Colts Battle of The Trenches: Offensive Line vs. Bengals

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Jesse Pierson
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Oct 29, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) reacts during a play against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) reacts during a play against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Colts’ Battle of the Trenches: Offensive Line vs. Bengals

Starters:

Left Tackle: Anthony Castonzo

Left Guard: Jeremy Vujnovich

Center: Ryan Kelly

Right Guard: LeRaven Clark

Right Tackle: Joe Haeg

Key Statistics:

Rushing: 28 carries, 115 yards, 4.11 yards per carry

Passing: 39 attempts, 233 yards, 5.97 yards per attempt; four sacks allowed, 17 yards lost

Penalties: two false starts (Haeg, Castonzo), one holding (Clark)

Superlatives:

Best Performance: Kelly

Worst Performance: Clark

On a blustery, gray, late-October afternoon, the Indianapolis Colts blundered their way to a 2-6 record against a team who used to be commonly referred to as “the Bungles.” Cincinnati failed to match the Colts in yardage (331 to 276), time of possession (33:13 to 26:47), or turnover margin (Colts were +1), but they used an early blocked punt and a late interception for 10 vital points to help secure a 24-23 victory. Indianapolis once again lost a fourth quarter lead amid an up and down performance, but there were positives to be found: Jack Doyle and Henry Anderson played at a very high level, Marlon Mack scored another touchdown to continue his fine rookie campaign, and A.J. Green was held in relative check.

The offensive line showed its inconsistency yet again, as the run blocking was pretty good, the pass blocking left a lot to be desired, and another personnel change was made due to ineffectiveness. Mack’s aforementioned touchdown on a screen was both well-designed and well-executed, but Jacoby Brissett was sacked four times, and part of the reason for Jack Doyle’s impressive stat line is that Brissett had to dump him and the running backs the ball before T.Y. Hilton and the other wideouts could come open deep. Hilton received a lot of flak for his press conference response throwing the O-line under the bus last week, though his comments carry some merit. The offensive line has not done a good enough job of allowing its young backup quarterback to progress through reads and build confidence in the offense.

Ryan Kelly came back from the injury that pulled him out of the Jacksonville Jaguars game last week, where he was replaced by Mike Person. Kelly was solid in his return, showing flashes of what made him a first round pick in 2016. Cincinnati’s defensive line is stout, and Geno Atkins played a great game yesterday. However, Kelly continues to develop and offer hope that he can be a foundational piece for Chris Ballard and Andrew Luck in the future.

LeRaven Clark, on the other hand, played poorly against Atkins and Co. before being benched for rookie Kyle Kalis. While Clark was a tackle in college at pass-heavy Texas Tech, Kalis comes down from the University of Michigan, where he played at right guard for four years. Clark’s learning curve is proving steep, while Kalis did some things well enough to think that he may stay at right guard for the near future…or at least until Denzelle Good returns.

Next week’s task is hardly any easier, as Houston plays host, fresh off of a frustrating loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Jadeveon Clowney and Bernardrick McKinney will be difficult to account for, and the Colts can only feel relief that J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Brian Cushing, and Christian Covington will not be there too.

Thanks for reading, and, as always, Go Colts!

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