Friday, November 30, 2007

Blood pressure rising

Jags week came at the right time. I've been in a little funk for the last couple of weeks thanks to all the injuries and the inevitability of what's to come this season. The thrill was gone until January, but thankfully the Jags are coming to town.

I can't wait for this game.

I have the sneaky suspicion that the kitties are going to get their heads handed to them on Sunday, and I couldn't be happier about it. Jack Del Rio's comments about the Colts couldn't have been more ill timed. I think the roof is going to come off the dome Sunday from 56,000 people determined to make sure Vic suffers permanent hearing loss.

I haven't been more excited for a game in a looooong time. I'm not sure what we have to avenge exactly, but it feels like a reckoning is due. The Jags like to whine and preen, but they have yet to prove the they belong with the big dogs. The best part is that even if they win, they are still only in second place in the division. The Colts only have to go 4-1 to win the South and probably to clinch the 2 seed. I think we go 5-0.

The reason for my confidence? It finally looks like Tony Ugoh is ready to go.

(Cue the Hallelujah chorus)

This fact has been lost on Bill Simmons who concocts a scenario that is impossible. He somehow has the Colts losing the South and hosting the Browns during WC weekend. Um, Bill, this isn't 1988. That scenario isn't possible. WC teams don't host other WC teams. But whatever, we know you've stopped paying any real attention to sports about 18 months ago.

John Clayton says the worst is over for the Horse.

In other news, Tommy Boy is up for a big award. Be sure to vote for him. Thanks Dave, for the link.

Eyes in the Backfield should be up later tonight.

Demond Sanders: Bill Simmons has a loud mouth, and the fact that he's usually wrong only compounds the problem. His career record picking against the spread is awful. He can write about the NBA all he wants, but he has no business writing about the NFL. It was sweet to see him and his team in ruins last January, but this year it is going to be legendary.

More Trash

I try not to perpetuate trash by reprinting it, but I thought you'd get a kick out of Ask Vic's latest editorial.

Someone needs to tell Vic that the Colts are 9-2 despite injuries on all sides of the ball and if I remember correctly they still managed to kick his team's teeth in the last time they played. He thinks all the pressure is on the Colts. I'd say all the pressure is on the pathetic writer who proves on a weekly basis that he knows nothing about football and is working for a forgotten team that is suffering blackouts despite having a winning record. I'd say all the pressure is on Vic to find affordable housing in the greater Los Angeles area.

UPDATE: This is from the venerable Phil B. Wilson's blog:

Asked about the importance of Sunday's Colts-Jags game, Jags coach Jack Del Rio said something about how both the Colts and his team are 3-3 in their last six divisional games. Pause. Double pause. He said what? I'm guessing Del Rio is trying to suggest his Jags are just as good as the Colts. OK, maybe so, but the stat is as silly as it gets. Fact is, the Colts are 3-0 in the AFC South this year and the Jags are 2-2.

Okay, so I guess we know where Vic gets his brilliant information. Next we will be hearing that Del Rio is teaching a Statistics class in the evenings at Jacksonville State. Someone needs to remind JDR that the Colts are about to sweep the division.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brother can you spare a dime?

Dante Hughes is done for the year. An already thin Colts secondary has been dealt another (albeit minor) blow. Hughes has played sparingly this year (he did get torched for a long TD on Thursday), and had been somewhat slowed by injuries all year. He was competing for the third corner slot, but was playing mostly on special teams and dime coverage. The team signed another corner who had previously been with the Bucs (read: knows the system and slow). Keiwan Ratliff, welcome to the World Champs. I have nightmares of him getting beat by Jabar Gaffney in January.

Do I admit to being an idiot?

So let me give you some context for my dilemma. Tuesday night I'm heading out of town with my wife for a getaway. Demond calls and pulls the whole depressed voice, "guess who's out for the year" bit. He tells me Roosevelt Colvin is out. I have internet access for about 5 minutes the next day, and throw up a comment on his post. Some how, between the joy of being away from the kids for a night and limited connectivity, I crossed wires in my brain. Something in me became convinced that Richard Seymour was out. Today, I come back and note my mistake with horror. So now that I've already posted about how Colvin and Freeney do the same job for their teams (which they clearly don't), do I admit my mistake and expose myself as a moron, or do I just let it go and hope no one notices.

Obviously, I chose to fess up. I'm an idiot. The substance of what I said is still sort of true, but not nearly as true as it would have been had it been Seymour who was hurt. So anyway, that's my boring confession of the day.

Bob M. pointed out that Phil B is saying what we've suspected for some time. Marvin might not be back until January. I don't think any of us are really shocked by that. If he really might be done, the team would have IRed him. Other than that, I'll believe he's coming back when I actually see him line up.

Time to take out the trash

The biggest game of the regular season, according to Bill Polian, takes place this Sunday. The Colts have a chance to make things very easy for themselves by sweeping the Jags. It would all but lock up the AFC South title and put the Colts in great position for a bye with four games to play. Pittsburgh, currently the three seed, still has tough games remaining versus New England and Jacksonville.

Here's an article from the Orlando Sentinel focusing on Jacksonville's mindset heading into the big game. David Garrard thinks the Jags can win the division. Also, the speculation has begun that Del Rio's contract will be renegotiated after the season. This is great news. I was seriously afraid for awhile that JDR would get fired prompting the Jags to actually win the division the following season. Instead a guy who hasn't won a four-team division in five attempts gets more money and more years on his deal.

Also check out Whitlock's latest work for FoxSports. He takes a broad look at the Sean Taylor tragedy. I agree with Whitlock less than half the time, but count me among the people who think the IndyStar should do whatever it takes to hire this guy. I do not know how he would fit in the budget, but Kansas City is not exactly a major market either. I have nothing against Bob Kravitz who has been much better over the past year. He's even made it off my official Bill Simmons and other people I can't stand list. I just think Whitlock would sell papers and give us something to talk about.
Deshawn Zombie comments: For Dungy's take on this sad event, check out our buddy Phil B. Wilson's blog. It's a sad world we live in.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No Podcast, but we still have 18 Plays

The holidays and other factors have conspired against Demond and I getting together to record 18 Plays this week. If anyone is curious, here are the 18 Plays that we had selected:

Kansas City

Q1 1:38 4th and 16 AV yanks the kick. How freaked out were we all when this went down?

Q2 11:02 1st and 10 Manning pick. Another tipped pass. The lack of protection/deep routes had KC abandon the rush and just sit at the line tipping passes.

4:04 3rd and 5 Mathis Sack and fumble. A huge play by a guy we NEED to make huge plays

Q3 8:09 1st 10 Addai for 17 to the 3 sets up TD. How great was he? The line was a mess, but Kid Joe delivered anyway.

1:29 3rd and 7 Croyle for TD. I'm still not sure how transferring the ball from your hands to your knees constitutes control.

Q4 14:53 1st and 10 MJax blows up Holmes. He hits almost as hard as the Zombie,

8:18 2nd 15 Brock sack. This killed the final KC drive. Brock gets better every week. He's at the top of his game.

4:59 2nd 17 Manning to Wayne for 19. Just when you thought the drive was dead.

2:00 4th and 1 Manning sneak. I didn't think this was all that controversial. There was a good chance the Colts would get the ball in scoring position anyway.

Atlanta Game

Q1 3:34 3rd and 2 58 yard TD to White.
Rice was offsides. Hughes is a rookie. Rice is not. Now he's not a Colt.

:10 1st and 10 Manning to Gonzo for 35. The Microwave was huge all game long.

Q2 14:48 2nd and 23 Manning to Wayne TD

KO Norwood to the 44 plus 15 yards. This gives Falcons a FG. Hey there's the special teams we all know and love!

9:29 4th and 1 Colts punt, running into kicker. The penalty gives them a first down. I thought this call was gutless, and wanted the team to go for it. It worked out, but that doesn't mean it was right.

7:31 3rd and 8 Manning to Gonzo for 12. Wow, throws to a guy a who can catch on 3rd down? No wonder we won.

