Indianapolis Colts Preseason: 5 Necessary Improvements vs. Browns

coltsThe Indianapolis Colts are going into their third preseason game with momentum on their side. Of course though, so are the Cleveland Browns. The Colts enter the game coming from a 20-12 victory against the Giants while the Browns enter the game from a 24-6 victory against the Lions. This third preseason matchup is going to feature two second-year quarterbacks who have had a fair amount of success on their respective teams.

For the Browns, former Chargers head coach Norv Turner is now the offensive coordinator which should feature the abilities of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and his arm strength. The Colts underwent a change in offensive coordinators as well after losing Bruce Arians to Arizona — the team went out and got Andrew Luck‘s college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. This coordinator change should make Luck more comfortable in relation to play calling.

Even though Saturday’s preseason game doesn’t count, it does count for the starters on both teams because as mentioned in my first article, the game planning is similar as a regular season game. That’s why five things must happen during the Browns vs. Colts preseason game to ensure a positive outing for the Colts.

1. Colts secondary must prevent deep throws: As I said in beginning of this article, offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s play calling should help Weeden show his arm strength a lot more compared to last season. This can be a threat to a Colts secondary that has given up six 20-plus-yard plays in the preseason. If the Colts want to win this game then the secondary must do a better job in preventing big yardage plays. Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and the rest of the secondary have a big task against the Browns speedy receivers.

Colts run game must improve: As stated in my first article, the Colts run game has not been productive in the preseason. By only averaging 3.3 yards-per-carry, Pep Hamilton’s power run game seems to still be in the rebuilding process. However, the Colts are going to be challenged with a Browns run defense that has ranked fifth in the league during the preseason. Expect a hard-fought run game from the Colts. Also, Vick Ballard and Donald Brown must churn out more big runs on Saturday — together they have only averaged a mere 3.3 yards-per-carry.

Colts pass rush must continue its dominance:  The pass rush for the Colts had picked up steam against the New York Giants last Sunday night since having a no pressure game against the Buffalo Bills. With a six-sack night for the Colts, the pass rush must continue its dominance against the Browns. The Browns offensive-line has allowed only four sacks during the preseason which is tied for 17th in the league.

In other words, the Browns offensive line hasn’t allowed many sacks compared to other teams. According to Pro Football Focus, the Browns offensive line ranked third in pass blocking last season therefore the pass rush will struggle in the beginning of the game. However, the pass rush should get better as the game goes on.

Deep plays will help the Colts offense: The Browns pass defense has been average at best against deep throws. The Browns are one of nine teams that have allowed the most 40-plus-yard plays in the preseason. Even though Pep Hamilton brought a West Coast system into the Colts playbook, don’t be surprise if Luck throws some deep passes on Saturday. Luck did complete 68-percent of his throws throughout the preseason so it seems that he will be completing his throws more often.

Colts run game must stop the Browns’ rushing attack: The Colts run defense had trouble stopping opponents’ starting running backs on these past two preseason games. The Colts have allowed 12 carries for 70 yards (5.8 yards-per-carry) against C.J. Spiller and David Wilson which are absurdly-overly-gaudy numbers. To have success on Saturday, the Colts must prevent the Browns’ run game from gaining momentum at the beginning of the game.