With Von Miller Manhandling Offensive Line, Could Colts Have Helped Joe Reitz More?
The Denver Broncos Von Miller left the field to the chant of “M-V-P, M-V-P”, following his late game heroics that led to his team’s decisive win over the Indianapolis Colts–leaving the latter’s fans to question whether enough was done to properly pass protect against the superstar sackmaster.
Denver Broncos reigning Super Bowl MVP Von Miller said that he had yet to sack Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in their 4 meetings prior and was hoping for the elusive #12 takedown on Sunday.
The prolific pass rusher finally got his wish against the Colts, as he finished with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 QB hits, and a forced fumble that led to a late Shane Ray recovery for a touchdown–the game sealing score.
Following their 34-24 loss, the Colts coaching staff will have many questions to assuredly answer, but among them will be why the team continuously placed starting right tackle Joe Reitz one-on-one against Miller in pass protection.
It didn’t work in the first half, where Miller made a living in the Colts backfield by placing Luck under routine duress. It certainly didn’t work late in the game when the game mattered most.
Don’t get me wrong, despite his disappointing start to the season, Reitz has proven to be a serviceable if not reliable, starting right tackle along the Colts offensive line during his 6-year tenure with the team. However, he doesn’t have the athletic ability to consistently block Miller one-on-one on an island in pass protection–not many offensive tackles do.
The Colts coaching staff neither did Reitz nor Luck any favors–who have broken confidence and bruises to show for it respectively.
The Colts could’ve given Reitz help by having tight end Dwayne Allen routinely “chip” on pass plays, by throwing a quick “chip” at Miller as a blocker before running his route as a receiver in-tight along the line of scrimmage–still slowing the latter’s pass rush pursuit.
That way the Colts could still help Reitz out on Miller, while not necessarily losing another receiver for Luck to throw to–facing an already stingy Broncos secondary.
If not Allen–for the sake of giving the Broncos different offensive looks, the Colts could’ve also used 2nd tight end (H-back) Jack Doyle. If not Doyle, the Colts could’ve firmly placed running back Frank Gore on Miller’s side for largely the entire game in the backfield for pass blocking.
There were a handful of different options at the Colts disposal regarding derailing Miller’s dominant pass rush. Maybe the pass blocking doesn’t stop Miller, but it would’ve at least slowed him down considerably.
Instead, the Colts coaching staff opted to leave Reitz on an isolated island–something that has to happen eventually throughout the course of a game, but occurred way too often on Sunday. It was the equivalent of playing with dynamite in a nitroglycerine truck, and eventually it exploded in the Colts faces late on Sunday.
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This past offseason, head coach Chuck Pagano said that rare talents like Miller “ain’t falling out of the sky” around the league and later called him a “great, great player” post-game following the loss.
So why did his coaching staff treat Miller like he was such an ordinary talent and not the superstar pass rusher he’s proven to be?
Miller isn’t just a really good pass rusher.
Right now, he’s playing like an all-time great and a potential MVP candidate with a shiny new Super Bowl ring to show for it. The type of pass rusher that transcends the sport and is becoming a once in a generational type talent, much like Hall of Famer Reggie White used to be.
The type of dominant defensive force that can nearly single-handedly wreck an offensive gameplan–such as Houston Texans 3x Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt has demonstrated in recent seasons.
The Colts didn’t pay Miller the proper respect on Sunday, and it ultimately showed in the loss column.