1:00 PM ET, November 30, 2014
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Game Balls: Washington at Indianapolis
While one of the two coveted quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class thrives and works toward a second straight division title, the other is no longer a starter on a last-place team.
The Indianapolis Colts are quite happy about their decision with the top pick in that draft, and Andrew Luck can continue to validate it Sunday when the Colt McCoy-led Washington Redskins visit Lucas Oil Stadium.
Robert Griffin III, who won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year over Luck, has lost each of his three starts with a 79.3 rating since returning from a dislocated ankle, and coach Jay Gruden announced Wednesday that McCoy would assume the job.
"My job is to do everything we can to win," Gruden said. "... At this time, I just feel like Colt gives us a better opportunity."
There are no such concerns with Luck, despite a less-than-perfect effort in last Sunday's 23-3 home win over Jacksonville. Luck was 21 of 32 for 253 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked five times, fumbled four times -- losing two -- and failed to crack 300 yards for the first time in nine games.
Coach Chuck Pagano placed the blame squarely on Luck's protection.
"It's pretty plain," Pagano said. "It was pretty obvious what we needed to clean up."
Injuries have complicated things. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus and tight end Dwayne Allen have both been out of the lineup, and the Colts (7-4) lost a third starter, right guard Hugh Thornton, with a sprained MCL against the Jaguars. Cherilus (shoulder) is expected to face Washington, Allen (ankle) is day to day and Thornton is said to be week to week.
Indianapolis also recommitted itself to the run with a season-best 175 yards on 35 carries. That comes a week after being limited to 19 yards on 16 carries versus New England as running back Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a broken left fibula.
Daniel Herron assumed the starting role and picked up 65 yards on 12 attempts against the Jaguars, but also lost a fumble.
Overall, things just haven't been quite as smooth for the Colts in the last two games. They've averaged 355.5 yards of offense after putting up 473.1 per game over the previous seven.
"We understand there's stuff to clean up, a lot of stuff to clean up," said Luck, who is still guiding the top-ranked offense in the league (433.8 yards per game). "Some bad balls out there, at times, but that's what practice is for."
Though the Redskins have the 10th-best total defense (331.0 yards per game) and eighth-best pass defense (230.3 ypg) in the league, quarterbacks aren't having a ton of issues making their throws count. Opposing passers have 21 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 103.5 rating -- 31st in the NFL -- against Washington's defense.
The Redskins' biggest problem, however, still seems to be their own passing game after Sunday's 17-13 loss at San Francisco ultimately led to a change under center. Griffin was limited to 106 yards on 11 of 19, numbers Gruden deemed unacceptable in today's game.
"(It) is unheard of this day and age with the receivers we have, and we have to figure out something," said Gruden, whose team has totaled 20 points in two games.
McCoy has been a reasonable fix in limited action during his first season in Washington. He entered the year as the Redskins' No. 3 quarterback and took over for Kirk Cousins in October while Griffin was injured. McCoy's two games -- a start in Dallas following a relief effort against Tennessee -- resulted in wins with an 85.7 completion percentage and a 107.0 rating.
Pass protection, however, has also been an issue for Washington. Griffin was sacked 16 times in the last three games.
If McCoy is able to remain efficient, the Redskins offense could resemble a functional unit given the rushing contributions it has seen lately. Alfred Morris gained 125 yards on 21 carries against the 49ers and is averaging 5.22 per carry over the past three games.
"I stopped trying to think too much. I said this weeks ago, I was thinking too much," said Morris, who was averaging 3.86 through eight games. "I've been playing this game since I was 5. I know how to be a runner. I just stopped thinking and stopped trying to make things happen that weren't there. Each week has been getting better and better."
In the cases where teams have been able to commit to the run against the Colts, they've succeeded. The four teams that have reached the 25-carry mark have defeated them with an average of 148.0 yards.
Indianapolis limited the Jaguars to 194 yards of offense, but it probably needs another strong showing to further instill confidence. The Colts had allowed an average of 526.7 yards and 39.0 points over the previous three weeks.