4:33 3rd and 5 Bethea KILLS Robinson. Just a massive hit. This play signaled the beginning of the end for the Falcons

4:07 1st and 10 Manning to Gonzo for 32. Manning jumps right down their throats and rips out their still beating hearts.

Q3 8:56 3rd and 10 Brock sacks Harrington. Again, pressure up the middle from the tackles makes the Indy impossible to beat. As long as Brock plays like this, we'll be ok the rest of the year.

Sorry we couldn't provide the usual depth of analysis that comes from rewatching the tape a ton of times, but it just wasn't possible. We'll shake ourselves and pull it together for this week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roosevelt Colvin on IR

The New England Patriots lost their only likable player when they placed Broad Ripple HS standout Roosevelt Colvin on IR today. It's official; there is no reason to like the Patriots. This is a big blow to Bill Belichick's squad given how well Rosie has played over the past few seasons. He is their youngest starting linebacker at the age of 30 and is one of their better defensive players. The Patriots have had an uncanny ability to overcome injuries during their Super Bowl years, but even so I believe this is a significant injury that will be felt come playoff time. I'd love to be able to tell you what exactly Colvin's injury is, but even his head coach does not seem to know.

Deshawn Zombie Comments: I hate injuries. I especially hate injuries to guys from Indy. I suppose, if there was going to be an injury that would offset Freeney's, this would be it. It's official, Colts fans can't complain about Freeney being hurt, because Colvin plays much the same role for the Pats. Both teams are down a key player, which is a shame.

In other news, says there is a growing rift between the Manning boys.

Freeney is obviously more important than Colvin, but I know where you are coming from. New England has been fortunate to only lose one defensive starter to IR this season. The Colts have lost McFarland, Morris, and Freeney.

Fried Rice

Well that was quick. Almost as soon as it began, the Simeon Rice experiment is over. Despite collecting a Mathis-induced sack last Thursday, the Colts released the pass rushing DE today. He hadn't made much impact in two games (he did sniff out a screen pass against KC, but jumped off side costing the Colts a score against Atlanta).

Hey, it was worth a try. Demond suspects the Colts will move Brock to the outside (he has been on a freaking tear of late), and use the rookies inside at DT. I think it's hard to move around a guy who has been ragingly effective inside. At any rate, Luke Lawton is back, which should help the special teams.

Good thing they let Kyle Brady walk

The ever-informative tells us that the Jags lost both TEs for the season during Sunday's game against Buffalo. That's an impressive feat. No word yet on whether injured LB Mike Peterson will play.

I think the story coming into this game has to be the play of QB David Gerrard. He has thrown 9 touchdowns and no interceptions for Jacksonville this season in eight games. Those numbers are far from explosive, but at least he's not turning the ball over like Leftwich. In the modern NFL that makes you a Pro Bowler. Then again, it is not exactly difficult to make the Pro Bowl. Just ask Vince Young and Philip Rivers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's Del Rio Week!

Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone's not a genius? Do you especially think I'm not a genius? . . . You didn't even have to think about it, did you?

Enjoy that bowl, Hoosiers...

because it'll be your last for awhile. IU proved today that they are not committed to winning at football by inexplicably rehiring Bill Lynch. Look, he did ok this year. JUST OK. Using another coach's players, he managed to chalk up exactly 1 impressive win (blowing a huge lead before coming back on Purdue is what passes for impressive 'round these parts). He isn't D 1 material, and shouldn't have been retained. I heard JMV (950 was playing college football) say last week that if IU hired some young gun, he'd just win and then leave the program for a better job. To this I say, "Yeah, but he'd have to WIN in order to do that!" I'd take two or three winning seasons, wouldn't you?

At this point I'm almost willing to see what Bill Mallory is doing. Bill Lynch is NOT the answer. IU will be back to 3-9 in two seasons.

Demond Sanders: I appreciate what Bill Lynch has done for Indiana this season. He played QB on my dad's high school team so I always root for him as a coach. However, I have to agree with DZ's take on this. The bottom line is Indiana doesn't have the money to spend on a football coach at this juncture. They are committed to spending money on the infrastructure and, of course, the basketball program. They are hoping Lynch can get them back to another bowl game or two in the next few years. I had hoped they would pick a younger version of Hep, someone motivated and ambitious. I believe Lynch puts a ceiling on what they can accomplish at least as far recruiting. I hope I'm wrong, but to me this is the definition of settling for less.

Thoughts on a Coltsless Sunday

  • Vince Young is finally killing the Titans. Once Haynesworth went down, their D couldn't carry the team anymore, and VY is getting exposed. He's playing basically the same as he has for the last year and a half. He hasn't changed, the Titans D has. Why can't he 'just win' games now?
  • I think it's pretty clear why the Eagles let Jeff Garcia walk. His back injury doesn't bode well for the Bucs.
  • Jags are going down this week. I think the Colts win big. (ok, I know. I say that every week).
  • Have any two 1 and 2 seeds ever fallen as hard and as fast as the Chargers and Ravens? Neither one of those teams is doing anything this year.
  • I know the Bears won, but that fourth down play was crazy. You can't exactly call that a high percentage deal. I doubt they complete that 5 times out of 50. (or 10% of the time for the fractionally challenged).
  • Cutler is becoming a player. Grossman is terrifying (in the bad sense). Why would anyone kick to Hester? The Bears block special teams plays exquisitely.
  • I think we all knew the Pats were coming back in that game; we've seen it from the Colts all the time. Really good teams don't lose that game, and it had the same kind of certainty that the Colts/KC game had last week. I'm not going to comment again on the weaknesses of the Pats that came out this game. We all know what they are. The rest of the NFL does too. What's important in this game is that the Pats handled the pressure well and won. STYLE POINTS DON'T MATTER. Wins matter. This win is just as good for the Pats at 31-28 as it would have been at 40-10. Brady made his best case of the year for MVP.
  • It's still amazing to me that the Dolphins would have traded Welker in order to draft Ted Ginn Jr. That exchange makes incredibly little sense. There is no one home in the front offices of the Dolphins.

Demond Sanders: Miami and Oakland should be kicked out of the league for those idiotic trades last year. Still, I wasn't terribly surprised that the Eagles played the Pats so closely. The New England defense hasn't been the same the last couple of years. Losing Roosevelt Colvin early in the game didn't help any. The Eagles offensive line did a good job and their receivers made catches. The Colts did neither of these things in their game against the Pats.

The Patriots offense is hard to stop, but the Eagles and Colts showed you can slow them down by doing exactly what teams have done to the Colts for the past couple years. Take away the deep ball and force them to throw underneath. This shortens the game and forces the offense to play mistake-free. The Patriots won last night because they didn't turn the ball over, but Brady had several balls that could have been intercepted. The Eagles may have won if they had managed to force just one turnover. Credit the Patriots for a tough win, but the quest for perfection just gets tougher from here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Big deals and small time operators

Anyone who has followed the Reds for the last two seasons knows that they have have solid core of talent, and even a top flight ace in the rotation, but the bullpen has been horrible. Basically, GM Wayne Krivsky has a mandate to win from ownership, and spent all last season signing relievers. Few of them worked out. For the record, I don't blame him, a GM who tries to address the team's weaknesses gets a pass from me for a time. Once again, the Reds have ponied up in a BIG way, signing Francisco Cordero away from the division rival Brewers. This is potentially a GREAT move, and certainly gives the Reds hope for this next year. 46 million is a big number for a reliever, but the Reds were desperate. It ain't money ball, but live arms are hard to find, and were the main thing keeping this team out of contention. As one poster on a Reds message board wrote: Great pickup. If Jim Bowden was still running the team, he probably would have signed Joe Kennedy this morning. HA!

Eric Gordon is insane. I know it's waaaay early to say it, so don't stone me, but he just might become the best player ever to play at IU (ok, it'll be freaking impossible to be better than Zeke), but still he's pretty freaking amazing.

