As a prelude to Sunday’s Steelers/Colts game, we decided to interview an Indianapolis Colts blogger.
Our guest is Kyle Rodriguez of Coltsider. We’ve asked Kyle a few questions about the upcoming game.
1) Is there any way that the Colts can overcome the loss of Peyton Manning, particularly if Manning is out for an extended period?
In short, no. Peyton Manning does more for the Colts than any other player in the league. You can see that just in the last two games. The Colts have built their team around Manning and his strengths, and until this year it’s worked out fairly well for them. But for this season, there isn’t much the Colts can do in order to overcome his absence.
Most Colts fans have, and should have, resigned themselves to the fact that this is most likely a lost season. That being said, there still are things the coaching staff can do in order to improve the team sans-Manning. For example, I’ve called for them to experiment more with struggling young players Donald Brown and Jerry Hughes. Both players have tremendous talent, but aren’t great fits for the Colts’ system. Now would be the time to try some experiments.
2) What players/strategy do you think the Colts should rely on to carry the team in Mannings’ absence?
The Colts are going to need to rely on their running game much more this season than in the past. Kerry Collins and the questionable offensive line aren’t reliable enough to lean on. Fortunately, the run game has looked much improved in the last couple of weeks. But, due to falling behind early, the Colts have had to abandon the running game much earlier than one would like.
For players, the Colts will rely on the veterans to lead the team. Antoine Bethea, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Reggie Wayne will likely be the most important.
3) Which group (e.g. Linebackers, Offensive line, Cornerbacks, etc.) do you think are the Colts greatest strength right now?
The Colts’ greatest strength for me is their defensive ends. The pass rushing duo of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have terrorized the league for years, and don’t show signs of slowing down. Mathis was a terror in last week’s game against Cleveland, and Dwight Freeney added another sack/fumble to his resume. The Colts also added former first round pick Jamaal Anderson over the offseason, who has played very well, especially against the run.
Unfortunately, the defensive tackle play has been substandard, bringing down the overall play of the defensive line.
4) Which group is their greatest weakness right now?
Well, there are a few different areas we could pick on here, but I’d say the secondary as a whole has been disappointing.
Free Safety Antoine Bethea has been steady, but the rest of the group has struggled. Jerraud Powers was a good #1 cornerback for the last couple years, and showed promise to be even better. However, thus far into the preseason, he hasn’t impressed at all, he may have even regressed.
Jacob Lacey has been the other starter, and is the fan whipping boy due to the huge cushions he generally gives to receivers. Whether that is by scheme or by execution is unknown, but either way it isn’t succeeding.
Finally, strong safety Melvin Bullitt was resigned this past offseason, but has been very disappointing over the first two games. His play against the Browns was possibly the biggest killer on defense, and it will need to improve if the Colts are going to have a shot at winning games this season.
5) What do you think the Colts are going to need to do to beat the Steelers?
Their only chance is via turnovers. The Steelers have had a problem with turning the ball over in the first couple games, and the Colts defense has been largely active with the ball as well, forcing five fumbles and two interceptions in the first two games. If the Colts are going to have any chance of winning this game, they will need to take care of the ball on offense, and force turnovers on defense.
6) Predict the winner of the game, and the final score.
Steelers 31, Colts 17
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