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Build the Ultimate Colts Offenseby Andrew Aziz on May 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images You have $38 dollars in your pocket and you have to put together an 11-man offense. You go on Amazon and you see all these players (with their price-points) are available and in their primes. Who do you take? You must have: 1 Quarterback 1 Running Back 3 Receivers 1 Tight End 5 Offensive Linemen (3 IOL and 2 OT) If you want it sorted by position: Quarterbacks — Peyton Manning ($7) || Andrew Luck ($4) || Jim Harbaugh ($2) || Jacoby Brissett ($1) Running Backs — Edgerrin James ($6) || Eric Dickerson ($5) || Marshall Faulk ($4) || Joseph Addai ($3) || Dominic Rhodes ($1) Wide Receivers — Marvin Harrison ($6) || Reggie Wayne ($5) || TY Hilton ($4) || Pierre Garcon ($3) || Austin Collie ($2) || Brandon Stokley ($2) || Anthony Gonzalez ($1) Tight Ends — Dallas Clark ($5) || Jack Doyle ($3) || Ken Dilger ($2) || Marcus Pollard ($1) Offensive Tackles — Chris Hinton ($6) || Tarik Glenn ($5) || Anthony Castonzo ($3) || Ryan Diem ($2) Interior Offensive Linemen — Chris Hinton ($6) || Ray Donaldson ($5) || Quenton Nelson ($4) || Ron Solt ($4) || Ryan Kelly ($3) || Ryan Lilja ($1) So, who would make your team. Post your picks in the comments.
Afternoon Pancakes Episode 42by Jared Malott on May 30, 2020 at 4:55 am
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Sharp Football Data Analysis This week on Afternoon Pancakes, Stephen and I discuss a recent article on Sharp Football and we think this shows that either the data is skewed to rig the NFL or it’s completely random and can/should be improved. Link to the article https://www.sharpfootballanalysis.com/analysis/which-nfl-teams-have-been-most-impacted-by-scheduling-inequalities/ If you would, please follow the podcast for announcements @podpancake on Twitter. Additionally, follow Jared @likelyalien and Stephen @nicereedsteve. We try to record a weekly podcast and focus on all things Colts.
Colts All-Pro Linebacker Darius Leonard is Listed Among the NFL’s Top 10 ‘Best in Coverage’by Luke Schultheis on May 29, 2020 at 4:12 pm
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images According to NFL.com’s Nick Shook using ‘NFL Next Generation’ stats, Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard is among the NFL’s Top 10 best in coverage—sliding in at the final spot as the only linebacker to make the list: 10. Darius Leonard Indianapolis Colts · OLB Passer rating allowed: 58.6. Catch rate allowed below expectation: -3.9. Tight window pct: 27.5. Target rate: 15.6. Average separation yards: 4.7. Leonard’s numbers look a bit different than those of the other players featured here because he’s covering from a linebacker spot, not as a defensive back on the perimeter or in the slot. Leonard’s task is arguably more difficult, as he’s expected to consistently stop the run and also cover all types of targets — receivers, running backs and tight ends — while also carrying a larger body around the field. Having said that, Leonard is a machine. His five interceptions led all linebackers, his 58.6 passer rating allowed as the nearest defender in coverage was also the best mark among LBs and he also finished with seven passes defensed. We can’t forget his pick-six of Jameis Winston in Tampa, either. The fact he landed on this list goes to show just how good a player Leonard is. Shook filtered the coverage candidates by a minimum of 300 coverage snaps and 40 targets respectively. He then used the following key metrics in further evaluation: passer rating allowed, catch rate allowed below expectation, tight window percentage, target rate, average separation yards, and lastly, ballhawk rate and coverage-success rate were also considered as his supplemental metrics. However, the metrics support what Colts fans have already routinely seen with their eyeballs: that Leonard is elite in coverage as a young star NFL linebacker. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Leonard played 437 coverage snaps last season and was targeted 74 times for 59 receptions, 559 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions during his 13 starts—making plays like this: Darius Leonard INTERCEPTION #MIAvsIND (Via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/F8WTTxnPvA— PFF (@PFF) November 10, 2019 Here's Winston's 2nd INT of the day to #Colts LB Darius Leonard.Goes as a stat against Winston, but this is just a hat tip to a great LB making a great play.Leonard fully engages with the C before dropping. Opens up late S blitz. Drops w/ hands up. Perfect execution from 53. pic.twitter.com/IHCcon2Q6I— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) December 9, 2019 At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Leonard might be the closest thing to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks we’ve seen in recent memory playing coverage in the Colts ‘Cover 2’ or ‘Cover 3’ derivative in defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ fast, zone scheme. The 2x NFL All-Pro linebacker has great speed, long arms, and change of direction skills in space, but it’s his instincts, anticipation, and quick reactions—not to mention ball skills and hands, that clearly separate him from other linebackers in coverage. However, to say Leonard just benefits by surprising quarterbacks in zone coverage is unfair, as he’s also shown the ability to ‘man-up’ the league’s top wideouts at times—including former Houston Texans All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins here: Putting a rookie linebacker on one of the most dangerous receivers in football. Can’t tell if that is insanity or just incredible belief in the talented Darius Leonard, covering in that small of a space. pic.twitter.com/ITUgljlJG2— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) December 10, 2018 Leonard is the top young linebacker in the sport right now, as the 24 year old is fresh off another superstar caliber season for the Colts in which he recorded 121 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 5 interceptions, 7 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles—as a dynamic ‘stat-stuffer’. He’s off to an unprecedented pace at linebacker after the first two seasons of his career, and his spectacular play in coverage is one of the big reasons why.
ESPN Ranks the Colts as the 25th ‘Most Committed’ NFL Team at Starting Quarterbackby Luke Schultheis on May 29, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Indianapolis Colts are the 25th most committed NFL team as it relates to their starting veteran quarterback Philip Rivers: 25. Indianapolis Colts Starter: Philip Rivers | Signed through: 2020 Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 1 Contract: One-year, $25 million contract signed in March 2020, fully guaranteed at signing. Contracts don’t get much simpler than this one. The Colts signed Rivers to help them win this upcoming Super Bowl. There is no commitment beyond that for him or them. Indianapolis also has Jacoby Brissett under contract for this year at $13 million, but he’s a free agent next offseason too. The Colts aren’t married to anyone. The only quarterback currently on their books for 2021 is rookie fourth-round pick Jacob Eason. This low of a ranking is hardly surprising all things considered. It doesn’t mean that the Colts don’t have a high degree of confidence in Rivers entering this season, but it’s more of an indication that he’s 38 years old and only signed a 1-year, $25 million deal earlier this offseason. The 2020 season is essentially a 1-year, ‘prove it’ deal for Rivers. If he performs well and wants to continue his playing career, the Colts will assuredly bring him back for at least one more final season in 2021. The hope is that after a disappointing 2019 campaign that saw Rivers throw just 23 touchdowns to 20 interceptions, that he can regain his 2018 form with the Chargers where he threw for 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions a year earlier. By being reunited with head coach Frank Reich and passing behind a strong Colts offensive line with solid weapons—and with a power running game to heavily lean upon, there’s a realistic possibility that Rivers could return to his old Pro Bowl caliber self. As noted, the only Colts quarterback under contract past 2020 is rookie 4th round pick Jacob Eason, who could use a year or two of seasoning—if he even proves capable of being the team’s potential franchise quarterback going forward. The Colts aren’t tied up at starting quarterback by any means right now and could easily turn to free agency or the draft again in the immediate future if their current options don’t exactly pan out. That being said, let’s hope that Rivers and the Colts make for a happy short-term ‘marriage’.