What a HUGE win for the blue and gold last night. I personally don't buy into the "blame JO for everything" school of thought, but it's undeniable that the offense ran better. Dunleavy is working out quite nicely, but I'm not sold on Troy Murphy. A win over Cleveland on Sunday would get the Pacers back to .500 and put them squarely in the conversation for being one of the 7 or 8 best teams in the East. Ugh, I hate that I have to write that sentence.

Several have mentioned hating the Gumbel/Collinsworth team on Thursday night. There are actually multiple things at work here, but the primary one is the intentional style that they use. NFL network has made a conscious choice to try and pioneer a new announcing style (they call it 'conversational') in all their games. The idea is for Gumbel not to narrate the game with play by play but rather to chair a discussion with Collinsworth. It doesn't help that Collinsworth has always been a major Manning critic, has two settings to his voice (drone and shrill), and generally ignores things that don't support his commentary (I nailed several of those in the game blog). Look, I'm biased. I've hated CC since he was on Sports Talk on WLW in the early 90s. He knew NOTHING about baseball and embarrassed himself nightly. All that being said, the crew is not working, and it practically put me to sleep. Everyone doesn't have to be Gus Johnson, but still. . . a little emotion wouldn't hurt anything.

Finally, I think I'm going to start calling Anthony Gonzalez "The Microwave."


Colts 31 - Falcons 13

Friday, November 23, 2007

If a Falcon falls in a forest...

Is it weird to anyone else that there is so little postgame coverage of last night's Thanksgiving tilt? I mean, honestly, other than a Len Pasquarelli piece, and the normal Indystar stuff, it's like this game never happened. Most of the country didn't see it (although it turns out that Demond did get to watch it because his wife's grandparents have a dish), and since the outcome was more or less expected, there just isn't much to say about it. I did pick up a couple of things from around the web.

Si's Jim Trotter misses the point about Randy Moss, Jason Whitlock doesn't. Moss is the MVP. This ought to be one of the most inarguable facts of the season. Trotter says last season taints this one, and he's almost right. It taints his career. It taints his HoF candidacy. This season, however, is a self-contained unit. I don't care how big a dog Moss was in Oakland, he's the MVP right now. I wouldn't vote for him for the hall based on his on the field actions the last couple of years (though no one can deny he is the single most unstoppable weapon in NFL history), but the only thing to be considered for an MVP award is this year. This year, he's the best.

And finally, Peyton goes shopping.

I was right, I was wrong

Sorry I didn't cover the second half, but here are my reflections on the game in general.

1. Eyes in the Backfield was pretty freaking accurate for these past two games. Rice got a sack (thanks to Mathis), but Josh Thomas made some plays. Ugoh being out continued to plague the offense, and TJ Rushing returned and was playing in the secondary. Also the thing about the turkeys. I just didn't realize the Falcons would be dressing them all in uniforms.

2. Charlie Johnson is approaching Gilbert Gardner territory. Only his great play in the Super Bowl last year is saving him (that and he might be a perfectly serviceable guard). Was anyone surprised to see him on the sidelines in the second half? I have to go back and check the tape as to when he left the game, but it's curious that the protection dramatically improved in the second quarter.

3. Tonight was a great game by Manning. The pick was a bad decision, as he had a man hanging on his leg which led him to underthow the pass, but in general, he was dealing while under duress. Clearly, they found a weakness in the middle of the field with the TEs and exploited it.

4. Maybe I was wrong about how much the receivers mattered. That is simply a different team with Anthony Gonzalez out there. Tonight was exciting, as he showed flashes of why they drafted him in the first round. I agree with Phil B, this team is undefeated if he had played the second half of the NE game and the SD game. Again, it's not an excuse, but his play had to make everyone feel better.

5. Antoine Bethea. . . um, he's pretty good. About the only bad play I've seen him make in a year in and half was giving up the deep ball to Moss after dropping a pick. He hits hard and makes big plays. The Colts secondary isn't deep (tough night for the rookie Dante Hughes - but he'll learn), but the top four are serious players. I'll stack Bethea, Sanders, Jackson and Hayden against any team's starting secondary.

6. So maybe I jumped the gun when I declared the game over when the Colts punted on 4th and 1. I just really hate punting in those situations. The Falcons proved that going for it on 4th and short generally works out ok. I suppose I should call Dungy a genius for planning that penalty. I'll blame it on Demond not being around nor answering his phone all night. Normally, he's the psycho roof jumper, and I have to be calm and positive. Without his need for me to be stable, I went a little nuts. It's the holidays. Happens to everyone.

7. I was glad to hear the conversation about "Is Dungy a genius?". Listen, he's added more innovation to the game than Holmgren or Billick. His record is far superior. He's one Super Bowl away from being mentioned with the greatest to ever coach the game. He definitely deserves as much credit for being a great coach as those two. Listen, he gets lots of love from the media, but always for being a great man. That's wonderful, and ultimately the more important reason to be praised; I'm just saying that he deserves props for his ability as a coach. At the end of this season, we'll update the numbers for his Hall of Fame credentials. This year has been one of his finest jobs. It's easy to forget that this great defense he has installed is starting players who have almost exclusively only ever played for Indianapolis, and is featuring new starters at a boatload of positions.

8. I think we all can feel good heading into the Jacksonville game next week. Hopefully, we'll have our tackles back, and the team will be nearly at full strength. As I noted earlier this week, it's not quite a must win for the Colts as we'll still have the AFC South lead even if we lose, but a win seals the deal. Let's make this division a laugher by December 3.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Demond should be back with this week's picture and possibly 18 Plays tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm going to spend the weekend going to the Heritage and Pike games on Friday and Saturday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Colts Falcons live game blog

Ok, guys, I'm caving. I debated whether or not to blog the game tonight. But I'm going to start for a little while. Chris Collinsworth is an idiot and might drive me to drink before the end of the night. Demond won't be around to help me. He's caught in the grips of the NFL Network controversy. He's visiting family in NW Indiana and is probably caught in some dive trying to convince some bartender named Big Joe to let him watch the game. Or he's at Hooters. I'm going to blog a quarter or so and see how my energy holds up. Turkey make Zombie sleepy.

  • They miked up the Zombie. I'm pretty sure I heard him say, "Mmmmm, brains."
  • Collinsworth says, "Dungy has been a defensive minded coach all his life." Other than that little thing about playing QB at Minnesota.
  • As a general rule of thumb, it's nearly impossible to stop a team when they go for 4th downs. It's distressing, but also predictable to see the draw plays be so effective. The Colts had this area pretty well fixed early in the season, but it's still the best option when it comes to running against Indy.
  • Early on this game reminds me of the Carolina game. Joey Harrington is saving us by being his usual crappy self. Great pressure ends the drive with a field goal try. It's nice to see Rice chasing Harrington down.
  • Crap scares everyone, but it appears the whistle saved us. Let's face it folks, he's a bit scary. Geeze, I just used scare twice in two sentences. I'm not exactly lighting it up thesaurus-wise.
  • Hey, nice job O line. The Charlie Johnson nightmare tour continues. Meanwhile, Collinsworth says, "The Colts try to run this play without a tight end in to block leading to the sack" He apparently misses Dallas Clark whiff on the blitzing linebacker. This line is an embarrassment. Manning is going to get killed before it's all over.
  • A stupid penalty gives the Falcons a touchdown. This team is 100% out of sorts right now. Hughes gets beat deep as he plays up tight in man coverage.
  • Addai stays down after a first down run. Just kill me now. I notice that Peyton ignored Keith coming out of the backfield on 3rd down. He has no confidence in his ability to catch a 3rd down throw.
  • Only a safety can keep the wheels from completely spinning off right now.
  • Ok, so no safety but a nice stand. We actually gained yardage on the exchange of possessions. We can only hope that Joe Addai is ok.
  • HEY! Was that Aaron Moorehead out there catching? No? Oh wow.


