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Scouting Report: Colts

Posted Nov 10, 2017

Brissett progressing under center.

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon at the Indianapolis Colts:

FIGURING IT OUT: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has started eight games and played in nine since arriving from New England in a trade on Sept. 2, and he’s apparently starting to get the hang of it in Indianapolis.

CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl said during the broadcast of last Sunday’s 20-14 Colts’ victory in Houston that Brissett said he was still in the process of adjusting to his new team and learning a new offense. But Brissett threw for 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Texans and had a career-high passer rating of 122.6. He had thrown for two TDs for the first time in a 24-23 loss on Oct. 29 at Cincinnati.

Brissett appears to be getting more comfortable with each game. He looks to be at his best when he’s able to make a decisive read and get the ball out of the pocket quickly and he has enough mobility to escape trouble on occasion. Problems tend to arise when he holds the ball too long in the pocket.

Brissett has more than enough arm strength an accuracy to fit the ball into tight windows.

He’s also tied for third among quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns with three.

RUN FOR COVER: The Colts have allowed an NFL-high 36 sacks in nine games (Brissett has been dropped 32 times and Scott Tolzien has been sacked four times). The league average is 19.9 sacks allowed.

DEFENSIVE DEFICIENCIES: Indianapolis is No. 17 in rushing defense, No. 31 in passing defense, No. 31 in total defense (393.6 yards per game) and No. 32 in scoring defense (28.9 points per game allowed).

CHECK IN AT THE HILTON: Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans after having caught a combined five passes in the Colts’ previous three games. He’d been combustible previously against Cleveland (7-153-1) and San Francisco (7-177) this season.

Hilton was at his competitive best on what became an 80-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in Houston. He caught a short pass, sprinted into Texans territory and then attempted to leap around a tackle on a cut-back at the Houston 32-yard line. Hilton hit the deck and then, realizing that he hadn’t been contacted and he hadn’t heard a whistle, got up and ran into the end zone untouched.

“POPEYE” STRENGTH: Fifth-year tight end Jack Doyle is 10 receptions shy of eclipsing his career high (59 in 2016). Doyle, 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds, leads the Colts in catches, 12 of which he grabbed in Cincinnati on what became a 121-yard day. And he can block.

GORE VALUES: Frank Gore ranks first among NFL running backs in consecutive games played (105) and consecutive games started (101). He’s in his 13th season, but Gore still runs enthusiastically between the tackles, he can still get to the edge and he’s still an effective asset in the passing game, blocking or receiving out of the backfield. He’s one of six players in NFL history with at least 75 rushing touchdowns (76, two this season) and 15 receiving TDs (16). Gore is also 143 yards shy of passing Jerome Bettis (13,662) for sixth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

At 34 Gore still finishes runs with hits on defensive backs along the sideline rather than stepping out of bounds.

FINISH: The Colts’ beleaguered defense took a step against the Texans by defending four snaps from the Indianapolis 7 in the closing seconds. The final play was a sack-strip-fumble by outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard, who has 4.5 of the Colts’ 18 sacks. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo recovered.

SPECIAL EDITION: Kicker Adam Vinatieri passed Gary Anderson (2,434 points) last Sunday and moved into second place on the NFL’s all-time scoring list (2,442), behind Morten Andersen (2,544). Vinatieri is 4-for-4 on field goals of 50-plus yards this season and 8-for-10 in that department over the last two seasons. He’s also the most accurate kicker in the league since 2014 on field goals of any length (99-for-107, 92.5 percent). Indianapolis is tied for No. 2 in opponents’ kickoff return average (18.0 yards per) and No. 6 in opponents’ punt return average 95.3). Wide receiver Quan Bray, who leads the Colts in kickoff return average (23.9) and punt return average (5.3), was placed on the reserve/injured list this week. Defensive end Henry Anderson blocked a field goal against Cincinnati but also went on IR this week.

STAT THAT MATTERS: Indianapolis has given up six return scores for touchdowns this season.

HE SAID IT: “Probably if I had to say one thing stands out the most, it’s they’re getting a lot of hits on the quarterback. They may not end up as sacks but those hits are obviously things we’re trying to avoid. Going into this game from a passing standpoint we’ve got to keep (quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger) clean.” _ offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the Colts’ pass rush.