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out of their last seven with a 24-21 victory at the Houston Texans. The game was highlighted by a strong defensive effort by the Colts as they sacked quarterback Deshaun Watson five times in the win. There were many defensive standouts— Denico Autry Anthony Castonzo Jersey , Kenny Moore, and Pierre Desir to name a few— but the most notable standout had to be Clayton Geathers.Geathers has not had the best season up to this point in my opinion, as he has struggled with run angles and open field tackling all year. Geathers hasn’t necessarily played poorly, he just hasn’t done enough to show me that he is the future of the strong safety position for this team. Obviously he took my harsh analysis to heart as he came out on Sunday with his strongest performance of the season. So what did Geathers do on Sunday that was so much better than the rest of his season? Lets jump into the film and find out. Film RoomThe Colts used Geathers in the box a lot on Sunday, moreso than I’ve seen in any other game this season. They also utilized him a lot with blitz plays, moving him all over the field on these types of plays and disguising their coverages. Here Geathers is blitzing up the middle and gets blocked by the running back. Geathers doesn’t really do anything flashy as he gets stonewalled by the back but by taking the protecting back away from the play, Kenny Moore is able to get the sack. Geathers does his assignment well here on a well designed blitz by Matt Eberflus and the Colts.The area where Geathers really impressed me the most on Sunday was in man coverage in the slot. He never had to line up against the Texans’ starter in the slot Keke Coutee so that does help. However, Geathers did perform admirably all day against DeAndre Carter and Joe Webb in slot man coverage. Here, Moore is sent on yet another blitz and Geathers comes down to play man on Carter. Geathers gets around the pick play pretty well and Malik Hooker does a good job of reading the route. As a result, Geathers gets what should be his first interception of the year. Hooker is called for unnecessary hitting too hard on the play though which negated an all around nice play for the defense.Here the Colts yet again send Moore on a blitz from the slot at the top of the screen. Geathers yet again comes down to cover his man in man to man coverage, this time the receiver is Joe Webb. Geathers and linebacker Anthony Walker do a nice job of taking away the initial read on the quick hitch and Webb is forced to break off the route inside. Geathers follows closely behind, giving Watson a very tight window to force the throw. Watson forces the pass while off balance and it almost leads to an interception for Geathers.Aside from playing well in the slot in man coverage, Geathers seemed toperform better in run defense too as his run angles and run fits all seemed to be much improved on Sunday. This rep, however, is his worst rep of the day for Geathers in run defense. The Texans are running a read option play here. Watson keeps it all the way while Geathers (top left of the screen) is drawn too far inside, leaving Watson the outside angle to pick up extra yards. Geathers does recover nicely and is able to chase down Watson in space but ideally the safety shouldn’t commit so far inside on this type of play. This is a much better rep from Geathers against the read option here. He comes down into the box on the left side of the screen to start the play. Instead of being sucked inside like on the previous rep, Geathers diagnoses the play and engages the tight end in front of the play. He is able to shed the block of the tight end rather quickly and make the tackle on Watson for no gain. This is the type of play that your starting strong safety needs to make right here.This next rep features Geathers making a nice open field tackle on third down. Geathers appears to be dropping into a mid-zone on this play as the Colts go into their typical third down defense. Geathers recognizes that Watson is going to dump the ball down and breaks on the play quicker than anyone else on the defense. He targets Lamar Miller’s waist on this tackle and as he makes first contact, he is able to wrap up around the legs and make the play. Geathers made a nice play here and in other games I would expect him to miss this tackle in the same opportunity. Nice of him to capitalize on this third down play.Now from a slot corner/ linebacker spot, Geathers makes another nice play in run defense. Geathers is lined up over tight end Ryan Griffin here, presumably in man coverage. Geathers does a nice job of keeping his eyes in the backfield however and notices the quick shovel pass to Miller. Geathers is able to step around a poor blocking attempt form Griffin after accelerating off of his back foot and makes the tackle in open space. Again, I really like his target area here as it allows him to still wrap up the runners’ legs when he slides down from