  • Wow. The Fletcher sabotages a TD and then drops a pass. Nice series man.
  • Seriously great play by Manning as the line gives him time to throw down field. That was a huge score. Terrific throw with time for Wayne to get open.
  • How can guys who have contain continue to overpursue? There was no reason for that to be a big return. The penalties and stupid mistakes are piling up.
  • The D is under serious pressure now. Holding them to FG is a win in this situation. Don't think that's going to happen. White is killing us.
  • Great play by Keiaho to cover the slot receiver and then kick away a pass. There's the FG, which isn't bad considering where the drive started.
  • I like the decision to come out running (and not just because I have Keith in fantasy). I think it's the best (only?) way to keep the pressure off #18. I think they ought to go for this 4th down.
  • Nope a punt. Loser football. This game is over. OOOOOH a roughing call might just save us. Still, you can't punt there. ATL already showed they were the aggressor. You have to match it.
  • Wow, a Thanksgiving miracle. A penalty to save the drive AND Kid Joe comes back. Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is razor thin.
  • Bad throw by Petyon on 2nd down. On a huge 3rd down play, AG proves again how much we missed him.
  • How do we possibly have the lead? Again, they have played terrible in spots and still have points on the board. The Colts have clearly found something on those passes to the TE over the middle. Clark runs the same pattern that Utecht had successfully executed earlier in the drive.
  • The D really has to be on that draw play. It's killing us all night.
  • BETHEA LIGHTS UP ROBINSON! What a sick hit. Hilarious hold on the return.
  • Um, does anyone think we missed AG a little?
  • Manning is KILLING the Falcons. Wow, somebody flipped a switch on this club. From the minute that penalty was called, this game took a major turn. That was a great catch by Utecht.
  • Mathis blows up the play, and Simeon Rice collects a sack. Um, Collinsworth, if the Falcons WERE comfortable with where they were, they aren't now. They are down 8 and the Colts get back to back possessions. This could get ugly real quick.
  • Instead the line gets ugly real quick.

Family crap (God bless the holidays) has made it so I can't really finish blogging this game. Hopefully the second half goes well. Good night everyone.

Let me explain (one more time)

Buried in the comments this week was the bizarre rant of a Pats fan who clearly hasn't been paying attention.

Mossi says: you people live in a bizzaro land. it's awesome. quick - what's more pathetic than a pats fan reading a colts blog? hmm, lemme think...ah i got it, whining about the pats on every monday morning post and then spending the rest of the week commenting about one of the greatest NFL teams in history. keep it up peeps, it's great entertainment!take this to bed with ya - Brady won three superbowls with exactly ONE WR who had over 1,000 yards. ONE. talk about lack of firepower but still found a way to get it done.thank god for your sake peyton had marvin and wayne last year.. oh and the fact the competition was a high school JV football. phew..

Ok Mossi, let's take this piece by piece.

1. Whining about the Pats this year - I pretty clearly said in that same post that I wasn't going to comment on this year's Pats. There just no point until in January.

2. Brady won Super Bowls with 1 WR. and

3. Did he really call the 2006 Pats a JV team?

Let's examine the thinking behind #2, because Pats fans have been talking a lot about it.

1. WR is faaaaaaar from the most important position on a football team. Brady tagged along on three teams with amazing defenses. He didn't 'get it done' despite a lack of firepower. He managed the games so his freaking amazing D and kicker could win the games. These are his point totals in the playoff games he won: 16, 20, 17, 24, 32, 20, 34, 24. In four of his seven wins, the Pats didn't even score 3 TDs. He didn't get it done with a lack of firepower, his defense did. He did have a huge game against Pittsburgh in the championship game in 2005, so that's to his credit, but most of his playoff point totals were modest at best. That's not a criticism. He did just enough to win given the defense he had. Just don't act like he pulled of some herculean task by single handedly willing the Pats to victory. He managed games effectively and let his D take over. You don't NEED WRs to win that kind of game.

2. HE DIDN'T NEED WRs BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE A PASSING OFFENSE, MORON. Their offense was constructed in an entirely different way than the Colts offense is. It's apples to oranges. Because of the great defense, the Pats had constructed an offense built around short routes and ball control. The Colts offense tries to spread the field and stretch the defense vertically. In this style of offense, having speedy receivers is much more critical to the team's success.

3. In addition, the injuries to the receiving corp ISN'T THE PROBLEM WITH THE COLTS. Injuries to the line are. I know the media keeps focusing on Harrision being out, but the truth is the loss of both the right and left tackle are much much bigger problems. We've beaten this death, but you obviously aren't paying attention.

4. No one felt bad for Brady not having WRs last year because it was the PATS OWN DAMN FAULT THEY TRADED BRANCH. Look, if you don't have WRs because they got hurt it's bad luck, but if you trade away your best wideout, you don't get to bitch and whine about not having wideouts. The Pats brass decided that WRs weren't important (see points number 1 and 2), and therefore didn't have them. If Branch had blown out his knee, you'd have a case. Just because your team was arrogant and stupid and cost themselves a title by trading him him is no reason for anyone else to pity poor Tommy Boy.

5. If the Colts had started the year with these wideouts, they'd be playing much better. There's a big difference between starting the year with bad WRs and having them thrust on your offense mid season. Moorehead was fourth on the depth chart and moved up to two. Thorpe didn't even make the team. These guys haven't had the benefit of major reps with the starting offense, thus the Colts can't run the no huddle, change plays offense they need to. Manning can't trust them to get the plays and adjust the way they are supposed to. They are trying to run a deep down-field timing offense not a west coast dink and dunk offense the way the Pats did for most of this decade.

In short, Mossi. Your comment was ignorant not only of the Colts situation, but of your own team's makeup and philosophy. That's really weak man. If you don't understand the Colts, fine. They aren't your team. But if you can't understand your own club, that's just embarrassing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good Bye Aaron and SeatGate

Aaron Moorehead has almost assuredly played his last game for the Colts. A preseason stalwart who had a good radio show, he was unproductive the last few weeks and has been placed on IR by the club, ending his season and likely his career with this club. He finally got his chance to play, and it was evident to everyone with two eyes that he couldn't cut it. On the bright side, Dan Klecko is back.

I want to mention a couple of things I've seen around the web in various places. Several sites have mentioned that Manning "only lost one weapon" over the past few weeks. These people would count Anthony Gonzalez as a back up and think that offensive line play is an afterthought. We've been saying for weeks that the loss of Tony Ugoh is responsible for the slow start in Carolina and the losses to NE and SD and crap fest that was KC. The losses of Diem and Ugoh are ENORMOUS and can't be overemphasized. There is almost no elite offense in football that could adequately function with back ups at both tackle slots. Manning could have survived with the WRs (as bad as they were), but the O line play made it impossible. One site suggested Manning ditch his pride and call run plays. Uh, don't you need holes for run plays to work? Colts running backs have had more -5 and -3 yard carries in the last three weeks than at any time in the last couple of years. Addai has played better than I've ever seen a running back play and barely chalked up 70 yards a game the last two weeks. I'm not trying to apologize for Manning; I'm just trying to give the ACTUAL source of the trouble as opposed to simplistic minds who blame all losses and all wins on the quarterback.

There is other stuff that is bugging me, but it's more NE related crap that won't go away until January (when it will dissipate in a cloud of inevitable hilarity) so there is no point in getting worked up over it.

The seating assignments for the new stadium are out and not everyone is happy. Rob has informed us that the Star is doing a piece on this issue tomorrow, so we are going to hold off commenting too much until it comes out, and it becomes clear how many fans are affected, but I thought you all would appreciate his thoughts and the team's response. Our tickets are in a different section, and it appears that our new seats are basically in the same (as much as is possible) spot as the old ones. It's unclear if this issue affected only the endzones or other blocks of seats as well. If you have had a similar experience to Rob, let us know.

Demond Sanders: You make a good point about the number of run plays that have resulted in negative yardage. It's like Dominic Rhodes is in the backfield again. The Colts were one of the best rushing teams in the league through the first 8 weeks of the season. Now Addai has to dodge three guys to get back to the line of scrimmage. Kenton Keith gets stoned for a loss every time he enters the game. Something is amiss and it has nothing to do with Manning.

