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

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Oct 22, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) is helped back to the huddle by offensive lineman Joe Haeg (73) after being sacked in the fourth quarter by the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) is helped back to the huddle by offensive lineman Joe Haeg (73) after being sacked in the fourth quarter by the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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

Starters:

Left Tackle: Anthony Castonzo

Left Guard: Jeremy Vujnovich

Center: Ryan Kelly

Right Guard: Kyle Kalis

Right Tackle: Joe Haeg

Key Statistics:

Rushing: 29 carries, 71 yards, 2.45 yards per carry

Passing: 24 attempts, 222 yards, 9.25 yards per attempt; three sacks allowed, 26 yards lost

Penalties: two false starts (Kalis), one holding (Kalis)

Superlatives:

Best Performance: Haeg

Worst Performance: Kalis

It looked for a while as though this team was somehow going to put together a winning streak. The Indianapolis Colts led the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-3, in the third quarter. Then reality came back to Lucas Oil Stadium, and that was that. The Colts’ offense in the first seven possessions (truly six, as one came at the end of the first half, and it was a one-play kneel) punted three times but also scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal. The last five possessions ended in four punts and an interception—with a measly 19 yards gained on 20 plays between those five series. It’s hard to close out a game against a superior opponent. It’s even harder when you gain less than a yard per play, and the offensive line was a big reason for the collapse.

Kyle Kalis has shown some flashes of potential, particularly in the run game, but he will be lucky to keep his starting spot (or his job) after yesterday. In the absence of Jack Mewhort, right guard has been the cursed position. LeRaven Clark is better in pass protection but not very good overall, Kalis is better in run blocking but also not very good overall, and the loss of Denzelle Good after the first game forced Joe Haeg to man right tackle instead of cleaning up the mess inside.

Haeg and fellow bookend Anthony Castonzo have been the lone bright spots in a tumultuous season for the Indianapolis O-line. Both have done well for most of the season, and the offense benefits from their solid play. Neither man is a superstar nor elite at his position, but they do just enough to not hurt the team. The same cannot be said for the other so-called “blockers.” It will be interesting to see what moves are made when Good returns to the lineup.

Joe Philbin and Joe Gilbert don’t have a ton of talent with which to work up front, yet they have done very little in the way of masking deficiencies and adjusting to defenses in-game. To their credit, most games start off pretty well, so there is obviously a solid game plan in place. When the chips are down, though, teams bull past the Colts on a weekly basis. Bad coaching plus bad talent equals a bad team. Luckily, next week is a bye, so everyone can regroup, get healthy, and figure out which five linemen to put out there against Tennessee on the 26th.

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

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