INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, Colts.com will share a few extra tidbits learned from offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.
What did the coordinators have to say in Week Eight?
Chud on the improvement of Andrew Luck:
"He is playing at a high level. Again, I look at it as a new offense for him, new terminology, new system, new way that we are reading things and doing things. I think he is getting more and more comfortable in that area. I think you look at in the last couple seasons or certainly this season, the decisions he is making. I think he is comfortable with what we are doing. He is making good decisions; he is making quick decisions. I think there are a lot of good examples in (Sunday's win over the Titans) of him making plays down the field, making good throws and then taking what the defense gives him at times as well and sometimes that is a scramble for five or six yards and sometimes it is a check-down for a couple of yards. Not turning the ball over, taking care of the football and making good decisions."
Bowen Analysis: One area that Chud wanted to point to specifically with Luck's strong start in 2016 is the fundamental aspect of the quarterback's game. The drilling of fundamentals was something we heard a lot this offseason in regards to Luck coming back from an adversity filled 2015. Chud said Luck has much better balance with his feet at the top of his pass drops. To the average eye, something like this isn't easily noticeable. But Chud believes it's a major reason why Luck has a career-best in completion percentage (64.9%) and interception rate (1.4%) this season.
Chud on possibly having Donte Moncrief back this weekend:
"He is a heck of a player and he can make plays and he has demonstrated that. He can catch the ball down the field, he is good in the short game, he is a big, strong guy that can make plays on top of guys even when he is covered."
Bowen Analysis: Chud has been the Colts' offensive coordinator for 15 games. He's had Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett together for just one full game (the 2016 season opener). In that game, Luck threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns. This quartet could be back on Sunday with Chud calling the shots from the booth.
Chud on the route running of T.Y. Hilton:
"Obviously, it starts with the talent, but T.Y. has put an incredible amount of time and effort and diligence into improving his route running."
Bowen Analysis: Chud credits Hilton for not wasting any extra motion in his route running. That allows for precise timing with Andrew Luck. Chud spoke on Thursday about how the Colts have on-field cameras at practice that take a look at specific route running, making the sure the receivers/tight ends aren't tipping their hand to what pattern is coming. Hilton is the NFL's third leading receiver (689 yards) and fifth in catches (45) through seven games.
Chud on rookie Joe Haeg starting at three different spots already in 2016:
"What he's done and been able to do as a rookie, I haven't been around another guy that has been able to do that."
Bowen Analysis: While there are still things Haeg needs to clean up (like any rookie), it's pretty impressive what the Colts have felt comfortable giving him in his first year. Haeg has started at right tackle, right guard and left guard. When everyone up front is healthy, and possibly long-term, it looks like the Colts want Haeg to settle in at right tackle. Haeg, a fifth-round pick, was a four-year starter at tackle in college and actually had never played guard in a game until the NFL.
Monachino on getting outside linebacker Akeem Ayers more involved:
"Akeem is a very talented football player. He can do a lot of things well. From a dominant trait standpoint, we really haven't put our finger on that yet but he does a lot of things really well. He can cover, he can run, he can rush. He can do a lot of things. We're still trying to define what he does for us completely, but everything it seems like we ask him to do he does a pretty good job at it. We're going to keep growing his role because those players are hard to find, guys that can do those things."
Bowen Analysis: Last Sunday was the most playing time that Ayers has had this season. With Curt Maggitt out, Ayers played 36 of the 74 defensive snaps, playing behind Robert Mathis and Erik Walden. The Colts need quality snaps off the edge and it looks like Ayers, a 2011 second-round pick, is going to see an increase in those chances.
Monachino on the three-penalty drive from last Sunday that had 17 plays in total:
"It did last forever. I know that by the end of it I was ready for lunch again. It was crazy. Most of it is self-inflicted."
Bowen Analysis: The conversions Tennessee had on that drive came via a 2nd-and-20, a 3rd-and-15, a 2nd-and-9, a 3rd-and-19 and a 3rd-and-7. Penalties and missed tackles have been a common theme for this defense in 2016. That has to change if the Colts are going to avoid the constant one-score games they've had in every fourth quarter this season.**
Monachino on the play of cornerback Patrick Robinson in last week's win:**
"He did take a big step and I think that after the Chicago game and the way that he felt about the way he performed, more so than the way anybody else felt about the way he performed."
Bowen Analysis: Robinson needed that type of game. The veteran cornerback was credited with a pass break up, had another bang-bang play that led to an incompletion and recorded an interception that was negated by a penalty far away from the ball. It might not be this week, but the Colts are going to see some pass happy teams in the second half of the season. It's why they need the Robinson seen in Nashville going forward.**
Monachino on the run game struggles as of late:**
"It's not like they are bleeding us in the run game. It's not like we're hitting them for two-yard gains and they are falling forward for five (yards). People are running the football at us. They are running the football at us in defenses that they really shouldn't be able to. So what we're seeing is we're seeing guys press a little bit. We're seeing guys that think they have to play their gap and a half of another one."
Bowen Analysis: Monachino always paints a pretty clear picture of what is going on within his unit. In looking at Kansas City, Monachino said their lead back (Spencer Ware) is similar to what Chicago has with Jordan Howard. Defensively, Monachino will face some questions again this week in re-assigning reps to guys like T.Y. McGill and Edwin Jackson, who both impressed against the Titans.