Commentary

Injuries will limit Colts offense

Originally Published: October 29, 2010
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN.com

"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski breaks down the matchup between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts:

This game will be a real litmus test for the Colts. On offense, it will be the first game in a while without TE Dallas Clark. Clark is a security blanket for QB Peyton Manning. In crunch time, Manning could always count on Clark to read the coverage properly, read the blitzes and read the hot routes. He sees the defense the same way Manning does. When an offense loses that kind of a guy, it usually has a negative effect on the quarterback.

I'm interested in seeing what formations the Colts use without Clark. Will they use their "11" personnel -- one back, one tight end and three wide receivers? And with WR Austin Collie out and Anthony Gonzalez questionable, can they do that? You're deep into the depth chart now. Is Blair White, their fifth wide receiver, going to play?

At running back, Joseph Addai (shoulder) and Donald Brown (hamstring) are hurt. Addai probably won't play Monday. If Brown can't go, Mike Hart will be the running back. The Colts are limited by their injuries at running back right now.

Despite these personnel problems, you can't count out Manning. He has made a lot of receivers look good. And FB Jacob Tamme already has shown he's a capable receiver. He could open a few eyes Monday night.

Another factor in Manning's favor is that the Houston defense is essentially a sieve. They are dead last in defense. I could go on for hours about their struggles, but their trouble in pass coverage is what stands out.

Safeties Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson are savvy and give great effort, but in space they don't have the movement that a safety needs. The Texans will move LB Brian Cushing inside, and he will not be able to hide. Manning will force him to make plays. LB Zac Diles has struggled, and I bet Manning will look to get him singled up.

When the Texans drafted Mario Williams in 2006, they bypassed Vince Young and Reggie Bush. And they did it for a game like this one. If the Texans are ever going to do anything in the league, it will start with beating their division rivals in Indianapolis. To beat the Colts, you have to pressure Manning.

So the stage is set for this game. Williams has to be the impact player he was drafted to be. This is a perfect situation for him.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.