the waist area. Very good play here from Geathers in the box.Although this next play looked much more impressive live than on film, it is still an impressive play nonetheless. The Colts yet again send the slot guy on a blitz— this time its Matthew Adams— and Geathers comes down hill from his safety position to play man. So, the reason Geathers is coming down so fast is partly due to the schemed blitz. However, Geathers does a great job of diagnosing the screen and continues to fly down hill, beating the blocker and blowing up the play. If he even hesitates at all, he gets blocked and the screen goes for a big gain. So, nice play by Geathers to read and react on the fly, and well schemed play again by Matt Eberflus.Geathers here is playing deep safety— a rarity in this game— and he comes down to make the tackle on Miller. Part of playing safety is being the last line of defense and Geathers does that well on this play. He knows not to over-commit and risk the big play. He calmly sits back and allows the play to come to him as he makes the nice, form tackle.Probably Geathers’ most impressive tackle of the day Ryan Kelly Color Rush Jersey , as he prevents the punt from being blocked in a pivotal point of the game. Geathers makes a poor read here as the up man and drifts way too far inside. By doing this, he allows a free rusher to fly through the blocks en route to a game altering punt block. Luckily though, he notices the rusher at the last second and is able to grab him before he can block the punt. Obviously not a highlight but good situational awareness to recognize that a holding is better than a blocked punt.Last clip of the day, but it’s a bit of a bad rep for Geathers, at least to some degree. The Texans are in the red zone trying to bring this game back to a one score game with less than five minutes left. The Colts drop into their go to cover two zone with Hooker (on the left) and Geathers (on the right) on the back end. The coverage is initially good but Watson is able to buy time and get out of the pocket. The coverage does break down a bit here now as Hooker drifts too far forward and Geathers gets cement feet looking into the backfield. He needs to drift more with Watson wants he rolls out and locate the nearest receiver. He fails to do that and Watson finds an open Hopkins for the touchdown. AnalysisGeathers had perhaps his best game of the season on Sunday and should have come away with two interceptions to go with his impressive nine tackle performance. His biggest improvements that I saw from prior games was his angles in run support and his targets on ball carriers. As a result, he missed less tackles and the stat sheet looked nice and filled at the end of the day.I do still have my concerns with Geathers though in two deep coverage. I think he does lack the instincts and natural feel back there to really strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. Matt Eberflus did an excellent job of maneuvering him all around the defense, resulting in Geathers playing more slot corner and nickel linebacker. I think those positions are more areas of comfort for him than in that two deep role on passing downs. Overall, I still think that the Colts need to address the other safety position this offseason if they can but this past Sunday did open my eyes to how Geathers could be used going forward. If he cleans up his run angles and target areas like he did against the Texans, the Colts can use him as a base strong safety and a nickel linebacker type on passing downs. In summary however, this was a big game for Geathers and bodes well for the future with his free agency looming. The Colts enter this offseason with a ton of cap space available, a handful of draft picks, and an arrow pointing straight up for a franchise that bounced back from the crater left by Ryan Grigson remarkably quickly. They got solid production from their rookies and second year players. They also did well with the free agents they signed in terms of both production and culture in the locker room. Something really cool was happening with this team in 2018, and the Colts’ front office has some interesting decisions to make this offseason, because they won’t want to mess with any of the progress that has been made. There are several players who are due to hit free agency, and our goal in this exercise is to take a look at some of them and determine if the Colts should re-sign them or let them walk. Ryan GrantPhoto by Michael Hickey/Getty ImagesThis one is as easy a call as there is on this list. Ryan Grant had a few decent games early in the season, but after he hurt his ankle and missed a few games starting in week 7, he became a complete nonfactor. He never had more than 2 catches after that point and was never targeted more than 3 times. Dontrelle Inman stepped directly into his role and took it over pretty seamlessly in week 8 against Oakland. When you factor in that Grant is 28 and unlikely to be making a leap at this