Moving past this emotional Sunday into what could be one more of the hardest games this season is no fun at all. The 2013 Colts are not the 2012 Colts and the 2012 colts were not that bad.
Comparing both teams stats for this season shows eerie similarities –
On offense – 832 yds passing for us, 897 for them. 577 yds rushing for us, 598 for them.
On defense – 765 yds passing allowed by us, 802 by them. 435 yds rushing allowed by us, 427 by them.
Cross check the offense and defense number for each team against the other and it's a 200 yds passing and 130 yds rushing for each team.
Looking for pinpoints – they sack more, we allow less rushing TD, even the special teams are pretty close.
They have a great QB, ours is not too shabby either.
Neither team has glaring weaknesses to be exploited other then the effects of recent injuries (Our Oline, Their RBs)
When there are no weaknesses to attack the next best thing to do is the opposite. Reduce you opponent's main points of strength. Teams learn to rely on their strengths. In a tough match up they'll tend to try and bring those to bear more. When the going gets tough - the tough gets going and all that. No game plan is likely to eliminate a main point of strength on the opposite team or it wouldn't be a strength point in the first place. What you can do is come up with a game plan that places those key players in a position were they are less likely to succeed so much.
Looking at the Colts I see 3 targets to attack:
Andrew Luck – Yes, sure, let's do that. He didn't get to be who he is by letting other team disrupt him but there may be a few points that will make him a little less efficient. Unlike RW, Andrew's completion percentages and QB rating drops drastically (by close to 50%) when blitzed and placed under pressure. Welcome back mr. Irvin, I have a job for you – it's call BLITZ. And before you panic or ridicule this amazing invention allow me to add the following – Andrew passed less then twice a game for over 25 yards. I know Pete hates allowing any option for big plays but maybe this time we could tighten it all a bit forward.
Coby Fleener – Tight ends have been having the time of their life against us. Olsen, Daniels and Graham were having a field day up the seams. Fleener is not a great blocker but he is probably the most dangerous receiving TE we faced so far this year. We need to pay attention to this guy. Assuming that the only viable running back they have for this game has been a Brown 3 weeks ago we may be able to divert some of the LBs attention more closely to Freeny. With Irvin pressing ahead Kam could lend a hand as well.
Robert Manthis – A guy with 7.5 sacks this year already against our battered Oline and our outstanding pass protection game does sound ominous. This should be both a task for the blockers to account for him on every play and a task for the game plan. He will be coming in hot. Whatever we design to block him is likely to have some effect but not a lot. We need to game plan for it. Let's have RW do what he can do not as improvisation on busted plays late in the game. Lot's of play action, bootlegs and even designed running plays are in order.
If we mange with some of the above, get our running game going and build the passing from it, stop the young Richardson early in the game and win the turnover battle we should do just fine.
The only problem with it is – Easier said then done but after last Sunday it's all within our scope of proven capacities. Find the way and win it Hawks. You know you can.