I would like to share my experience with the ticket conversion. Our current tickets are in Section 343 on the aisle. Our new tickets will be in Section 616 on the aisle. We will still be located in the upper level on about the ten yard line. The only real difference is that we got moved two rows backwards, which is not a huge deal. It would appear they did a very good job of matching our current seats. Of course until we actually sit in the new building we won't have any idea whether or not we were jobbed. Who is to say Section 616 is the same distance from the field?

I think one of the factors that hurt Rob is the end zone seats are drastically cheaper than the seats on the sides, like ours. A single ticket for Section 616 was tentatively scheduled to cost $640 per season, while a ticket in the upper end zone was scheduled to cost $240. Not only are there fewer of those seats, according to the Colts, but they are likely in very high demand because of the affordability factor. Rob's current tickets are in the $640 range so I guess the Colts moved him over to what they feel corresponds to that price range in Lucas Oil. What I don't understand, however, is why they wouldn't honor his clear request to stay in the end zone? He has had first row end zone seats for 20 years. If anyone should get priority it should be those ticket holders.

Update: Here's the link to the Phil B. piece. It seems that this is an isolated and not wide spread problem. What had really infuriated him was the thought that the team was jacking over the whole fanbase. Rob writes:

DZ, Thanks having you guys and Phil to share this with has helped more then anything else. I'm trying to keep this all in perspective, but every person I talk to about it just keeps raising my Blood Pressure. I'll keep you guys in the loop. I'm glad that you didn't get screwed, I'm really hoping that our situation is fairly isolated, that would actually help in some way. For some reason, it would be better in my mind if some weird concoction of circumstances led us to getting such bad placement while the vast majority of ticket holders were given fair treatment. It wouldn't change our situation but = this isn't a feeling I want to be sharing with a ton of people. It will be very interesting at the next home game to find out where others in our area were moved to.Thanks for letting me vent to you and via your blog. You guys are great, at this point I want to stay connected about the Colts mostly just to keep sharing with you and the other bloggers out there. Thanks

No problem man. If other people out there aren't happy, let us know, but for now, we'll call it a bad break and let it go.

Uncle Bill offers some hope

There have been a couple of unintended consequences of doing a Colts blog and sharing our experiences as fans with you all. One is that I feel a sense of richness about wins and losses that I missed. I've been living overseas for a long time, so other than calls to Demond and my dad, I felt disconnected from other fans. I've enjoyed that aspect of things much more than I would have guessed. The other consequence is that it's forced me to stay engaged and 'in touch' with my Colts related pain. In years past when the Horse would lose, I'd be a bit depressed, and would basically not touch the computer for a week. I wouldn't read articles (other than the safe haven of the Star), or watch the game again until very late the next week. Now with 18to88, I feel like I have to keep up on things way more than I used. So after two losses and an ugly win, and with half the team looking like the revolutionary war fife and drum corp (I went looking for the classic picture of them all bandaged up and couldn't find one-anyone out there have my back?), I still have to be engaged emotionally with football when normally, I'd do everything possible to avoid thinking about the team until after a win. I take it too hard to say engaged. I don't know how Demond can do it, because he's even more depressive about things than I am.

That being said, Polian's comments in the Star this morning give us some hope on Marvin. He offered up the first detailed description of his injury to date, and it doesn't look like he's d-o-n-e. Tony also said AG and Ugoh could well be back Thursday, thus giving the O a game to try and get some rhythm back before Jacksonville.

Also, one more note of encouragement about the AFC South situation. Jacksonville has two division losses already. For them to win the division, they would have to go undefeated AND hope that Indy loses a second game (other than the Jhole game), or they could lose a game if Indy loses two games within the division. They still have to play at Indy, Pitt and Houston. I don't like their chances.

I think we mentioned this, but 18 Plays will come out Friday or Saturday and will encompass 9 plays from Sunday's game and 9 from Thursday's.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It feels like we are right back to where we were three or four weeks ago doesn't it? The Patriots are mauling an AFC East team, so everyone assumes it's metaphysically impossible to beat them. Meanwhile, Peyton "Hawkeye" Manning and his lovable band of wacky military doctors are just sort of plugging along. You all should know by now how we feel about the rest of this season...nothing counts until January. I suppose that's slightly overblown, as in 13 days, the Colts should have a pretty tough matchup with the Jholes, but in essence it's true. The Colts can afford one and possibly even two losses and still have the two seed. It's not about playing well, it's about getting healthy.

That being said, the lack of pressure was disturbing yesterday from the D-line. It was pressure that keyed the defense against the Patriots in the first half, and when that ran out, the Pats hit some big plays. Watching the NE game yesterday (admittedly, only for about a half a quarter) it looked like a return to the Brady-has-a-half-an-hour-to-throw-days of several weeks ago. I'm still a little baffled by how horribly bad these teams play against the Pats. The Bills had an awful game plan and horrible execution. I think that bad weather in January will help slow NE down, but in the end it's going to take consistent pressure on Brady to win. Freeney's injury may kill us all yet.

I think we've all come to accept that Marvin isn't coming back anytime soon. My best guess: they'll roll him out for the playoffs after being out all season. Why? Simply put, they haven't put him on IR. The Colts are incredibly thin right now and desperately need the roster slot (they cut a staple veteran every week just to make the roster limits). If Marvin absolutely wasn't playing, they'd put him on IR. At this point, I think they are keeping him around just to trot him out against Pittsburgh and NE. Or he could play Thursday, who knows?

A couple of quick links (remember those?): FO still likes the Colts as the only real challenger to the Pats.
Peter King thought going for it on fourth down was crazy. I was espousing Dungy's logic yesterday, that the Chiefs were likely to be forced to punt to the Colts, and they would have a chance to move into FG range anyway. The real mistake was taking the timeout with 6 instead of 2 seconds left. Demond mentioned it yesterday, but I've seen lots of coaches do this. I'm not sure why. We did it against Denver last year as well. I get doing that on 3rd down, in case of a bad snap, but on 4th down why not just let the clock run down to 2 secs? Lots of coaches do that and it just makes no sense.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Colts 13 - Chiefs 10

Back from the Dome

Well, they didn't win by 70. They didn't win 30-0. They won 13-10. The game ended in an eerily similar fashion to last week. The Colts needed to have a game-winning six minute drive. They had a huge fourth and inches. This time they went for it. Ball game.

  • Can anyone tell me why Dungy left 6 seconds on the clock? I know they won the game, but does that decision make sense to anyone? Inform me.
  • Why was Charlie Johnson allowed to play the whole game. He never got better. He was rattled. Others on the line had struggles as well. Manning usually had to dodge two men before he could get a throw off. Batted balls galore.
  • Joseph Addai had 106 total yards. Hard-fought yards. Amazing. He's the best player on the Colts right now and it's not close. Great jump cut on the touchdown run. Insane 9 yard run at the end of the game. Scary good.
  • The defense didn't pitch a shut out, but it felt like they did. They were on the field all day and showed very little sign of it. Josh Thomas had a solid day, but they didn't generate as much pressure as would have hoped. The defense is light-years ahead of the offense right now. They'll need to have a huge game against Atlanta. Yes, I realize Atlanta is horrible. Yes, the Indy offense is that bad right now. Yes, it is the line's fault.
  • DZ and I had this conversation on AIM after the game:

Deshawn Zombie (4:36:06 PM): Charile Johnson is so horrible
Deshawn Zombie (4:36:14 PM): I'm insane with rage

Demond Sanders (4:36:18 PM): he actually depressed me
Demond Sanders (4:36:24 PM): like psychologically

  • If you were like me you were sitting there at halftime thinking, "So this is how it's going to be?" Some seasons just end when enough guys get hurt. Happens every couple of seasons. The Colts have been fortunate with injuries for the bulk of Manning's career. If they make any kind of playoff run, I'll be impressed with their guts. This should be fascinating to watch how it plays out.
  • I booed Adam Vinatieri in the first half. I've seen situations where I felt booing was wrong, but this wasn't one of them. Quit missing kicks and we'll stop booing. I clapped for AV too, and cheered him on, but he deserved to be booed for those misses. That said, I'm glad he got the chance to make the game winning kick. Hopefully that killed his yips for good.
  • I can't figure out why Crap Thorpe wasn't used earlier as a receiver. I feel bad for Moorehead, but he isn't working out. Also, I liked the game Fletcher played last week. I know he's the third string TE, but he makes plays.