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|Avg Points Allowed||4.1||2.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||WSH|
|Rush Yds Allowed||WSH|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Indianapolis leads 3-1|
|Oct 17, 2010||WSH 24, IND 27|
|Oct 22, 2006||WSH 22, @IND 36|
|Oct 27, 2002||WSH 26, IND 21|
Andrew Luck and the Colts are 5-0 against teams currently under .500 this season, with Luck averaging 348 pass yards in those games.[+]
Andrew Luck by Current Opponent Win Pct - This Season
Andrew Luck has already set a career high in pass TD this season, and is on pace for his most yards and highest completion percentage. This also happens to be the best pass protection Luck has ever had.[+]
Andrew Luck Career Pressure Percentage
Another good illustration of the divergent paths of RGIII and Andrew Luck comes on downfield throws. Griffin had the 2nd-best completion percentage in the league on throws at least 20 yards downfield during his rookie season, throwing 7 touchdowns and no interceptions. His 23.1 completion percentage this year would rank 31st if he was a qualified quarterback. Two years later, it's Andrew Luck who has the 2nd-best completion percentage on downfield throws. While Griffin had 16 deep completions (22nd in the league) during his 14-game rookie season, Luck's connected on a league-most 28 through only 11 games.[+]
Robert Griffin III Passing 20+ Yds Downfield
While Robert Griffin III had a higher Total QBR in his rookie season than Andrew Luck, he has been trending in the wrong direction over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Luck is currently having the best season of his career in terms of Total QBR.[+]
Alfred Morris might not be that excited about the QB switch. Morris averaged 5.36 yards per rush with Griffin at QB this season but has averaged 3.58 yards with Cousins or McCoy.[+]
Alfred Morris Rushing by QB - This Season
Andrew Luck's TD-Int ratio has improved each season and currently ranks 9th in the league this season. Luck's 29 touchdown passes this season are third most in the league. Robert Griffin III's TD-Int ratio during his rookie season was third best in the league, but has dropped dramatically each of the last two seasons.[+]
Behind Andrew Luck the Colts have one of the league's best passing offenses. They face the Redskins on Sunday, a team whose pass defense is near the bottom of the league. They've allowed 21 passing TD's and have just 4 interceptions.[+]
Colts vs Redskins - NFL Ranks This Season
T.Y. Hilton's 15 100-yard receiving games currently puts him in a tie for 3rd-most since the AFL-NFL merger over a player's first 3 seasons. He still has 5 regular season games left to cut into Randy Moss' 19.[+]
Andrew Luck was the obvious choice for the Colts with the 1st pick in the 2012 draft, and the Redskins followed that up by taking Robert Griffin III with the 2nd pick. The Colts have certainly gotten better quarterback play but part of the advantage they've had is on the defensive end, allowing 4 fewer points per game than the Redskins the past 3 years.[+]
Andrew Luck finished each of his first two seasons with a top-ten Total QBR and currently ranks eighth in the league this season. After finishing in the top five in his rookie season, Robert Griffin III has been near the bottom of the league each of the last two seasons. Note: Griffin is not technically a qualified quarterback this season. The below rank is where he would rank as a qualified quarterback.[+]
RG-3 has not started and finished a win since Week 9 of 2013 - and he's got a 4-14 record in the last 2 years. Only TWO top 3 draft picks have had worse winning percentages in their 2nd and 3rd seasons...Dan Pastorini and Akili Smith.[+]
Worst Win Pct in 2nd-3rd Seasons
Andrew Luck lost a fumble on a sack on the first play from scrimmage Sunday. He now has 5 fumbles and 3 lost fumbles in his last 2 games.
Andrew Luck's season high for turnovers in a game is 2 (6 times including today). Luck has 2 turnovers in less than 4 minutes today.
Colt McCoy completed 16-of-21 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns when facing five or more pass rushers Sunday. McCoy's 283 pass yards against the blitz are the most by a quarterback in a single game Week 4 of 2012 (Ryan Tannehill - 298 against Cardinals). McCoy has seen much more success against the blitz this season than teammates Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.[+]
Redskins QBs Against 5+ Pass Rushers, This Season
DeSean Jackson's 42-yard TD in the 3rd quarter was his 10th reception of at least 40 yards this season, most in the NFL.
Coby Fleener dropped a 2nd quarter pass when he was wide open and 37 yards past the line of scrimmage. Fleener had dropped 5.6% of his targets entering the week, highest among the Colts TEs or WRs.
Dan Herron's 49-yard rush TD was the longest rush play for the Colts this season. It was also Herron's 1st career TD.
The Redskins converted a 3rd-and-10 on their drive that resulted in a Roy Helu TD. They hadn't converted a 3rd-and-10 or longer since Week 2, failing to convert 38 straight prior to this one. The Redskins had converted 2.4% of those opportunities entering the week, by far the worst in the NFL and well below the league average (21.7%)
ESPN Stats & Information