Not that Andrew Luck did badly in a very well rounded performance by the Indianapolis Colts, but the impressive thing to take from their third preseason game was the way their defense performed and even put up points on the board, which is going to be crucial as Luck & Colts search for anyway to take the pressure off of him.
The Colts beat the Cleveland Browns 27-6, handing the Browns their first loss of the preseason. They got one interception of Brian Hoyer which was returned to a touchdown by Larry Asante. But it wasn’t just the scoring. They made the Browns offense look very bad – Brandon Weeden completing only 48% of his passes, while limiting the running game to only 59 yards on 16 carries, with Trent Richardson picking up more than half of the ground game for the Browns.
The Colts also got three sacks on Jason Campbell, and also forced two fumbles, recovering one of them. For Andrew Luck to have a massive sophomore NFL season, he needs his time off the field and to feel confident about the defense being able to step up when he doesn’t deliver a score. He threw an interception which slightly marred his overall good performance, but it was hard to notice anyone looking too worried due to the defense being very consistent and opportunistic.
Luck finished with 16-of-25 for 164 yards, also throwing a couple of touchdowns to Stanley Havili and T.Y. Hilton, who looks more and more like someone who is going to play a very major part in the Colts’ passing game; maybe almost as much as Reggie Wayne.
Luck is a total of 29-of-44 in the preseason, throwing four touchdown passes and an interception. The offensive line hasn’t been doing the best job of protecting him from getting hit, but he has been sacked only twice so far, which is an encouraging sign.
Stanley Havili made quite an impression as he made way for the runners an got a touchdown on the side. The fullback caught two passes for 18 yards, but was also the reason the running game looked a lot better than it has so far in the preseason, with Vick Ballard and Donald Brown combining for 68 yards on 15 carries, and the team rushed an overall 149 yards on 34 carries. The running game was a major issue last season and so far in the preseason, but the Colts might be finding a way to get it to work.
The bad news came in the form of a knee injury to left tackle Anthony Castonzo. He’ll undergo an MRI, and the Colts can’t afford to lose a player from their already questionable offensive line, even if it is someone many are considering as somewhat of a bust.
The Colts will go as far as Luck takes them, that’s quite clear, but there’s a ceiling to his ability to go far this season if the defense, running game and faulty offensive line don’t all do their part. For probably the first time this preseason, the Colts looked like a team that had everything figured out, and they need to hope it’s not a one time thing that Luck wasn’t that crucial to all their success on the field.