Behind Enemy Lines: #DALvsIND
Lindsay Draper goes Behind Enemy Lines with Caroline Cann, Reporter and Host for the Indianapolis Colts.
Matt Patterson via AP
1. The Colts have struggled to score early in their last two games against good defenses. How do they plan to change that against a 4th ranked Cowboys Defense?
For whatever reason, the Colts offense certainly struggled for five quarters of football and weren’t able to put any points on the board. But, then a big-time play headlined by two of the Colts biggest leaders seemed to bring the offense back to life. We’ve seen this a few times this season, but we’ve also seen things start pretty quick as well. I think the biggest difference for the Colts in terms of offensive firepower is how quickly they can establish their run game. During the Colts’ five-game win streak the run game was really rolling, so I know this will be a big point of emphasis against the Cowboys. The Colts also have former Cowboys’ Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus as their defensive coordinator, so hopefully he remembers a few of their tendencies! Wishful thinking!
2. The Cowboys and Colts are both seeing amazing seasons from rookie linebackers this year. How has Darius Leonard’s performance compared to the expectations when he was drafted?
A few people called Darius Leonard the worst pick of the draft! So, for some he has blown those expectations out of the water! Although, for Leonard himself, he’s played exactly like he thought he would. He made the bold claim back in training camp that he wanted to have a “Defensive Rookie of the Year” type of year and he’s certainly making a good case to see that become a reality. He’s leading not just all NFL rookies, but the entire NFL in tackles — and that’s with him missing a game earlier this season due to injury. He’s also been a force as a pass rusher (seven sacks; second among all rookies) and is leading all rookies and is among league leaders in forced fumbles. Leonard has become an emotional leader for this team and his infectious personality is only amplified because of the impressive year he’s having. He’s a lot of fun to watch.
3. The Cowboys and Colts have both had some inconsistent QB play. How has Andrew Luck developed throughout the season?
I certainly wouldn’t call Luck’s play inconsistent. It’s fair to say he and the offense had an off day a couple weeks back in Jacksonville and his turnovers have come on some big-time, gutsy play calls, but outside of those two arguments, Andrew Luck has drawn attention as a prime candidate for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, and, at times, the NFL’s MVP. He’s currently second in the NFL for total touchdown passes, he’s on pace for a career-high completion percentage and strung together eight consecutive games with three or more touchdown passes. The offense also averages more than 26 points per game and that doesn’t happen with inconsistent quarterback play. His most noticeable growth this season has been physically. Frank Reich said a few weeks ago that Andrew Luck was stronger now than when the season began and that shows in his durability. Luck said before the season he would not skip a step in his process to have his best year and we’ve certainly see that play out over the last few months.
4. How could the Cowboys defense handle T.Y. Hilton?
You can’t!! He’s The Ghost! But in all seriousness, T.Y. Hilton is the No. 1 receiver for this Colts team but he is certainly not the only option for Andrew Luck in big moments. The beauty of the Colts’ offense is the number of options Andrew Luck has at the line of scrimmage and all the different roles each pass catcher plays in the play design. What does this mean in terms of stopping Hilton? Well, it means you probably shouldn’t pay too much attention to Hilton on a particular play because he may just be playing the decoy. Just before halftime in Houston on a 2nd-and-11 play in the red zone, Hilton and Eric Ebron were lined up to the left of Luck. Hilton pulled most of the attention on a little slant route to the end zone but shadowing just behind him was Eric Ebron on an out route. Thanks for the attention Hilton demanded (because of his four receptions and 94 yards at this point in the game) Ebron was able to catch his 12th touchdown pass this season and the Colts to go up 14-7. Hilton, however, did put up 199 yards on nine receptions in this game, so good luck on gauging the amount of attention The Ghost should warrant!