Analysis: Colts Beat Redskins, Looking Ahead

I'm going to draw up a profile of a football team, and you guess their record.

This team, let's call them the Indianapolis Garcons, lost the Super Bowl.  This season, they opened the year with four road games in their first six games.  They played three winning teams, a .500 team, and a good passing team with a couple of wins on the road.

The Garcons also have battled injuries to three of their top four wideouts. They lost both of their starting running backs.  Their left tackle has missed games.  They lost their kick returner for the year.  Their middle linebacker and team captain missed a big game.  They lost two of their top three safeties.  Their nickle back was inactive last night.  Their Pro Bowl caliber linebacker has missed time and struggled to find rhythm.

If you didn't know that the Garcon's were really the Colts (ho ho! See what I did there!  Of course you did.  If you couldn't figure that metaphor out, you probably aren't smart enough to be reading this blog...or any blog.  You are probably illiterate.), you would probably guess that the team in question was off to a rough start.  Maybe 2-4.  Maybe even 1-5.

I'm a homer, it's true, but I am not overly optimistic by nature.  I declared the 2008 season over the minute Brackett went down.  I had readers saying I wasn't a true fan because I kept harping on how I didn't think Indy could beat the Saints without Dwight Freeney.  Shake once threatened to leave and not come back because I was so 'toxic' during losses (and we cut live to Irony in 3...2...1).  If I really thought the Colts were trouble, I would say so.  Instead, I'm thrilled.  This team just slugged its way through a rough stretch, and is only a 59 yard field goal away from being tied for the top mark in the conference.

Use whatever word you want to describe the 2010 Colts:  inconsistent, maddening, a touch unlucky, positively Garconian, the end result of last night's game was that Colts have made it to the bye week with the season still intact.  All things being equal, that's a major accomplishment and reason to be proud of this team.  A week off to get healthy, refocus and work on some fundamentals (tackling and ball security) will do wonders for this club.  Last night, the Colts were two touchdowns better than the Redskins.  The scoreboard didn't work out that way, but everyone could see.  Washington was lucky to be in it. Indy was unlucky to have it be close.  This is a good team, a championship caliber team.  They'll get it figured out.  6 of 10 games are at home to finish up.  They'll win 11 or 12, and in this AFC, that's probably good enough for a bye a least.

I wouldn't want to be Houston two weeks from tonight.

Random Thoughts:

  • I felt like this was one of Peyton's worst games of the year.  Last week he was better than his numbers, but this week he was worse.  Actually, I give a lot of credit to Washington secondary.  They have some good players back there.  Manning had the Skins off balance and worn out, and I'm not going to kill him on a day when the offense put up 27 points despite two missed field goals and three fumbles, but still, Peyton had some throws get away from early.
  • Manning is now second in the league in passer rating (behind Vick!), first in touchdowns, third in yards, 5th in completion %...PLEASE, PLEASE can we stop this talk aobut him getting old.  Maybe he does miss passes.  He does so less than any QB in football right now.  Move on.
  • Tom Gower pointed out on Twitter that maybe Collie had touched Rodgers as he was going to the ground. I couldn't see it, but if so, that would have made Caldwell's challenge (which I supported) the worst of all time.  The result could have been a pick, and down by contact.  The official made the 'right' call on that play, but it's the worst rule in the NFL.  I hate the catch continuation rule.  Two feet and possession is a catch. Had Collie poked the ball out, it's a fumble, but because he hit the ground after a third step, it's an incomplete pass?  Stupid, stupid rule.  I've hated it since the moment they implemented it.
  • Pierre Garcon certainly crystallized the debate over his play last night.  A long touchdown.  One of the most breathtaking catches you'll ever see (it was Harrisonian).  A drop.  A penalty.  Another injury.  I'm not a believer (obviously), but I'm also not one of those people calling for him to be traded (or cut).  I get it.  I've always understood the attraction to Garcon.  He's a dynamic talent, a great guy, and he plays hard.  But on third downs, I don't want Manning looking his way.
  • Can we give it up for Pat Angerer.  Picking him was inspired by Polian.  He's going to be great.  He did get lost in coverage a few times, but also made some great individual coverage plays.  Greg Cowan suggested that maybe he's more comfortable in man than zone.  Makes sense.  He's not Brackett, yet, but I can see him getting there and becoming one of the top 5 jerseys worn in Indianapolis.  I know I want one.
  • Jerraud Powers.  How man big plays can he make every week?
  • Joe Addai.  I pray he's ok.  What a game from him.  No back alive hangs on to the ball after the hit he took to the head.  How is that not a penalty?
  • Why did Indy go for the field goal with :07 left in the first half AND a timeout left?  Run another play.  Inexcusable.  Vinateri's miss was ugly, but Caldwell should have given him some more yards to work with.
  • Whitlock ripped Caldwell and Manning for the end of game strategy (three incomplete passes).  I 100% disagree.  If Addai is healthy, you run the ball.  Instead, the Colts stepped up and tried to win by passing.  They needed at least two first downs, and the box was stacked.  We saw on the final series (also handled correctly) that Mike Hart was NEVER going to get that first down running.  Passing was the right way to go.  The Redskins corners blanketed Wayne and Clark, making good plays with tight coverage.  Kudos to them.  The strategy was sound.  The other team just made plays.  Move on.
  • Fili Moala was tantalizing last night.  The D line played their best game of the year as a unit.  They just need to finish some plays.  Freeny made plays that didn't show up on the stat sheet.  He and Mathis were a handful.
  • Here's the problem with poor tackling:  how are you supposed to work on it when every one is hurt?  Seriously, how can a team this hurt practice tackling?  You want Addai or Collie out there getting hit?  This is correctable, and a bye week to get healthy will really help.
  • Diem has been a liability.  I cringe whenever someone writes about how underrated he is.  I feel like I know who the underrated Colts are.  He's not one of them.  He's not always bad, but when he is...watch out.
  • Special teams was a disaster last night: an unmitigated, total disaster.  That fumbled punt was the most predictable play in football history.
  • Way to come up big, Blair White.


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