Film Room: Charting WR Zach Pascal’s targets by routes run in 2019by Zach Hicks on May 29, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Which routes did Pascal have the most success on in 2019? If I would have told you before last season that former UDFA Zach Pascal would be the Colts’ leading wide receiver in terms of yardage in 2019, you would have called me crazy. With injuries to both T.Y Hilton and Devin Funchess, Pascal was able to have a career year as he caught 41 passes on 69 targets for 607 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. In a new film room series for the site, we will be looking back on the 2019 season to see which routes each of the top passing game targets had the most success on. I personally went back through all 69 of Pascal’s targets and charted each route. Here are the five routes he found the most success on, and the three routes that he was the least efficient on in 2019. Most Efficient Routes 1.) Deep In Route (16+ air yards) I broke down a few routes by depth of target and didn’t just classify them traditionally as “In” or “Out” routes. The most successful overall route for Pascal in 2019 was the deep In route where the ball traveled 16+ air yards on the play. He hauled in six of his seven targets when running this route for 155 yards. When targeted on this route, Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 118.8. Here is a great example of why he was so successful on these plays as he breaks down the Titans cornerback at the top of his route for an easy first down. 2.) “C” Route Now, a “C” route isn’t a traditional route that you learn at ten years old likes ins and outs. This route essentially starts like a slant, straightens out like a vertical route, before breaking back outside to form a “C” figure on the field. Pascal was only targeted twice on this route last year but he caught both of those targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Colts quarterbacks had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when targeting him on this type of route. This play is a great example of the route, as Pascal is able to beat the Bucs’ defense to the corner for an easy touchdown. 3.) Drag Route One of the easiest routes in the route tree to run, Pascal found a good amount of success on this play. He was targeted five times on the year and was able to haul in three of those passes for 20 yards and touchdown. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 108.3 when targeting him on this route. Here is a good example of what a good drag route can do in an offense as Pascal loses his defender before catching the short pass and taking it in for the touchdown. 4.) Intermediate Curl Route (10-16 air yards) The curl route was another one that I classified between short, intermediate, and deep air yards. Pascal was able to find a good amount of success working the middle of the field on this route. He was targeted five times on the year and was able to bring in four of those targets for 60 yards. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 116.7 when targeting him on these routes. Here is a good example of how he was able to find a good spot in the zone to make the catch over the middle. 5.) Flat Route The last route on the "most efficient" list is a simple flat route. Pascal was targeted three times last year on these routes and brought in all three of those targets for 43 yards. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of 118.8 when targeting him on these routes. Pascal did a great job of creating yards after the catch on these routes, as these short flat routes typically don’t net such a big gain. Here is a great example of Pascal catching the pass in the flat and getting up field for the big gain after the catch. Least Efficient Routes 1.) Streak or Go Route This was pretty ugly, here. Pascal was targeted five times on straight go routes in 2019. He brought in one of those five targets for 19 yards. Two of those targets ended up being intercepted. Colts quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 3.3 when targeting him on go routes. For comparison's sake, if all five of those passes were just thrown straight into the ground instead, the passer rating would have been 39.6. Here is Jacoby Brissett’s interception when throwing a go route to Pascal against Jacksonville: 2.) Short Curl Route (1-10 air yards) This was another rough route for Pascal, as he struggled to get a good rhythm when targeted on this route all year. He was targeted six times on the year when running this route and only caught one pass for six yards. Another pass was intercepted on this route as well. Colts’ quarterbacks had a passer rating of 0.0 when targeting him on this route. That is obviously... not very good. Here is the costly pick-6 against Oakland on a short curl route by Pascal. 3.) Crossing Route Luckily, those top two routes were the only atrocious ones for Pascal on the year. This last one was just the next-worst one by default. He was targeted on just three crossers last year and caught two passes for 54 yards. The other pass was intercepted which dropped his overall efficiency on this route. Colts’ quarterbacks had a passer rating of 70.1 when targeting him on this route. Here is Brian Hoyer throwing a poor pass behind Pascal for an interception against the Miami Dolphins. Final Thoughts Overall, Zach Pascal was a very good receiver for the Colts last season and stepped up big whenever the team needed him. He was very efficient and reliable too, as I only charted two drops from him last season and he was extremely efficient on almost every route on the year. When looking at these numbers, Pascal appears to be at his best when working in-breaking routes, while his struggles came when he pushed vertical. The next element in his game that he needs to work on is separation on vertical routes and being better with his positioning and ball tracking on those routes. He had a great year, though, and should be a consistent number three or four receiver for this team for a long time.