Curtis Painter is making his first NFL start tonight, and optimism among many fans is high. Though I've said repeatedly that I don't share it on any level, it's worth at least considering the ramifications for the season if Curtis Painter goes and plays a good game against the Bucs.
First, we need to establish the parameters for a 'good game'. Painter is playing the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL. This means that it's not going to get any easier. If he can't move the ball against the Bucs, there is no reason to assume that he'll improve in coming weeks. There's a myth out there that players improve with time. It's just not true. Some guys never get better. If Painter can have a game where he completes 50% of his passes with no turnovers, I'll be thrilled. That's my standard for a good game from him. 50% and 0. Anything else is pure gravy.
I personally don't believe him capable of producing those numbers, but let's assume he does for a moment. It would mean the following:
- Everyone who made insane proclamations about how he was only kept to stroke Bill Polian's ego will have to eat their words. I will say this: I have never been high on Curtis Painter, but I thought he won the backup job fair and square the last two years. He was clearly better than Brandstater or Orlovsky. It wasn't close, really.
- A good game by Painter means it was in fact a mistake to make Collins the starter out of camp. I backed the decision to bring in Collins and bench Painter. It was a sign the coaching staff had NO confidence in Painter, and they were wise not to. However, Collins has been so horrid, that if Painter comes out and plays well, there's really no alternative but for all of us to admit that we were wrong and Reggie Wayne was right.
- If Painter can be credible, then he's the starter moving forward. There's no reason to go back to Collins at this point. He's done nothing and shown no inclination toward improvement. Understand, that I still believe he's the best QB option for the Colts. I believe Painter will play worse than Collins has, but if he does play well, he's the man.
- If Painter can be credible, maybe the season isn't over. With games against the Chiefs and Bengals upcoming, a win by Painter over Tampa could mean Indy could get to 3-3. This would only make the mistake of starting Collins (which cost Indy two wins already) all the more glaring. With any kind of decent QB play, this team would be 2-1.
Painter has it on a platter tonight. The players back him. He's playing a terrible pass defense. If he plays bad tonight, the Colts should not go back to him unless forced to.
But if he plays well...
More thoughts and notes after the jump
Here's what occurred to me watching yesterday's games:
- Oh, Pittsburgh. I chided the Steeler fans that their team was in serious trouble after they played poorly against Indy. I was right. That team is toast. Remember that Colts fans. For Indy to miss the playoffs, it takes a catastrophe. The Steelers miss all the time.
- Rodger Saffold is horrible. Jerry Hughes may be a bust, but oh my is Saffold bad. Go find some tape of the three or four sacks he allowed yesterday. Now go check out the Rams running numbers to his side. Compare them to Indy's numbers running right and left. There's is no evidence that Saffold is an NFL left tackle, and I doubt he'd be better than Link at right tackle. It's fine to rip the Hughes pick. He's been bad. But NO ONE can tell me Saffold is a good player. If Indy had taken him, fans would be irate right now about how Polian blew another O line pick. He's a total mess and that team is too. He's not an NFL starting tackle, right or left.
- Speaking of the Rams, Spagnuolo is 0-4 after chiding the Colts about how they don't take preseason play seriously. He has a sparkling preseason record and a horrible regular season one. Ha ha.
- How little does preseason matter? There were two 4-0 teams. One is now 4-0 (Detroit). The other is 0-4. There were three 0-4 teams. The Raiders are now 2-2. The Chiefs are 1-3, and the Falcons are 2-2. Buffalo was 1-3 and sits at 3-1. Philadelphia was 3-1 in the preseason and now sits at 1-3. The four winless NFL teams were 10-6 in the preseason. The only one with a losing record? Indy. The eight current division leaders did go 20-12 in the preseason, but they also are 25-7 now.
- I'm not saying the Lions are going to the Super Bowl, but they would be a HUGE local favorite in Indy. The Lions would be easy to root for over anyone from the AFC. I know Detroit doesn't have the cash to travel well, but because the trip is so close, I'd bet they'd come in droves. I'm riding that train for the rest of the season. I'm all in on the Lions, just for the fun of it.
- Aaron Rodgers looks so much like Brett Favre from 15 years ago, it's creepy. For those too young to remember the Montana to Young transition...this is what that looks like. Amazing.
- How's free agency working out for you, Philly? Oh, sorry.
- I know the Titans are 3-1, but I'm not buying. They had the nice win over Baltimore, but their other three opponents are 4-8 combined. There are some terrible teams out there. Still Hasselbeck has played well, other than that Jags game which he flat lost for his team. Too bad he didn't decide to sign in Indy.
- The AFC has really fallen off. The dynamic teams are in the NFC. No one in the AFC strikes me as a Super Bowl winner.
- I know I'm in the minority, but I thought the 'give up' call in the Giants game was correct. It didn't look like a stumble to me. The body language of the receiver was that of a player going to the ground to avoid contact. I thought the right call was made.
- Harbaugh is going to take the 49ers to the playoffs. Good for him. Couldn't be happier about it. Wish he could have waited one more year. I don't believe Caldwell should be fired, but I wonder if there's any way to avoid it if the Colts win fewer than four games.