Roses and Thorns is where we would review our PFF scores for the previous week and look at what the next opponent may want to do. PFF scores are only one data point. They aren’t the end all be all of human existence, but they give us a basic parameter for what happened the previous week and over the course of the entire season.
We usually start with the top five performers from the previous week. I always love week two because you get to just look up the scores and go. Looking at the top five for each team gives you an idea of how the game went for both teams. So, we will start there and then look at what the Colts want to do on offense and defense. Just to remind everyone, scores of 80 or above usually denote Pro Bowl type performances. 70 or above is usually reserved for solid starters. Scores between 60 and 70 are somewhere between marginal starter and rotational player. Scores below 60 are usually reserved for backups.
The Top Five— Houston Texans
CB Tavierre Thomas: 90.5
LB Henry To’o’to’o: 84.3
CB Steven Nelson: 83.5
DE Will Anderson: 83.1
TE Teagan Quitioriano: 74.8
It really tells you a lot that four of the five top players were on defense. In particular, seeing Will Anderson and To’o’to’o there has to warm the heart. Alabama guys were making plays all over that field on Sunday. Quitioriano was the only offensive player on the board. That could be a sobering predictor of things to come.
The Top Five— Indianapolis Colts
LB E.J. Speed: 94.8
DT Deforest Buckner: 92.5
LB Zaire Franklin: 92.2
DT Grover Stewart: 90.2
DE Kwity Paye: 74.1
Not only are five of these guys defenders, but they are all on Indy’s front seven. When you score above 90 you are clearly playing at a Pro Bowl level, so the Colts had four guys playing at a Pro Bowl level and they still gave up 31 points. That might tell you about the overall quality of the defense.
How will the Colts offense attack the Texans?
It might be instructive to think of the Colts as a poor man’s Ravens. Richardson is very athletic and dynamic, but he is a raw version of Lamar Jackson. Still, we saw that it was impossible to contain Jackson on every play. He was going to make some things happen through sheer athleticism and Richardson will be no different. The difference is that Jackson probably takes better care of the football and is more accurate than Richardson is at this point in their careers.
Without Jonathan Taylor, the Colts running backs are rather ordinary. Starter Deon Jackson finished DAL (28.4) according to PFF this past week. No one else qualified through the minimum number of snaps. Michael Pittman Jr. is a good receiver, but he might be the only one. So, the key will be getting Richardson out in space and creating mismatches.
How will the Colts defense attack the Texans?
The PFF scores above would make this obvious on its own. Shaq Leonard wasn’t even in that group, but he has given the Houston Texans fits. They should be able to control the Texans running game with relative ease and then apply pressure on C.J. Stroud to force him into some quick decisions. The Ravens showed that when Stroud has to think quickly he can get stuck in mental quicksand and take bad sacks.
How will the Texans offense attack the Colts defense?
As good as the Colts front seven was on Sunday, the back end was that shaky. Interestingly enough, while Richardson and Jackson are similar quarterbacks, Stroud is a similar quarterback to Trevor Lawrence. Both are more traditional quarterbacks that want to operate in the pocket. If the receivers can get separation they will have more success than they did in Week 1.
If John Metchie can get on the field it might be a good idea to supplant Noah Brown as the fourth wide receiver. Nico Collins, Robert Woods, and Tank Dell look like a solid top three. All scored above 60 according to PFF which means they are at least good rotational pieces. Adding a fourth guy to that group could really help. If Metchie can’t go then Xavier Hutchinson should get a shot to be that fourth guy.
How will the Texans defense attack the Colts offense?
The schedule makers were kind to the Texans. There aren’t many quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Anthony Richardson, so facing them back to back is actually fortunate. The preparation and strategies will likely be very similar. The Texans front seven got to Jackson four times on Sunday and you would have to think they should be about as successful against Richardson.
Unlike the Ravens, the Colts really don’t have much of a running game with Jonathan Taylor in dry dock. It should be relatively easy to make the Colts one dimensional and if that happens it will be a long day for the Colts offense. Richardson will make plays on his own, but if you force him to do it consistently he will make mistakes.