Deshawn Zombie comments: Today is a perfect lesson that style points don't count in the NFL, just wins. We won a few of these clunkers last year (Buffalo, Tennessee). The line was awful, the receivers couldn't catch passes, all of which left Manning off rhythm. Jake Scott is clearly no more a tackle than Charlie Johnson. Let's hope he isn't playing there past Thursday. Joe Addai is a freaking football genius. He had no holes and was an absolute beast in all areas of the game, even blocking Jared Allen WAAAAAAAY better than either Utech or Charlie Johnson. As for Vinatieri...who knows. Tasker kept saying he was hurt, but then said he wouldn't talk about it. This left me wondering how he knew he was hurt. His distance was fine (the 49 yarder had plenty of leg), and the kickoffs weren't any less deep than normal. We need to take care of business in the short week, get healthy and move on.

Did anyone catch Dan Dierdorf saying after the Chargers/Jholes game, "The Colts are looking in their rear view mirror, and they see Jack Del Rio's face smiling back at them"...hee hee. It's true, and that's why I'm not sweating the division title.

Also, so much for Pittsburgh being a super power. I've seen them play a lot. They are good...good enough to beat anybody on any given day, but they are also woefully inconsistent and people who thought they were going 13-3 or 14-2 are nuts. 13-3 is my magic number for the Colts to have the number two seed. We need to crap out another win Thursday night over an inferior club and then use the 10 day 'second bye week' to get guys healthy again. Oh, and just in case anyone out there thought the Pats weren't pissed about getting held to 24 by Indy should ask Buffalo how they feel right now. I watched enough of that game to see a Buffalo safety choose NOT to cover Randy Moss on a deep ball, and thought, "Well, there's no point in leaving this crap on". It was the first quarter.

Chiefs Pre-game

I haven't felt like blogging about the Colts much this week, but it is time to get back to winning. Today's opponent at the RCA Dome is the Kansas City Chiefs. KC has a slightly better than average defense and a very poor offense. It is kind of amazing that they are 4-5. They've been outscored by 38 points on the season. They'll be starting Priest Holmes at running back today. Remember 4 years ago when those words would have scared you to death? Brodie Croyle from Alabama will be the starting quarterback.

For the fifth straight week injuries are the story-line for the Colts. It will be very interesting to see how Simeon Rice and Josh Thomas play. Freeney hasn't been a numbers guy for several seasons, but he helped prevent the big play by forcing shorter throws. I wouldn't be shocked if there was a significant drop-off in the pass defense, but I'm not expecting one. I'm not sure what to expect on the offensive side of the ball. Dallas Clark is back, but the Colts will have a very makeshift line with Ugoh and Johnson out. Joseph Addai had a tough game last week partiallly because the field was extremely slick. He'll be back to his Pro Bowl form this week.

Did you know that the Colts have lost six of the eleven starters off their Super Bowl defense? Today the Colts D sends a message to the league. We're not going away. Look for the Colts to post what I believe would be their first shutout of the decade. The offense will be good enough for a 30-0 win.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Playing 13

Whether you are a Hoosier fan or not you gotta love seeing the boys finish Hep's mission. Indiana is going to a bowl for the first time in a long, long time.

Haiku Power

If anyone hasn't read the comments on yesterday's Asian poetry themed post, make sure you do. It's haiku mania here at 18to88. Seriously nice work people.

Saturday is by far our slowest traffic day around here at That means I probably should have gotten around to posting Eyes in the Backfield yesterday. It didn't happen though... A friend suggest that I 'tease' Eyes here on the blog so people realize what it is, so here is that 'tease':

Simply because we are lazy, we've combined Eyes in the Backfield for the next two games. It's easy to see them as a unit and a prelude to the big rematch with Jacksonville, so we'll confess that we are indeed guilty of looking ahead just a bit. This week:

1. Watch for Rice-a-roni. Not to go all Chris Berman on you early, but Simeon Rice should get some very limited playing time in these first two games. No one is overly optimistic that he’ll contribute much (and certainly not until the long layoff before Jacksonville), but it should be interesting to see what he can do mostly in nickel packages where he can just rush the passer. More importantly, see if Josh Thomas can continue his solid play this year in an expanded role. He usually makes a play or two a game as a spot rusher. He’s the real answer at LDE.

There are 17 more lovely nuggets of truth on Eyes each week, so check it out.

Finally, THE DEVILS DO IT AGAIN! Pike has played three insane games in three weeks, but will now take on Carmel in the state championship game at the dome next Saturday. This is a classic matchup of good vs evil as...wait, never mind. I get carried away sometimes. I suppose 88 reasons to hate Carmel would be overkill wouldn't it? 18to88 will be present for next week's game and will give you all a full report. I know you can't wait.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ode to Dwight

Deshawn Zombie and I are working on our newest feature story for It's called 93 Haikus about Dwight Freeney. Here are a few examples:

Sweat drips down Carr's face
He can't stop what is coming
Another spleen bruise

Gray stands like a statue
Crumpling under Freeney's weight
Two points on the board

Love you ninety-three
Why'd you have to break your foot?
Damn damn damn damn damn

Rounding third and heading for home...

A baseball icon passed yesterday. Cincinnati Reds announcer and symbol Joe Nuxhall headed home to glory after a long bout with cancer. He was 79. Joe's was one of the voices that ushered me into the world of baseball, as I listened to him every summer from my 10th birthday. He was the youngest man to ever play Major League Baseball, coming to his hometown Reds at the age of 15 during WWII. For more than 60 years, he was a faithful representative of the game and team he loved. Together with his Hall of Fame partner Marty Brennaman, he brought the game to life each and every night. By all accounts, Joe was one of the finest men alive and had dedicated himself to helping troubled youth. He was the heart and soul of baseball in Cincinnati in a way that only Peter Edward could rival, but unlike Rose, he never failed us, never let us down. The Old Left Hander is a man that ought to be inducted into the Hall of Fame under the new Buck O'Neil Award. He was an amazing ambassador for the game, and world is lesser place without him. His passing signals the passing of an epoch in both baseball and American life that can not be retrieved. The world is moving on.

I cried as I wrote this. O Dischordia. O Loss. Thanks, Nuxy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Star of the Game

I just wanted to call your attention to a couple of items in the Star today. First off, check Phil B's blog entry about Freeney. Freeney always seemed (seems-I mean, he's not exactly dead) like a really great guy, and Phil B's mournful entry confirms that.

Also, on the good news front, Clark, Ugoh, and Junior Seau Jr. were back at practice. This will help considerably.

Tomorrow, we'll be posting Eyes in the Backfield for both KC and Atlanta (one column for both games). We will probably only being doing one podcast for both games as well. It's really tough to invest the 3 hours or so it takes to prepare, record and edit the podcast more than once in the week.

Demond Sanders: Here's a good story from Jeffri Chadiha about the loss of Freeney and Indy's prospects for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'll believe it when he goes on IR

The Star claims Freeney is done for the year. Or rather, the headline says that. The text of the article is less certain. We thought this was true of Dallas Clark last year as well (different injury I know), but he did make it back. Earlier this season, it was said that Eli Manning had a separated throwing shoulder and was out for weeks, and maybe the season; he played that Sunday. Injuries are weird, and Freeney might be out, but let's just see what the team does. If they keep him off IR for a week or two (something they can't afford to do because of the number of guys hurt), it says they still have hope. Otherwise, we'll know by the weekend.

UPDATE: I guess I believe it. It's official; he's on IR and is done for the year. Weeeeeeelll, that sucks.

