As you know, I have not been a Kool-Aid drinker this season. I have perferred the bland taste of a nice tall glass of room temperature tap water. Now I'm not ready to beging sipping the ole' happy-man just yet, but Friday nights performance left me comtemplating the question: Should I have bought in to the 2011 Shanaplan?
There were three positive areas of this team that stood out to me on friday night. I hope that you will add your own positives too, and we can get into a little more depth and discussion on individule players. I am going to talk about units where I saw improvement/promise.
Starting Offensive Line: The starters looked good as a unit, and I put emphasis on the word UNIT, because I think some individules played better(or worse) than others, but as a unit we looked good. I thought the interior guys, especially Licht and Monty, looked pretty good. I saw numerous plays where they were getting to the second level on the backers, and opening up huge lanes for our running backs. I also like to see guys finishing blocks, and I saw Licht do this on multiple occasions downfield. Say what you want about him, but I believe he has looked pretty dang good this preseason. As for Trent Williams, well, this post is supposed to be positive, so I'll save the criticism for the comments thread.
Note: I think it is worth mentioning that Willie Smith did a good job with the second team unit at both the left and right tackle spots.
Running Backs: We debated both Evan Royster and Ryan Torain a lot this week. Royster even drew some comparisons to Emmitt Smith for his tough and patient running. Now fast forward one week. If Royster is compared to Emmitt Smith, then we can compare Roy Helu to Bo Jackson(haha). All kidding aside, both Hightower and Helu showed why we traded for/drafted them. Shanny desired a game breaking type of running back, and that is just what these two guys give us. One major thing to take note of: The Colts defense is no where near that of the Steelers. That being said, this is still the NFL, and what Hightower and Helu were able to do was pretty impressive. Some people said that the "game changing" type of back is not needed, and that a slow, patient back can do just fine in this offense. Well, I'm here to tell you differently. The rare combination of size, speed and power that both Hightower and Helu showed, can not be understated. Add in what they offer in the passing game as both blockers and receivers, and you'll understand why I have stood behind my opinion that Torain is on the outside looking in; even when fully healthy. Overall, an excellent game by both of these running backs.
Defensive Line(and OLB's): Man does this area excite me. Jarvis Jenkins(aka the Hype Machine), yet again lived up to his preseason billing. He did nothing flashy, but consistantly got push up the middle, and helped to collapse the pocket. I may be eating some crow for this, but I think he can be our starter in place of my boy Carriker. Bowen, and Cofield showed well again, and are going to pay huge dividends for us this fall. I though Orakpo was outstanding, and Kerrigan keeps getting better week after week. He(Kerrigan), looked much more comfortable this week, especially in coverage. The promise he is showing is making me forget that we passes on a QB in the draft. This unit went from one of the biggest weaknesses on the team last year, to being one of the strengths so far this preseason.
There are many individule performances that are note worthy, so I'll leave the thread for us to discuss those.