LOOKED FOR: Pernell McPhee is quietly putting together a terrific season. Last week against the Panthers team insiders, after reviewing the game tape, believed that McPhee was the best defender on the field.
WHAT WE SAW: In 2014 it doesn’t seem to matter where the Ravens line up McPhee, he seems to be a menacing presence. With the struggles of Terrell Suggs, maybe the Ravens should think about giving Pernell a few of his snaps. I didn’t think a tight end could neutralize Suggs until yesterday.
HURST TO FIRST
LOOKED FOR: Last week Gary Kubiak called a game that didn’t expose the former Tar Heel James Hurst. This game will be in noisy Lucas Oil Stadium. That coupled with a game’s worth of film on Hurst will likely inspire Chuck Pagano’s staff to put the rookie to the test. Will Hurst finish as cleanly this week?
WHAT WE SAW: A disaster. Hurst was overpowered and overwhelmed with speed. Not since the days of Oniel Cousins have we seen a worse performance at offensive tackle. Hurst gave up 3 sacks, 3 hurries and was responsible for several of Joe Flacco’s bruises.
LOOKED FOR: Second year defensive tackle Brandon Williams has been stout at the point of attack and he’s done a great job of collapsing the pocket. Alongside of Haloti Ngata the behemoth duo could be the difference makers in the game as they try and move Andrew Luck off his spot by overpowering The Penguin, aka AQ Shipley and backup guard Lance Louis filling in for the injured Jack Mewhort.
SAW: Williams and Ngata were both double-teamed often and the strategy paid off. Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were stymied by tight ends on occasion and that helped to keep Luck clean in the pocket far too frequently. Rookie center Jonotthan Harrison held up decently in place of Shipley who did not get the start.
LOOKED FOR: Luck will try and get the ball out quickly and utilize bubble screens, particularly to TY Hilton. The Ravens will likely try and jam the Colts receivers to disrupt the timing but such a strategy will require disciplined over-the-top protection from the safeties in order to prevent the home run. This could be a day when the speed of rookie safety Terrence Brooks is on full display.
SAW: The Ravens did a nice job containing the Colts receivers particularly given the ample time Luck had to survey the field. Webb was hesitant to press and played off his man a little too much opening the door to a couple of third down conversions. Brooks is making a case to be the starter alongside Elam.
GREAT WIDE OPEN
LOOKED FOR: The Colts safeties when healthy are a liability. Today they aren’t at full strength given the suspension of LaRon Landry. They’ve struggled in coverage and making matters worse the Colts linebackers don’t drop into zones efficiently. Add it up and it makes the middle of the field the soft white underbelly of the Indy defense. Look for drags from Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown along with a busy day from Owen Daniels who is familiar with his former AFC South rival.
SAW: The Colts didn’t wait to expose their soft white underbelly, opting instead to employ a pre-emptive strike and blitz their safeties and nickel corners, preventing Joe Flacco calling upon the slower developing crosses. Owen Daniels had a good day and it could have been better had the Ravens not emptied their backfield so frequently. Doing so was an invitation for Chuck Pagano’s defense to pin back their ears and sprint towards the Ravens QB. Being the gracious hosts that they are, the Colts accepted the invitation.