Demond Sanders: This team has spent the past two weeks proving that they don't believe in excuses. Unfortunately they didn't win either of those games, but they made their point nonetheless. I still think they can beat New England and win the Super Bowl. Simeon Rice can be this year's Booger McFarland. The ex-Buc who enters mid-season to help his old coach win it all with a new team. Or he could be worthless. . .

Straight from the bottle

Is how Demond was drinking his wine while recording this week's 18 Plays. And no, I'm not making that up. Here's an actual transcript of our conversation once the red light went off:

DZ: Man, we were a little surly tonight. Do you really hate Adam Vinatieri like you said?
Demond: Yeah, I spent the last hour drinking wine straight from the bottle.

We are a little more sour than even last week, but some vestiges of our sense of humor remain. As always you can catch us on the website as linked above or subscribe via Itunes.

May I just point out to everyone who shares Demond's murderous inclinations toward AV, that love for Vinatieri is what separates us from the animals.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Season of the Damned?

ESPN is reporting tonight that an anonymous source says that Dwight Freeney might be out for the season. This is very bad and very predictable news. The dreaded Lisfranc injury was the first thing that popped into our minds when we saw Freeney's foot wrapped.

What if I had told you last January that the Colts would play much of 2007 without Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Nick Harper, Jason David, Cato June, Dominic Rhodes, Booger McFarland, Rob Morris, Tarik Glenn, and their first and second round draft picks?

Your response would have fallen into one of two categories:

1.) Does Bob Sanders play the whole season? Yeah? Oh, then we'll be fine.

2.) Awesome! We're getting the #1 pick in the 2008 draft.

Let's hope Freeney is fine and just needs to rest his foot for a month or two. He was great at San Diego and in my opinion he is worth every cent for his ability to collapse the pocket. This wouldn't spell the end of the season, but it sure feels that way.

I feel like I owe you some good news. The Colts are 15 point favorites over Kansas City at home on Sunday. Larry Johnson has been ruled out. Also, Brodie Croyle will be the starting quarterback. The fans of Indianapolis will be angry and the team will be out for blood. At this point I think it is best to take the Jim Mora Sr. approach and not worry about the playoffs. We're just trying to win a game.

DZ Comments: We are going to try and do 18 Plays tonight, so look for it tomorrow. In the meantime, read Dr. Z saying that Sunday night was one of Manning's finest hours. It's amazing how many great games he's lost on missed field goals. Sunday night he played awful for about a half and amazing for about a half. Still, you had to feel like we had a chance. With most teams, you turn off the TV down 23; with Manning at QB, you keep watching, because even though they might not win, you know it'll be close.

As far as the injuries go, we can only hope that an easier 2nd half schedule will give the Colts time to recover. Otherwise, it's 1996 all over again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

You know you have a lot of injuries when...

you have to claim Simeon Rice off the scrap heap. Well, the good news is that with KC and Atlanta coming up, we might be able to cobble together 35 warm bodies and field a semi-competitive team. Ye gads, has it really come to this?

What matters and what doesn't

I was up until 4 AM after the game tonight because I was so frustrated. Here are my thoughts on about 5 hours sleep:

  • while it would have made the night a lot more fun and the week a lot easier if AV doesn't push that kick. It probably doesn't matter much in the big picture. The Colts finished the hell stretch of the schedule 2-2 after losing two brutally frustrating games. They will likely finish 13-3...
  • Unless the injuries are too much to overcome. We didn't lose that game last night because of injuries. We lost because of horrible play by Manning and Adam Vinatieri and the special teams. That being said, there are now so few healthy guys, that it makes you wonder how we'll field a team next week. We might remember this game for a long, but not for the reasons you think.
  • This season couldn't feel more like last season. Was this loss really any worse than the stupid Dallas game, the Tennessee game, the Jacksonville game, or the Houston game?
  • San Diego won but should be very concerned. They are not a good team. With as many mistakes as the Colts made, they should be embarrassed at how the game turned out. Phil Rivers is an utter disaster.
  • This Indy defense is legit. With their backs against the wall all night, they played with passion and pride. Gary Brackett is playing the best football of his life.
  • Hopefully, Toudouze is the temporary answer at LT until Ugoh gets back. The protection was much cleaner after he came in the game.
  • Manning was clearly pressing early. A couple of those picks were really great defensive plays, but the first, fourth and fifth ones were absolutely unforgivable throws.
  • All of the little annoying things about this game aren't worth focusing on. The officiating was spotty, with missed horse collar tackles (on both teams), blow interference calls (on both teams), and the idiot who randomly blew his whistle when he didn't have a look at the play in the end zone. The Colts did enough to piss away this game on their own without whining about that stuff. Dungy taking a timeout to get an explanation of the call was odd, but I really don't think he could have imagined that AV would miss that kick.

I'm not relishing another week of "will they or won't they play".

Demond Sanders: I totally agree. The defense is playing amazing football. The performance last night was maybe the best I've ever seen from a Colts defense. Even more than Manning, they were dead set on winning despite the odds. This is last season in reverse. This time the offense is in shambles.

I think we've seen the last of Special Teams Coach Russ Purnell after this year. His failures have become impossible to ignore. Again, we are in for a depressing week, but last season has prepared Colts fans for this. Nothing will ever be worse than Jacksonville. Last night showed the entire NFL that the Colts are a lot like zombies. You have to cut off their head or they keep coming back.

Gift Wrapped

Chargers 23 - Colts 21

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chargers In-game Blog

Hello and welcome to Sunday Night Football. The San Diego Chargers are taking on the visiting Indianapolis Colts. Demond Sanders will be blogging the first and third quarters. Deshawn Zombie will handle the second and fourth quarters. The Colts injury report includes: Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Tony Ugoh, Freddy Keaho, Tyjuan Hagler, Matt Giordano, and Dan Federkeil. Note that three of those injuries are concussions. This is going to be a very interesting game. The Chargers are missing Center Nick Hardwick, DE Luis Castillo, and DB Quentin Jammer. The Colts will need a big night from their defense, especially Dwight Freeney.

1.) The Chargers run back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Special Teams are especially horrible tonight thanks to the injuries. Has Adam Vinatieri ever been remotely close to making a tackle on one of these deals? Chargers lead 7-0.

2.) Nice return by Crap Thorpe to midfield. The Colts need to answer. Pass interference on Cromartie covering Wayne gets the Colts in the red zone for the first time tonight. Addai seemed to cut the wrong way on first down. Interception by Cromartie. The Chargers get possession at the the five yard line. Ugly start.

3.) LT is stoned on his first carry. He's wily and likes playing the Colts. Big third and seven. Colts force a punt as Rivers throws well wide of his mark.

4.) Crap fields the punt in San Diego territory. Manning's ball is tipped and picked by a linebacker. This game is going pretty much how I expected so far. Actually worse.

5.) The Zombie Sanders makes a nice tackle on LT. Big third down. Colts force a field goal on a nice pass breakup in the endzone. Gates had a hoard of guys around him. Chargers lead 10-0.

6.) Crappy return by Crap, with an even crappier holding penalty. Sadly, I think that joke may tire out as the night goes on. 3rd and 13. Incomplete. This game is shaping up to be a horrendous blowout folks.

7.) As I type the previous sentence the Chargers run the punt back for a score. They miss the extra point. Chargers lead 16-0 and yet only have one first down on offense. I wouldn't be that worried, but the offense looks totally inept.

8.) First down toss to Bryan Fletcher. That's a start. Bryan Fletcher has made a couple nice grabs out of the slot. Yes, you read that correctly. Fletcher is in the slot. Huge sack makes it second and 23. The offensive line is playing poorly. A third pick by Manning. A ball he got nothing on. Oh well. The starting lineup looked like something that might be playing in the third quarter of a preseason game so you can't really feel too bad about this one.

9.) Anyone still reading? Clint Sessions just got screwed on national television. An inadvertent whistle just killed a great return on an improbable interception. Gary Brackett tips a ball in the end zone and it bounced off Bethea and then Sessions snagged it off the back of Brackett's thigh. What a night. The return was already set up when the whistle blew. Sessions had his blockers, including Zombie Bob. The defense has to be furious right now. By the way, Norv Turner is a moron for challenging that.

