What We Learned: Colts vs. Redskins

While the games don't really count in the preseason, there was still plenty to take away from the Colts 30-16 loss on Sunday night. Brad Keller sums up what we learned from the Hall of Fame game.

1.  Quinn Gray and Jared Lorenzen are fighting for the job behind Jim Sorgi.

Although Sorgi did not have a bad outing last night, he also was not overly impressive. He completed 7-of-10 passes for 66 yards on one long series for his only work on the evening.

One drive and ten passes is not what one would assume is an adequate sample size to determine whether or not Sorgi is the man to keep Peyton Manning's seat warm while he convalesces.  It is, however, the amount of work that Manning would have gotten had he been healthy.

Gray got the amount of work reserved for Sorgi and Lorenzen the amount typically associated with the thirdstring quarterback. 

Closer analysis of Sorgi's numbers — and his performance overall — should not have inspired the coaching staff with enough confidence to let him sit that early.

His yards per attempt average of 6.6 is not only low for this offense, but he seemed eager to stretch the field horizontally rather than vertically, dumping the ball off to tight ends and running backs and letting them gain most of the yardage, so the distance the ball traveled in the air on a per attempt basis is probably even less scintillating.

If the idea is that Sogi is to run a cautious offense and take care of the football, then he was surprisingly cavalier with it, whipping a pass to the wrong shoulder of Reggie Wayne on a hook pattern by the goal line.

If you are attempting to be a caretaker quarterback, you should always throw that type of pattern to the correct shoulder and closer to the ground, where only your receiver has a chance to catch the ball — not to the wrong shoulder and at chest level, where you're one Fred Smoot drop away from a red zone turnover.

2.  Gray and Lorenzen may not be better options.

Gray's numbers — 10 for 19 with 160 yards and touchdown for a 8.4 yards per attempt average — look considerably better than Sorgi's numbers — That is until the 47-yard desperation heave to Courtney Roby is taken out of the equation.

Although Gray did move deftly out of the pocket and deliver a fairly catchable ball, it is doubtful that the pass would have been completed had it been attempted against Washington's first string secondary halfway through the third quarter instead of their second string (or worse) in the waning seconds of the first half.

Jared Lorenzen had a bit of a shaky debut in a Colts uniform Sunday night
AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Essentially, it was a Hail Mary play and would have resulted in ending the first half had Justin Tryon not interfered with Roby.  Gray did take some shots down the field, though, and attempted to mimic the aggressive style the Colts are used to on offense with Manning at the helm.

If he gets some reps with the first team, it's possible that he could outshine Sorgi, but he may never get that shot.

Lorenzen has a strong arm, as advertised, and is surprisingly mobile and elusive for a man his size.  However, he was still sacked twice in a little over a quarter, averaged only 4.4 yards per attempt against Washington's scrubs, and threw the game's only interception.

He also looked lost at times and seemed to struggle with his progressions, often accelerating them to his safety valve receiver before it was time to dump the ball off to a running back or tight end.

3.  Depth has been improved at defensive end.

Rookies Curtis Johnson (one sack) and Marcus Howard (1 1/2 sacks) showed excellent quickness off the edge and did their respective jobs, getting to the Redskins quarterbacks.

However, the most important aspect of these takedowns is that they were also sacks that required the young men to maintain their focus and stay with the play.  While not necessarily coverage sacks, they also were not the result of a fantastic individual effort or a missed blocking assignment by the offense.

The sacks were the result of excellent athleticism, aggressiveness, and patience.  Those are three qualities that will serve them well in this scheme.

It should be noted, however, that the Colts sorely miss Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.  The pressure was not there against Washington's first team offensive line and Jeff Charleston and Josh Thomas were not adequate replacements.

It will be interesting to see if the two promising rookies get a shot to succeed against the the other team's best players as the preseason wears on.

4.  It's too early to panic regarding the run defense.

With Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts watching from the bench, taxi squad veteran Marcus Mason and journeyman back-up Rock Cartwright shredded the Colts defense for 156 yards on the ground, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

Most of that yardage was gained in the area where teams have previously had great success against Indianapolis: right up the middle.  Although Ed Johnson seemed to be trailing the play on too many occasions — including making a tackle ten yards down the field from behind on his first snap — the blame for the ineffectiveness of the run defense cannot be placed solely on his shoulders.

Brock was playing end for the most part, since Mathis did not play, and Bob Sanders and Gary Brackett did not suit up, either. 

With so many key players injured, it's too early to be worried about this Achilles heel.  But, it's also something to keep an eye on, since it should not persist once those key players make their way back into the lineup.

5.  Mike Hart is going to force Tony Dungy to make a tough decision.

It's possible that Hart could clear waivers if he gets cut when Dungy assembles his first 53-man roster for the 2008 season.  Surely Dungy would prefer to hide Hart on the practice squad, since the rookie has eligibility and that would be the best place for him to learn the offense and the NFL game in general.

But with his performance last night, he is certainly on the radar of a number of teams.  Hart, Clifton Dawson, Kenton Keith, and Chad Simpson are all fighting for the two running back jobs behind Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai.

If Hart had kept things quiet, Dungy would have been able to waive him, then stick him on the practice squad this season. 

However, since Hart had four carries for 53 yards and caught three passes for 28 yards in his first preseason action, he is no longer a secret.  He may win a spot on the roster if he keeps this up, but one thing is certain ... if he keeps this up, he won't clear waivers when the Colts release him.

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