The Indianapolis Colts lost a close one on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins 24-20, and here is a closer look at five performances from the game. Two of them are of the good variety, while the other three were of the not-so-good kind.
1. QB Andrew Luck
I think the world of Andrew Luck, but he didn’t have one of his finer performances against the Miami Dolphins. He looked OK overall, but it was a mediocre game from Luck and not the kind of performance I expected against the Dolphins. While Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones are two excellent player, the Dolphins don’t have much depth in the secondary and Luck was unable to take advantage. He faced way too much pressure up the middle, but his tackles did a good job of keeping some great pass rushers at bay. Luck finished with a QB Rating under 80 and while he wasn’t bad, I expect a lot more out of a high-level QB like Luck.
2. The tackles
I came into the game thinking that Anthony Castonzo was going to be in for a rough day against underrated Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon, but he did an excellent job keeping Vernon at bay. Castonzo played a phenomenal game, and the Indianapolis Colts will be hoping for more of that out of their left tackle going forward. Cameron Wake is one of the toughest matchups in the NFL, and it goes beyond just how great Wake is. The Dolphins play Wake at left defensive end, which means that he goes up against the opponent’s right tackle. What that means is he’s usually going up against the opposition’s tackle who isn’t as adept in pass pro, leading to more mis-matches. Gosder Cherilus is a pretty darn good RT (as shown by the amount of money the Colts gave him this offseason), and he didn’t disappoint. It’s not easy to essentially take Wake completely out of the game, but that’s exactly what Cherilus was able to do.
3. The interior
You can justify some of Luck’s struggles by making note of where the pressure came from. Although the Dolphins were surprisingly unable to get much going with Vernon and Wake on the outside, they were able to consistently put Luck under duress up the middle. Interior pressure is tougher on quarterbacks than pressure off of the edges, and I think Sunday’s game was a good refresher course on that. Randy Starks and Paul Soliai compose one of the best defensive tackle duos in the NFL, and both veteran players were at their finest on Sunday. Starks, especially, was a disruptive force, and they both consistently got pressure on Luck.
One of the main reasons why things fell apart so badly on the inside was the injury to Donald Thomas, and this is an absolutely devastating blow that deserves more attention nationally. Thomas is one of the most underrated guards in the game, and he should have started over Dan Connolly for the New England Patriots last season. He deserved every penny the Indianapolis Colts gave him this offseason, and it’s a crying shame that a quadriceps tear will end his season. This put Hugh Thornton in the game for Thomas, and there was an immediate drop-off. It’s sad when Samson Satele is the best interior OL on your team, and the Colts definitely have issues there.
4. WR T.Y. Hilton
The Miami Dolphins have depth issues at corner, and that’s why I had playmaking WR T.Y. Hilton tabbed for a big game against the ‘Fins. Hilton delivered, and he absolutely exploded for 124 yards and six receptions. That’s an average of over 20 yards per catch, and Hilton certainly showed some big-play ability and once burned the Dolphins defense for a 47-yard gain. Hilton only caught 50% of his passes, but that definitely doesn’t matter with the yardage he piled up.
5. CB Greg Toler
Greg Toler was a solid offseason signing at corner following his release from the Arizona Cardinals, but he didn’t play a good game against the Dolphins at all. Mike Wallace had a real coming-out party on Sunday, and the big-money free agent wideout exploded with nine receptions for 115 yards on a touchdown on 11 targets. That’s an incredible performance, and most of that production from Wallace came against Toler, who allowed Wallace’s 18-yard TD and his big 34-yard reception. Toler just needs to shake things off at this point, because he did play well in Week 1. That was a much easier matchup, of course, but Toler is a good starting corner and was simply the victim of a huge outburst by a high-upside wide receiver.