing Kerry’s obit.
Hold Onto the Ball
This seems simple and basic, but the Colts did a terrible job of this against the Texans. This criticism isn’t just about Collins, either, because the receivers had some drops and the running backs need to pay special attention to protecting the rock. That’s because the Colts REALLY need to …
Establish the Running Game
Indy’s defense isn’t a world-beater, but they were on the field WAY too much against the Texans. That was thanks to all the fumbles and the fact that the Colts ran the ball just 16 times. They picked up about four yards per carry, so there is some hope that they can pound it on the ground better this year, and they’re probably going to have to do that.
Stop the Run
The Colts fast but smallish defensive stars have drawn a lot of rave reviews in the past few years, but Indianapolis’ fans know that the lack of big bodies makes them susceptible to the run. Big Peyton Hillis, the Browns’ latest star, presents matchup problems and could steamroll Indy’s line.