Scout's Eye: Indianapolis Colts Weapon, Nemesis, Under Radar
Weapon: T.Y. Hilton, WR
This Cowboys defense has faced some dynamic players this season in the likes of Tavon Austin, Brandin Cooks and Percy Harvin, and they will get the opportunity to face another one in T.Y. Hilton.
What makes Hilton different from the others I have mentioned is that he is actually an accomplished receiver. There is so much more to his game. He shows the ability to run routes and finish plays, which sets him apart. The first trait you notice about him on tape is what a smooth player he is. In his game there are no wasted movements or steps. When he comes off the ball, he is already at top speed and he puts a tremendous about of pressure on the cornerback in his ability to close any cushion quickly.
He plays with an extended burst and vertical separation, but he can stop on a dime to break his route off. His stop-start ability is impressive, and you can see how it affects the defender trying to cover him. Hilton is a dangerous player at all levels in the field. Where I feel like he can cause the most problems is when he comes across the field out of a bunch formation on third downs.
He is fearless when it comes to catching the ball and has no problems catching the ball in his hands. He will extend to get balls and can consistently make the catch. He's had six games this season where he has had double-digit targets. Two weeks ago against the Browns, he was targeted an incredible 19 times, coming up with 10 receptions in a Colts victory.
Nemesis: Andrew Luck, QB
I know it seems strange to call a player a nemesis when it's his first career start against an opponent, but a nemesis in my book is a player that you are going to have to deal with -- and this is the case for Andrew Luck.
I have to admit that in his first three seasons in the league, I had not seen many games of him playing on tape. He just hasn't played many games against teams that were opponents of the Cowboys, so this was my first real look at him as a pro. From the eyeball test there is no question of his physical traits, but what I found interesting about him is, for all the throws he can make, his accuracy can be very much hit and miss.
In going through his previous two games -- the Browns and Texans – both defenses did a really nice job of not allowing him easy throws. As a matter of fact, they were able to choke off his receivers and forced him to have to make some throws in very tight windows.
Where the Browns and Texans were also able to affect him was with pressure. He was sacked a total of five times in those games, and you could see the results of that pressure led to turnovers. With all that being said, what this defense must worry about is when he is on – he is on. When it comes to yards per completion, he is one of the tops in the league, and as we all know, it has been those chunk plays that have hurt this defense the majority of the season.
Under Radar: Mike Adams, S
The Colts have had their share of issues on defense this season, but one of those problems is not at safety. Mike Adams is a veteran player that has been in this league for 11 seasons with various clubs, but he has appeared to have found a home here with the Colts.
When scouts use the term "nose for the ball," it is usually used to describe players that are in the piles when the play is over. Adams is this type of guy. He is third on the team in tackles with 74, which only puts him behind the two starting Colts linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman.
His five interceptions is tops on the team, as well. When you talk about safeties that not only can cover with range but handle assignments one-on-one, then you have a rare player. The Colts scheme calls them to play a lot of man-on-man coverage, and this is right down the alley of what Adams can do. He is more of a smart player than a great athlete. His real strength is in his positioning and his ability to play the ball.
Adams is a hard player to fool, and when he commits to the play he is usually right on the mark for where he needs to be. I am looking forward to seeing in this game if defensive coordinator Greg Manusky decides to allow Adams to help over the top on Dez Bryant or if he puts him with Jason Witten and attempts to eliminate the Cowboys from attacking the middle of the field.
Either way, this will be a tough matchup because of how Adams plays.