Colts OT Anthony Castonzo will be key missing piece against the Texans

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Anthony Castonzo
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Anthony Castonzo /

The Indianapolis Colts will be without their star left tackle this week against the Texans in a crucial AFC South matchup.

The Indianapolis Colts lost a key piece on their offensive line halfway through last week’s game, leading to a tough defeat to the Tennessee Titans. Anthony Castonzo went down with an MCL sprain leaving Le’Raven Clark at left tackle for most of the game. Clark struggled by allowing four pressures on 43 passing downs.

However, one bright spot is the Colts don’t seem to have any intent to put Castonzo on injured reserve.

It’s clear how important Castonzo is to the offensive line. Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11, both Braden Smith and Castonzo combined for three pressures against two excellent pass rushers, while last week, Clark allowed four to an average pass rush. Compare that to the last time the Colts faced the Titans during which Castonzo didn’t allow a single pressure on 40 passing downs.

On the season, Castonzo has 17 total pressures on 363 passing downs, with a ratio of about 22 passing downs per pressure allowed. Clark averages one in every five during his four-year career with the Colts.

One important stat people tend to overlook is the efficiency of pass blocking. On the season, Castonzo has a 97% pass-blocking efficiency, ranking in the top 20 of tackles. Also, watching the film from last week, Philip Rivers clearly didn’t trust Clark to guard his blindside. Rivers didn’t look comfortable and tended to get rid of the ball quicker with Castonzo out of the game.

While the Colts’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, even with Castonzo out, that doesn’t mean Indianapolis won’t miss him on the field when they take on JJ Watt this week. Texans interm head coach Romeo Crennel is a defensive mind and will put Watt in position to win his battles. One can only assume with Castanzo out, Watt will exclusively be attacking Clark at that left tackle position.

Last season, in the two games the Colts faced the Texans, Castonzo allowed three pressures and 0 sacks on 77 passing snaps with an average one pressure per 26 plays. Going up against Watt and Clowney, he didn’t allow a single sack anchoring the blindside for Jacoby Brissett in some of his best games of the 2019 season.

Although the Colts will still have a good chance at beating the Texans, not having Castonzo on the field will force the offense to give some help to that left tackle position, whether it’s a chip from the tight end or a running back.

The Texans and the Colts will face each other twice in the next three weeks, and one can only hope Castonzo will be on the field for at least one of those matchups.