Indianapolis Colts: Jeron Mastrud

Upon Further Review: Colts Week 2

September, 16, 2013
A review of five hot issues from the Indianapolis Colts' 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins:

Problems going deep for Luck: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's best deep completion came when he connected with receiver T.Y. Hilton for a 47-yard gain along the right sideline in the second quarter. But that was about it for Luck when it came to throwing the ball 10 yards or more downfield. He was 7-of-20 on passes of at least 10 yards Sunday. He was only 1-of-4 for 18 yards when it came to attempting a pass to Reggie Wayne for more than 10 yards. One of those attempts was intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Wayne, who stuck up for his quarterback, said he needs to do a better job of being a defender in those situations.

[+] EnlargeLaRon Landry
AJ Mast/AP PhotoSafety LaRon Landry has shown brilliant flashes of speed in both of the Colts' games this season.
Bradshaw wasn’t bad: The stat sheet reads as though Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw had an average game based off his total yards. He ran for 65 yards on 15 attempts. What you had to like about Bradshaw, though, is that he ran hard and with a purpose. He didn’t spend time dancing around trying to find holes; he was always looking to go forward. The loss of Vick Ballard will hurt the Colts this season (just recall Donald Brown’s attempt to “block” on fourth down Sunday), but Bradshaw is healthy and ready to handle the bulk of the carries in the backfield.

No power when the opportunity presented itself: Since the start of training camp, the Colts have been emphasizing the word “power” when talking about their running game. There was a perfect opportunity to put that on display on their opening drive Sunday. The Colts had a second-and-1 from Miami’s 34 when they used a shotgun formation and Luck tried to hit Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone. Luck had to avoid the rush and missed Heyward-Bey on another attempt on third down. The Colts could have redeemed themselves by giving the ball to Bradshaw on fourth down, but coach Chuck Pagano pulled the safe card out and had kicker Adam Vinatieri attempt a 52-yard field goal. The kick was no good, hitting off the left upright.

Landry has strength and speed: Colts safety LaRon Landry is 2-for-2 in catching a player from behind and saving a touchdown. He did it against Oakland when he caught tight end Jeron Mastrud on his 41-yard catch on the Raiders’ final drive of the game. Then Landry was at it again Sunday when he caught Charles Clay on a 67-yard catch from Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Landry was forced to chase Clay down from behind because Antoine Bethea gambled and went for the interception. Landry has led or tied the team in tackles in the first two games. He deserves credit for the tackles, but it’s not a good sign when your safety is leading the team in that category.

Why was Brown in the game? The most embarrassing play of the game was on the Colts’ final offensive snap when Brown tried to block the blitzing Philip Wheeler. Wheeler threw Brown to the side like a bag of potatoes and sacked Luck. Pagano was asked whether Ballard would have been in the game on that play if healthy. “He was our third-down back before he got injured,” the coach said. Pagano was asked a follow-up question about it. And again, he said, “he was our third-down back before he got injured.” It was like Pagano knew Brown shouldn’t have been in the game, but he didn’t want to throw the running back under the bus. It won’t be shocking news when Bradshaw is in the next time the Colts are put in that position. All Pagano and his staff have to do is look at the final offensive snap Sunday if they need a reminder.

Upon Further Review: Colts Week 1

September, 9, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- An examination of four hot issues from the Indianapolis Colts' 21-17 win against the Oakland Raiders:

[+] EnlargeVick Ballard
AP Photo/Doug McSchoolerThe Colts' running game, led by Vick Ballard, showed promise against Oakland.
Maybe the Colts can run after all: What was lost in the all the talk of the Colts' fourth-quarter comeback and Terrelle Pryor's creativity was Indianapolis' ability to run the ball, and I’m not talking about quarterback Andrew Luck's 19-yard touchdown run to win the game. The Colts, who talked about a balanced attack all preseason, rushed 26 times and attempted 23 passes. That likely won’t happen too many times this season. Vick Ballard gained 4.8 yards a carry on his 13 rushes. Ahmad Bradshaw added 26 yards on seven attempts. Don’t be alarmed by Bradshaw’s yards and attempts. The plan all along was for him to get a limited number of snaps because he sat out the entire preseason rehabbing his foot from offseason surgery. He’ll get better as the season progresses. “We blocked up some things and Vick hit some holes, and you saw what Ahmad can do in a limited amount of snaps and exposure,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “I know we probably left some yards out there and we had some times, some penetration that we’ve got to clean up, where we had some negative plays because of hits in the backfield.”

Luck throws under pressure: The Raiders were able to sack Luck four times. He faced five or more pass-rushers on 15 of his 31 drop backs -- the third-highest rate of his young career. Luck was on target when he was able to get the ball off. He was 11-of-12 for 99 yards and seven first downs when facing five pass-rushers. Luck completed only 50 percent of his attempts for seven touchdowns and five interceptions when facing at least five pass-rushers last season. Luck can expect more pressure this weekend against the Miami Dolphins; they had six sacks and three interceptions against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Landry will make an impact: Some people made a big deal about Pryor giving Colts safety LaRon Landry a good stiff arm on his 26-yard run in the third quarter. That wasn’t a big deal. What was, though, was Landry having a presence all around the field. He had a game-high 15 tackles, including 10 unassisted. Landry’s best tackle came when he caught Raiders tight end Jeron Mastrud from behind on his 41-yard catch and run that could have put Oakland ahead in the final minutes of the game. The drive -- and any chance of the Raiders winning -- ended when Antoine Bethea intercepted Pryor with 31 seconds left.

Wayne still producing: As good as the offense could be this season -- and it should be really good with the weapons surrounding Luck -- one thing remains certain: Reggie Wayne will continue to be the primary target until he starts showing signs of slowing down. Wayne caught three passes on the Colts’ opening 10-play drive, which ended with his 12-yard touchdown catch on a perfectly thrown ball from Luck in the corner of the end zone. Wayne, who has caught at least one pass in 113 straight games, had five catches by the end of the Colts’ second drive, which put them ahead 14-0. He had only three more catches the rest of the game. One was a third-down grab on the Colts’ game-winning drive.