We caught up with our friend, Chris Shepherd, for the second time in three weeks to get his insight on this week’s match-up between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
1. The Colts offensive line was thought to be a strength coming into the season. It doesn’t look like it has been through six weeks. What has gone wrong?
So, so much has gone wrong up front. None of the five have played consistently well this season. I could write a book about it but I’ll do my best to keep it short. The $0.10 version of it is that the Colts replaced 2/5 starters. Matt Pryor was slated to take over at left tackle and Danny Pinter at right guard. The hope was that Pryor could hold down his spot long enough for rookie Bernhard Raimann to get up to speed and take over as the long term answer at left tackle.
Instead Pryor was an absolute disaster. The next thing I’m about to say will probably sound like hyperbole, I assure you it is not. Matt Pryor was the worst left tackle I have ever seen at the professional level, he could have been replaced by any left tackle starting for any power five NCAA school and the Colts would not have seen a noticeable drop off. In fact many of them would have been better. I wish I were joking. The Colts finally realized that Pryor wasn’t just in a slump and inserted Raimann, only to discover that there was a reason they were trying to bring him along slowly- he’s not ready. He’s an elite athlete who has played offensive line for two years. Finally they decided to give Dennis Kelly a shot at LT and while he’s not great, he was a massive upgrade at left tackle.
Right guard has been a disaster from the jump also, but the team seems settled on having Matt Pryor play there. Now, if this sounds like a bad idea based on what I just told you about Matt Pryor, yeah, it is. But the fact of the matter is while Pryor has the footspeed of my grandma (dead since ‘08) he knows the offense and communicates well. He and right tackle Braden Smith picked up stunts and twists that just didn’t get blocked during the first five weeks of the season. Pryor still isn’t winning many blocks but he’s getting in the way on schemes that no one else has even been able to get in the way of so far this season. The way to beat Pryor is to put someone on him and let them win with athleticism. Both Simmons and Autry should have great days as long as they get 1 on 1 opportunities against Pryor.
So that’s the short version.
2. Jonathan Taylor hasn’t played since the last time these two teams met. Is he on track to play this week?
Maybe? Taylor hadn’t missed so much as a practice before missing the past two games. He was a full participant in today’s practice so it looks like he’s trending toward playing.
3. Alec Pierce looks like a guy that has emerged over the last couple of weeks. Tell us about his game.
Alec Pierce is exciting. He’s big and fast with sure hands. He’s been excellent in contested catch situations but he’s a good route runner too. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to make a lot of people miss in the open field but that’s not really his game. It’s early but the rookie looks super promising.
4. There has been a lot of talk about the trade deadline this week. If you could pick one position where the Colts need to upgrade what would it be and why?
Right guard and it’s not close. If the Colts could bring someone in to sure up the RG spot and replace Matt Pryor, Colts fans everywhere would rejoice.
5. The Titans are a 2-point favorite heading into this game. Is that a fair line? Who wins this game and why?
2 points is fair. The Colts haven’t played their best ball yet and somehow they’ve still managed to win 3 out of their last four games. That said this is as close to a “must win” game a team can have in week seven, for the Colts. So with that in mind I’m calling this one 27-23 Colts.