There's not much left to say at this point.
The 2012 Colts are going to struggle to win even three games.
If the Colts didn't win yesterday, when are they ever going to?
At Cincy? Jacksonville?
If not now, when?
After watching one of the most winnable games on the schedule go up in smoke, the shell-shocked fans of the Indianapolis Colts have a moral dilemma to solve: do you root for the Colts to win knowing that they are better off in the long run if they don't?
Sixteen games never struck me as a long season before, but given the fact that it's been three weeks since I first wrote about Andrew Luck (an act some foolishly called premature), the season suddenly seems interminable.
There's not much to say about yesterday's game in terms of analysis. Indy clearly suffered greatly without Nevis and Foster at defensive tackle. The D has made a living stopping the run early in the season, but without the two injured players in the middle, the Chiefs routinely exploited gaping holes. The one thing the Chiefs did that no one has since week one was run on the Colts. Even the Bucs picked up most of their yards late.
The secondary was terrible, but it has been terrible all year. Polian said he was 'baffeld'. I can't imagine why. Even a cursory glance at the secondary tells you what you need to know. Lacey was particularly bad and at a complete loss to to stop Bowe. It didn't matter if he played tight or he gave cushion. He couldn't stop Bowe either way. The only good news about the secondary is that secondaries are easy to fix. One more good player to join Bethea and the whole thing looks different.
The Colts defense has now been ravaged by injuries as much as the offense. One of the last winnable home games has passed without a W. There are still 11 weeks left, and while the Colts likely won't go 0-16, 2-14 is a very real possibility. We've reached Bob Knight/Connie Chung territory.
There's nothing new to say that hasn't been said. With Peyton Manning this team is 4-1 at worst. The fact that they are clearly not destitute and are in every game makes it that much worse. This isn't a talentless roster. It's just a team that has blown chances to win four straight weeks.
There's no hope on the horizon. The season is over and has been since week two.
Eleven weeks to go.
Pre-tape notes and observations after the jump.
- Curtis Painter was a revelation. He has never, ever played as well as he did yesterday in the first half. He was accurate and had touch. He had full command of the offense. I was stone-cold flat wrong. He absolutely is a viable NFL quarterback, and clearly should have been the starter from day one. The Colts obviously made the right move keeping him the last two years (a dagger in the heart of the "Polian only kept him for his own ego" wack-jobs), but they also should have gone with him from the start of the year. If he had this in him, then they had no business giving the ball to Collins week one. Painter was not perfect (I'll get to that), but this week HE WAS good enough to win. This week the team DID let him down. This does not change anything about how bad he was Monday. He was not good last week. He was outstanding this week.
- By the way, there's a HUGE difference between being wrong and being biased or 'not objective'. I was wrong about Painter's ability. Flat, completely wrong. I was not 'biased' against him. I was perfectly 'objective'. There's a huge difference. If I had bias in any way, it was FOR Painter. I defended the Colts decision to keep him the last two years and got blasted for it. I simply didn't think he was any good, that's all. There was never any personal dislike. And yes, the accusation does annoy me. I was not wrong in my analysis of his play last week. He was good this week. That doesn't make him good last week. He was bad against Tampa, flat bad. I don't retract anything I said about him since last Monday.
- Pierre Garcon's last 16 games: 76 catches, 1,093 yards, 10 TDs, 14.4 YPR. That doesn't count his 100+ yards in the playoffs. I'm ready to call this one: leap made. He must be resigned. His big third down catch yesterday was what I wanted to see. The bombs are fine. Just make the third down plays, and I'll be happy. This is definitely a player to build around and he's on pace for a big season without Peyton. What else does he need to do?
- Delone Carter is not getting the job done. He's not good at short yardage. He can't catch. He can't block. He's not ready to be playing. 12 carries for 22 yards and a dropped pass is awful. I realize that Don Brown's numbers are skewed by one big run, but take out the best run for all three backs yesterday and you still get Addai at 2.6 YPC, Brown at 3.1 YPC, and Carter at 1.5 YPC. Carter isn't good right now. He's not picking up the short yards, which means he's not good for anything. Don Brown needs to start while Addai heals up. He threw several excellent blocks. I wish Spann had stayed healthy. He can come back in week 8. I'd like to see him. Carter was way over-hyped by some in the national media who created unrealistic expectations of a Rookie of the Year caliber player. He's not at that level. Not even close.
- Painter was great, so I didn't want to lead with criticism of him, but he was terrible at times in the second half. The blown third down throw to Wayne is a play he has to make. The final throw to Gonzo was inexcusable. Yes, there was interference, but on fourth down, why throw short of the sticks to a guy who isn't open? That play had NO chance of getting the first down. He was 3/9 for 40 yards in the second half. The offense didn't stall as much as Painter did. Whatever. He's clearly a solid backup QB in the NFL. He played great, and I'm not going to kill him for not being better. He was good enough on Sunday.
- Caldwell has to go. His initial decision to punt was so bad as defy credulity. With 2:37 to play and the ball at the KC 46, down four, he punted on 4th and 11. The Chiefs committed a penalty, which gave Indy a chance to try for the first down, but they should have gone for it the first time. Here's why: the Colts have no choice but to stop the Chiefs on three straight run plays either way. All he gained with the punt was a maximum of 45 yards (the punt actually was a touch back, so he only would have gained 26). EVEN if he was certain the Indy D could force the three and out (and there was NO reason to expect that), the yards gained in the punt exchange don't outweigh the benefit of chance to convert. Yes, 4th and 11 is long. So what? The odds of converting it were still better than the odds of stopping the Chiefs on three downs and then driving 60-70 yards for a score. Many of Caldwell's moves I disagree with but can understand. This move showed such a blatant disregard for the circumstances, that I'm done. Done. No coach in the NFL punts there. Not even most college coaches are dumb enough to punt there. Horrifically bad decision.
- On that note, I do not believe Caldwell survives the season. I realize I'm changing my position, but I don't think he coaches 16 games this year.
- Dear Bob Lamey: I love homersim. I do. I embrace it. Do not tell fans the division is 'right there to be won'. That's just insanity. Trying to get fans to think about the playoffs will NOT help the team. It won't. Don't do it. Please.
- Freeney. Mathis. Frathis. Enough said.
- It's sad watching Clark out there. He played like this in 2007 when he lead the NFL in drops. He might not blame it on the wrist, but I will.
- Nice job overall by the patchwork line. Kansas City is bad.
- The five teams Indy has played are a combined 8-11. None of them is over .500 against the rest of the NFL. The Bucs went out and proved that a close win over Indy is a sign a team is irrelevant.
- Drake Nevis is awesome. He was as noticeable in his absence as he is when he plays.
- I'll have more to say about the secondary and LBs after I watch the tape. They were awful, but I want to try and see why.
- I have been to Lucas Oil Stadium 9 times. The Colts are 0-9.
- Lots of empty seats yesterday. I don't blame people for staying home. If you've ever wanted to go to a game on the cheap, now is the time.
- I thought Christensen did a good job with the game plan. He put Painter in a place to succeed. He went run heavy. It all worked. It's just a shame Carter got too many carries.
I fear the 'window' to win a game is rapidly closing. The offense wasn't ready to win in weeks 1-4, and now the defense is too banged up to hold up their end of the bargain. Yesterday was one of the winnable games left. Another is this week. The Colts let one slip away. If they don't win this week, they may not.