The time off seems to have done Pierre Garcon some good: He looked fresh, able, and was productive. He did drop a deep pass in the second half that was right on his hands, but he was known to do that in the regular season in 2009. Now that he is back, the competition for the second receiver spot between him and Anthony Gonzalez can heat up.
Gonzalez started in the slot, though, which may leave Austin Collie as the odd man out even though he stepped right into the line-up last season as a rookie. The Colts will continue to shuffle the deck and look at their options, but Garcon was impressive in his preseason debut. It will be interesting to see how things shake out with the regular season only two weeks away.
Pat Angerer is a talented young player, but he still has a lot to learn: If Gary Brackett misses considerable time, that will be a huge loss for the Indianapolis defense. Brackett is the captain of that unit and is a leader on defense. Angerer has a great deal of potential, but he needs more time to harness that potential. There is no substitute for Brackett's play on the field, his understanding of the defense, and his leadership on Sundays. Thankfully, the injury is not too severe. Angerer is the next man up, but he will have to learn a lot of new responsibilities in a hurry and that will be a serious challenge for him and the defense as a whole.
Bob Sanders may have found a home at free safety: In an effort to utilize him differently and keep him off the injury report, the Colts moved Sanders away from the strong side of the formation. He produced and played well on Thursday night — although he should know better than to commit a foolish penalty like the unnecessary roughness foul on Jermichael Finley. He forced a fumble, was in on the action and still "in the box" on most running plays, and made the smart move of not engaging Packers center Scott Wells on a screen pass in the second quarter.
Contact with Wells would have led to a bigger play by running back Brandon Jackson and that collision would have been unnecessary and could have ended with Sanders being attended to by trainers. A healthy Sanders will not only help the defense but should keep Melvin Bullitt from guarding the other team's tight end. Bullitt was abused by Finley the entire game and it's a sure bet that other NFL teams are looking for a way to exploit that matchup, though not everyone has a tight end of Finley's caliber on the roster.
I don't need another look at Brandon James: Not only did he fumble a punt that was recovered for a touchdown and changed the momentum of the game, but he looked slow and indecisive on returns. Devin Moore did more to gain a roster spot by not playing this week than he did by playing last week. It looks like another grab bag in the return game this season for Indianapolis, which is something the coaches and the fans were looking to avoid.
If Charlie Johnson doesn't come back, Jeff Linkenbach should be fine: It appears as though the Colts have identified another unheralded, unknown player able to play left tackle for them. It appears as though Tony Ugoh has let another obscure player show him to the bench.
Linkenbach played three quarters on Thursday night and held his own against a formidable Packers pass rush without much help. He's still probably not the "franchise" player Indianapolis was looking for at the position, but he should be more than sufficient while Johnson heals.
Larry Coyer needs to understand the difference between innovative, cute, and poor strategy: A lot of the formations and pressure packages Coyer used in Week 1 of the preseason were innovative. He put his best players in the best position to make a play and often was able to isolate a player so that they had a free shot at the quarterback.
In Week 2, Coyer started to get cute and had too many moving parts going in too many directions for the players to be effective. In Week 3, he dropped both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis into coverage in a pseudo zone blitz attack.
Freeney and Mathis did not make it to the Pro Bowl the last two seasons because of their coverage abilities. The Colts need to get pressure in order for this defense to work and dropping the two best pass rushers on the team into coverage is not the best way to apply that pressure.
In addition, Coyer called a couple of crash blitzes where two blitzers ran into a tackle and appeared to be trying to push him over while there was a wide open outside lane to Aaron Rodgers. These examples of poor strategy and they need to go away.
Speaking of poor strategy: the wide receiver screens need to go away, too. They have been ineffective and have been too easy for the opposing defense to diagnose. It's a good idea to try things out in the preseason and see if they work. The wide receiver screens do not work. Please note this and move on with the game plan.
It's still the preseason for the officials: This was a poorly officiated and ill-managed game by the men in the striped shirts. Let's accept it and move on. Hopefully, there will not be a repeat of this performance when the games actually matter. As predicted, Manning and the hurry-up offense exposed some holes in the new roles regarding umpire placement. Those rules will be fixed. Here's hoping the shoddy officiating is fixed as well.
Donald Brown has his shot: Even though the extent of Joseph Addai's injury is not known at this point, he will most likely be held out of the final preseason game. Brown needs to showcase his abilities now that he's no longer operating in Addai's shadow.
Jerry Hughes needs to showcase his talents, too: Although run-stopping at the goal line is not his role, the only attention he received Thursday was of the negative kind.
It is only the preseason, but: That was an embarrassing loss and complete meltdown by Indianapolis in all phases of the game. The Colts have been able to turn horrid preseasons into 12 win regular seasons in the past, so the thinking is that they will do it again this year.
That having been said, this game exposed a number of glaring weaknesses on this Indianapolis team and they need to start fixing — or hiding — those weaknesses quickly.
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