DZ here now, and I'm looking for bright spots. The brightest? Manning's -11 fantasy score that quarter might just save my season. WOW, now Charlie Johnson is hurt? Awesome.

10.) This game reminds me so much of Jacksonville last year, it's almost hilarious. Meanwhile Manning throws another pick. High comedy has taken over here in San Diego, as Manning tries a Brady jump ball, and Reggie Wayne stares passively as it's picked off.

11.) The defense is still playing with fire at least, as they hold the Chargers off on third down. The Chargers decide to man up and go for it on fourth down. The old pick play works for first down. Rivers fumbles the next snap. Is there any proof at all that he's actually a competent NFL quarterback? (Insert your own-he's outplaying Peyton Manning joke here).

12.) The coaching staff clearly failed to have this team ready to play this week. The Chargers are clearly a beatable team, but tonight the game plan has been poor, and the execution worse. Manning has played absolutely horrible, but the rest of the offense is clearly out to lunch as penalties and lack of effort have made things worse. Basically, this has been a gutless half. I'm out for awhile, if anything note worthy happens I'll comment, but there's really not much more to say.

13.) What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. As the Colts drive here, you realize that a score and a stop would give the Colts the precious 3-1 possessions, because they get the ball to start the second half. Sigh. This will end badly, but a man can hope. So there's the first score to Wayne, but what would really get them going is a defensive stop here.

14.) The Chargers run a cool play on first down. They then choke by running a play with 2:01 AND Rivers grounds it. This gives the Colts a chance to use timeouts if they get a reasonable stop on 2nd down. Funny stuff.

15.) And there you have it. The Chargers help the Colts out by running a stupid play before the 2 min warning, and now we have the next two possessions. A score here, and it's game on.

16.) Thorpe wastes about 20 seconds running sideways. A huge throw to Wayne puts the Colts within shouting distance of a score. After a great catch by Reggie into FG range, Diem goes down. For crying out loud. It's freaking 1996 all over again.

17.) Crap can't haul in the TD pass. They get the FG team on, but AV yanks another kick. He has not been good this year. (Let's see if the Pats fans are gutless enough to make fun of the dude who made them what they are...).

18.) So...we had 2 returns for scores, 4 picks and a jacked figgie. That's about as bad a half as you can play. Still, San Diego doesn't exactly inspire confidence.


19.) The Chargers lead 23-7. Adam Vinateri destroyed all the momentum the Colts were building by missing a field goal as time expired. He's starting to piss me off. The Colts have done everything wrong and are only down by 16. That's kind of amazing given that they are on the road and are heavily featuring a guy named Craphonso.

20.) Reggie Wayne gets cracked to open up the drive. I don't know why the Colts aren't trying to run the ball. Kind of strange and insane. Kind of awesome. This team is always entertaining. Huzzah! Joe Addai picks up a big 3rd and 1. Keep running it. It's only the third quarter. Big fourth down and two and the Colts go for it. HUGE COMPLETION TO MOOREHEAD. Terrible pick by Manning.

21.) Big third down conversion for San Diego. Bob Sanders slipped on the play. San Diego is finally getting something going on offense. They haven't done much, but they haven't needed to. The Colts D needs to force a turnover so Peyton can throw another pick. Big sack by Robert Mathis. Loss of 10 yards. Chargers punt.

22.) The Colts are getting routed by a bad team. How does SD only have 23 points? This one is all on Manning and the Special Teams. The Defense is playing their butts off. Nice footwork on a huge conversion by Manning and Wayne. The Colts need a touchdown before the fourth quarter. That's it for me tonight. It's been fun. The Colts are going down tonight, but for some reason I'm coming away with a perverse respect for how good this team is.

DZ is back again. This is quite the annoying game, because the Chargers are clearly an inferior team, but Manning is playing like he's on drugs. Incredibly creative one moment, self destructive and insane the next. Keith has a nice run after the catch. How much do we miss that missed FG now? The two pointer is good to make things veeeeery interesting. This was big for the team to finally shake out of the funk. Isn't this what we predicted on Eyes in the Backfield this week? Ok, a two quarter slump and a fist fight between the GMs. Whatever. No one's always right.

What? A great stop on a return AND a penalty? I'm aghast. Down 8, I'm still cursing the missed FG and the inadvertent whistle. Damn you, whistle! How dare you sound inadvertently?!

Here comes a huge 3rd and 10 as Rivers is glad it's raining so no one can see him wetting himself.

Addai gets no mo and the two point conversion is stopped. This game has officially gone off the hook. I have no idea how we'll chose 18 plays from it to talk about on the podcast. AV, HOW COULD YOU HAVE MISSED THAT KICK? Or I could say, PEYTON HOW COULD YOU HAVE THROWN THAT FIRST, FOURTH, OR FIFTH PICK?

The special teams holds. Can the D come up big again? They have all night. Ooops, it looks like Norv finally realized we are down four linebackers. We are screwed now. Norv might have grown a brain. Sessions is terrible as he lets LT get around the corner. LT looks like he's ready to bust one deep, but the Chargers decide to pass. Good grief, they are so badly run.

Hey great! Freeney's gone! Why not? Everyone else took the day off. Meanwhile Rivers throws what should have been a. a pick and b. pass interference. Neither ensues. Huge stop. Crap lets the punt go, and it heads to the 1. I smell safety, or maybe an epic drive. I don't even know what to say anymore.

Manning throws the ball a half a step long on the home run ball, but then hits Reggie for a HUGE first down to change field position if nothing else. Norv challenges again. This could be the play of the night. No matter how this turns out tonight, the Colts caught fire and that is what had to happen. Norv loses another challenge, and it just seems like maybe this game will turn out allright. Maybe. Oh lovely, Freeney in a cart. ARRRGH. The Chargers look like their will is broken. Let's run the ball. Big third down coming, but even so, the Colts did a good job getting out of the shadow of the goal line. Crap comes through again. I love that little dude! Ok, I admit that I cursed him after he let that punt go. Whatever, stop judging me.

HOW DOES HE DROP IT? Oh because it's pass interference of course. Hey, everything else went wrong, why not that? Wow, that was ever so close to being epic. Gotta love a deep ball to...Aaron Morehead.

You get the feeling that the Chargers should be able to run the clock out. The Colts are playing actual colts on defense at this point. They don't have anyone else!

SESSIONS! Rivers is just flat giving this game away.

The Colts aren't running effectively, but they are running consistently. Manning seems content to let this come down to the Colts D vs. Rivers. As Dawson leaves the field, I can't help feeling like it's Buffalo 1996 all over again. A huge first down by Addai forces the Chargers into their second time out. Three runs and everything will be ok, boys. Addai slips and the Chargers empty their timeout gun. Run the ball two more times and SD will need a FG with no timeouts and 1:10 on the clock. One more run. If he gets the first down, the game is over. As one of the readers, Matt said, Toudouze has been huge. Charlie Johnson getting hurt was the play of the game.

THERE IT IS. Run the clock to one second and kick the field goal. Madden is nuts. If you lose on a missed 20 yard field goal by AV, so be it. Nothing else makes sense. Meanwhile, it's a game of inches as the play is reviewed. The ball is moved back. The Colts have to kick this (eventually, I'm cool with trying to draw the Chargers off). The Colts try the reset play, but Utech moves too quickly? on the reset. Meanwhile, the review and the snap simulation costs the Colts 20 seconds of clock time.

Apparently, AV has money on this game as well. The stupid shift play (hey, I called for something like it too), cost the Colts 5 yards (FG good) and a timeout. I suppose a stop here on third down leaves the Colts about :20 to comeback. Not liking our chances.

We need about 30 yards for a 50 yard FG, but who knows what to think at this point. This game might just end on a hail mary. Demond said this was the Pittsburgh game all over again about a half an hour ago. Certainly jumps to mind. Again, I don't think this game means much in the big picture, but it sure served to ruin my night. DZ out.