stage in his career, it is pretty easy to wish him well and send him on his way.Verdict: GoPierre DesirPhoto by Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesPierre Desir made a strong case for his return over the back stretch of the 2018 season. He was an integral part of limiting arguably the best receiver in football, DeAndre Hopkins, to two very pedestrian games against the Colts. He also had the same kind of impact on Cowboys’ wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had been taking over games before the Colts shut Dallas down completely. Is Desir a long term answer at cornerback? No. He’ll turn 29 next season, and they will need players to step in and take over at some point. While there might be some cornerbacks hitting free agency who could provide a marginal talent increase, would it be worth it if they are a risk to the locker room’s cohesiveness? Given Ballard’s tendency to build from the draft, he will likely address the position there, but in the meantime, it makes sense to give Desir a reasonable deal and let him be a veteran presence in a very young defensive backs room.Verdict: StayAl WoodsPhoto by Bobby Ellis/Getty ImagesFor some reason I had it in my brain that Ryan Grigson had brought Woods in, and nearly gave him credit for a solid signing. Unfortunately for him, that was not the case. Chris Ballard signed Woods, and it proved to be a big signing for the defensive line in terms of limiting their impotence against the run. Woods is one of the oldest players on the roster not named Adam Vinatieri https://www.coltsfanshop.com/Margus-Hunt-Jersey , and having him present on such a young defense almost certainly provided some value. His role this season was significantly limited, especially when compared with 2017 where he was on the field for the majority of defensive snaps. At 32 years old and with a draft class littered with talented interior defensive linemen and a room full of promising young players already, it just seems like Woods is an unlikely candidate to return. Verdict: GoMatthias FarleyPhoto by Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesYou could be forgiven if you had forgotten about Matthias Farley just a little bit. He went to IR after the game against the Patriots, and given the Colts’ run after that point, much of what happened before got lost in the shuffle. Farley is an interesting case in terms of re-signing. He is just 26 years old, and has a ton of heart as well as being a locker room leader. While he isn’t the most athletic guy in the safety room by a wide margin, he also has a bit of that “it” factor that has reared its head with greater consistency over the past two season. He is a player who gets the most out of his ability. To use a term Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com uses, he is a “fairway” guy. He doesn’t have the high ceiling of some guys, but he doesn’t have the low floor either. I would love to see Farley back in that safety room to back up Malik Hooker.Verdict: StayAdam VinatieriPhoto by Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThis is one of the toughest calls out there. On the one hand, the guy is a complete legend. He holds the All-Time points record, and has been one of the most clutch kickers ever. On the other hand, the guy is 46 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt Vinny’s accuracy. He was as accurate this season as ever, and even knocked one in from 54 yards. However, I noticed something this year that I’m sure you did as well. He had some pretty ugly kicks at times, and I think they were due to a lingering injury. He injured his groin in the game against the Bills, and from that point on, there were several one-off kicks that just didn’t look right. Most went in, but seemed to clearly indicate a guy dealing with pain. That is normal for football players, but part of the reason there aren’t guys playing at 46 is because your body simply takes longer to heal than a 24 year old’s does. There is a very real concern that letting someone as prestigious as Vinatieri walk would come back to bite the Colts, and it could. However, Michael Badgley was the guy kicking backup to Vinatieri during training camp and preseason before landing with the Chargers and kicking 93.8% of his field goals and 96.4% of his extra points as well as hitting a 59-yarder. All those numbers best Vinny’s on the year, proving that not only are there guys out there who can be effective, but that the Colts have had them in their building. While it would be a truly tough call, and one that Vinatieri’s retirement might make irrelevant, I believe the right move for the Colts is to let him walk and sign someone to be the next generation place kicker for this team.Verdict: GoLet us know your thoughts in the comments, and check back for the second part of this series for some of the other major in-house free agents the Colts will need to make decisions on.
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