The Indianapolis Colts are coming off a marquee victory against the Green Bay Packers, and they did this on the back of a superb second half performance. I've just finished watching the game and wanted to get my thoughts down in relation to the pressure the Colts defense was able to get on Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Colts were able to get to Rodgers 5 times in total. You may think that we have caught a break with news that Robert Mathis will miss the game this weekend with a sprained knee, but the Colts are so much more than Mathis and so much more than Freeney too.
What I saw from the Colts leads me to believe that the Jets offensive line is going to have it's hands full. Dwight Freeney is starting to use his bull rush effectively after missing time early this season, and experienced vet Cory Redding is coming off a game where he constantly moved the lineman and forced Rodgers into quick throws.
I headed over to our Colts blog Stampede Blue to take a look at their coverage this week and found a very good article that outlined exactly what I saw in terms of second half coverage shifts In the first half Randall Cobb was beating the ineffective press coverage for fun and this was allowing Rodgers to get the ball out quickly. However in the 2nd half as outlined perfectly in this article, the corners started to play off their men and they mixed their coverage up from man and it forced Rodgers to go to his 2nd and 3rd reads, even for a quarterback of Rodgers skill-set this takes time and it forced drive killing sacks.
We know that if Sanchez's first read is not there, he can really struggle to progress through his reads quickly and runs himself into numerous sacks. The Colts may not have the elite talent in the secondary, however they mix their coverages to confuse the Quarterback and this allows their effective players up front to disrupt the quarterback. Sanchez should have his favourite target back in Dustin Keller and as Scott outlined in his article this could allow us to exploit the secondary of the Colts.
A word of warning though, we can not under-estimate the Colts. They have a 2-2 record and they are improving week by week, Andrew Luck is already starting to look every bit the NFL Quarterback, if we can't protect Sanchez and we start getting ourselves into the 2nd and long and 3rd and long. This could become a real issue. I think our offensive line has the talent to deal with the pass-rush however communication will be the key, Mangold will need to use his experience to spot where the pressure is coming from. The Colts love to crowd the line, and this was effective against the Packers, lets hope we were taking notes.