By Jay Skurski
If you followed the Peyton Manning saga this past offseason in Indianapolis, chances are you did it by reading the columns of Bob Kravitz.
The Indianapolis Star columnist is one of the absolute best in the business. He joined me this afternoon to preview Sunday's upcoming game between the Colts and the Bills.
Topics included Andrew Luck's progress as a rookie, the Colts' struggles on defense, and an update on their coach, Chuck Pagano, who's battling leukemia.
The entire audio clip is at the bottom of this post, but first here are some highlights:
Question: How has first overall pick Andrew Luck looked 10 games into his rookie career?
Bob Kravitz: "I think he's been really impressive. I mean, he's had a couple clunkers. I'm sure you saw the game against the New England Patriots. He struggled in his first game at Chicago, threw a couple picks. On the road he's been a little bit dicey, but for the most part he's been as good as we could have expected, if not better. He’s great at extending plays. He's got great athleticism, a lot better than I think most people expected. The stats are there. He's going to set the rookie record for passing in just about every category. The people who thought that they should have kept Peyton Manning are few and far between at this point."
Q: How do you rate Luck's weapons outside of Reggie Wayne?
BK: "Donnie Avery's got 40-something catches. Donnie's having a pretty nice season, but nothing spectacular. He's used a rookie tight end [Coby Fleener] quite a bit. T.Y. Hilton has very quietly had three 100-yard receiving games. … Their running game, they don't have any guys you would necessarily recognize, but they've been averaging over 100 yards a game rushing the last couple weeks, so they've steadily improved in the running game. Their offensive line has now played together for three or four straight games. They had a lot of injuries to start the season, so he's got more than just Reggie Wayne."
Q: Does the strength of the defense remain Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney?
BK: "To the extent that they have good games on defense, which is few and far between. Mathis has had a nice season when he hasn't been hurt. Freeney’s been kind of quiet. They've been able to double and triple team Dwight quite a bit, especially when Mathis is out of the lineup, which has happened quite often. Their big issue is on the corners. Last game against New England and Tom Brady they were using two backups, Darius Butler and Cassius Vaughn. One of the big stories this week is whether Vontae Davis is ready to come back. He's a major upgrade at one of the cornerback spots. Linebacker they've been pretty good, defensive line just so-so."
Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz