The Indianapolis Colts opened the preseason against the New York Jets on Thursday night and the offense played very well. The final score of a preseason game does not matter in the grand scheme of things. The most important thing about preseason games is how well individual players played within a game-like setting.
The first-team offense showed a lot of great things in the opening drive. Andrew Luck went 4-for-5 with 53 yards passing. The drive stalled near the goal line when a snap went over his head with backup center Jonathan Harrison replacing the injured Khaled Holmes.
The passing game was on point as well. Normally it takes a while for the passing game to come along, but on Thursday night, Luck and his receivers were great from the start. Hakeem Nicks ran a great route and allowed Luck to connect on a third down to keep the drive alive. T.Y. Hilton also played well; he lined up in the slot for most of the game and was able to beat the nickel cornerback underneath all drive long.
The protection was strong too during the first drive of the game. I have said that Dwayne Allen was going to be big for the Colts’ offense and one play in particular proved my point. The play came on a third down and the Jets were showing a blitz through the “A” gap. Luck brought Allen in for extra protection and he picked up the free rusher through the middle, allowing Luck to find Hilton for the first down. That is exactly what the Colts were hoping for when he returned from injury.
Another thing that impressed me was the play-calling from Pep Hamilton. Last year, he seemed too committed to the power running game, but he played to his strengths and let Luck throw the ball all over the field. He was using lighter packages to open up the running game, which should allow for Trent Richardson to play well in space, something that he was great at doing for his entire career. He is not the best in a downhill running game behind a fullback, but he can be very effective in space.
The Colts’ first-team offense showed that they could be dynamic this year when called upon, and that is a good sign moving forward. The only negative aspect from the first-team offense was Holmes getting hurt. The Colts don’t have anyone who could step in and play quality minutes if Holmes was lost for an extended period of time.
That is something to keep an eye on moving forward. Preseason games don’t mean much in terms of future success. Thursday night was an extremely small sample size, but the Colts showed that they could be flexible, efficient and dynamic. It will be interesting to see if that translates to the regular season.