Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pity The Ex-patriot Sports Fan

No, this post has nothing to do with our buddies up in chowder-land. Today, I hope to give you all a bit of a look into what's it's like to be a huge sports fan, but live outside the good ol' USA. I've mentioned from time to time some of the things that I do to stay connected to the world of balls and bats while living in South America. Paying a little extra for DirecTV and making sure that I have the highest speed internet available have helped me keep me more up to date than a lot of people stateside.

Right now, however, I'm staying with friends while we arrange for permanent housing here in Argentina. This means that I'm forced to live 'down' to the level of most sports fans who live overseas. What is it like? Well...

Most US sports fans abroad are probably lucky enough to live in a country that likes at least one of the big three sports. Europe loves basketball; Asia and the Caribbean love baseball. That helps. You might pick up a local telecast of a game, but at least can depend on ESPN's international wing to bring you a game or two week on basic cable. That's not bad, but unless you are a Yankees or Lakers fan, you aren't ever going to see your favorite team but once or twice a season. Me? I live in Argentina which means I get some Spurs games, but no baseball or NFL.

If you don't spring for 1 MB or better internet (which can be pricey), even watching highlight clips on NFL.com or ESPN is a chore. Fast internet also means streaming events. The NFL now streams some games for free (though often content is blocked if they detect you are outside the States), and the $15 for MLBs audio package is money well spent. If you have friends and family back home, you can always set up a Slingbox. This is a nifty device that plugs into your friend's cable and internet and allows you to watch their TV from anywhere in the world. I have a buddy who has given me access to his, but this doesn't do me much good on a 256K connection. I watched some NFL on it last Sunday, and at this speed...it's rough. The audio works though, so it's better than nothing.

If you don't have good highspeed internet or a great cable system, you are probably reduced to just getting scores and reading your local paper from back home online once in a while. Maybe you find a blog that covers your team well, but largely you are reduced to following local sports. For most of us who live overseas, that means Football (which means Soccer).

Here's the thing to realize about soccer if you don't live in the USA: it's pretty freaking cool. In the States there are two kinds of soccer snobs; the first consists of people who hate soccer and say it sucks and mock everyone who likes it. I used to be this kind of soccer snob, so I understand the mentality. Most soccer that exisits in the USA does suck. MLS is impossible to watch. Team USA is ok, but really is a third tier power right now. The second kind of soccer snob is scarf wearing elitest guy who looks down on the great unwashed who don't take off work to watch every UEFA match. This guy probably studied abroad in France for 6 months, and now thinks he's better than you becuase he follows some obscure Dutch team like Ajax (or if he's really a poser...Man U). I get how annoying that guy is, and don't blame you for hating him.

The thing you have to understand about most of us who become soccer fans is that it starts out as a necessity. If you want to have friends and fit in, in most countries you'd best follow soccer. And when played at full speed by experts...it really is a beautiful game. Most everyone in the States sort of gets that now, which is why the Euro Cup and the World Cup get huge ratings. Soccer, when played by men who know what they are doing, is amazing. If you don't dig it, that's fine. I'm not going to go all Soccer Snob #2 on you. Just understand, that it helps the ex-pat sports fan survive. Remember to pity those of us who grew up playing baseball and now have to play pick-up soccer. It isn't pretty. I pretty much head to the goal keeper spot right away. It's basically the right field of pick up soccer.

So pity the ex-pat sports fan. When he comes home, he's often ill-informed and ignorant of the 'big issues' going on in the sporting world. Some friends in Africa used to love to get video tapes of the Super Bowl (one month late). It's tough to be that guy. He used to hold his own at the barber shop, but now is on par with slightly effiminate guy who listens to too much Belle and Sebastian.

On the other hand, if he goes the distance and stays connected to US sports, he'll always have a wealth of information he can't bring up in any conversation he'll ever have with friends in his new country. That guy might just exhaust his poor wife by constantly talking about sports anecdotes and observations that she cares nothing for. He'll wear out his other US friends in country (who don't follow sports nearly as closely) with endless descriptions of games he watched or listened to on line. He might get so desperate to talk about sports that he does the absolutely unthinkable...

He'll start a blog.

Pity the expatriate sports fan.

This is what passes as a positive review for Pacers fans these days.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Does anyone know what's going on around here?

One of the chief reasons for optimism for Colts fans is that it's pretty difficult to figure out who in the AFC is actually any good. Yesterday was a prime example. Buffalo and Tennessee both won moving to 4-0. We all know enough to take the Titans sort of seriously, although you have to wonder how things will shake out when Vince Young gets 'healthy' (whatever that completely entails). I'm willing to say that this team is legit(ish). They obviously have had an excellent defense for some time, and the offense is just trying to stay out of the way. It can't believe what terrible luck it was for the rest of the NFL that he got hurt. If Young could only have stayed healthy, the Titans could have been counted on to be a second tier team.

After the Titans though, it's anyone's guess. San Diego and Jacksonville both sucked out yesterday and came away with wins. Denver wandered into their own house of horrors. I suppose if Baltimore beats the Steelers tonight, we can assume they are good. I'm still not sold on Buffalo, though I freely admit that I can't articulate why off the top of my head.

If the Chargers or New England had bolted out of the gate, I think we'd all feel pretty sick right now. As it stands, the Colts are still right in the thick of things, although it's basically imperitive to win 3 of the next four games (including at the Titans) if they hope to keep their division hopes alive. Three of those games are on the road, although whether Green Bay is any good is anyone's guess (MMTTB will be fun this week!).

It's from last week, but I avoided the media last week. Whitlock gently wonders about Dungy's coaching schedule. It's a fair question, but I think that there are enough other things that have clearly gone wrong. Unless the rest of the NFL is practicing on Friday nights, I doubt this is the culprit.

This Star piece on Irsay's daughter was great yesterday.

Peter King claims he isn't shocked over the state of the NFL. His nonsensical intro (in which he claims that the topsy turvy-ness of this NFL season is to be expected) actually helps me articulate why I don't trust the Buffalos of the world. Because it's a long season, and a chunk of the league hasn't even played 4 games yet, it's just silly to talk about the NFL like there has been some sea change. I can buy Tennessee because we've seen this coming from them for some time. All it took was removing VY from the equation. As for other pretenders like Buffalo, it takes a lot more than 4 games to convince me that they've arrived. King would be better served telling people not to overreact to four (three!) games worth of data and just calm down a little. Instead he acts like the way the standings look now is the way they'll finish up.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cool Hand, Luke

Good bye, Paul. The screen, the salad, and the track will miss you. Thanks for 83 years of being awesome.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Moving Forward

It's been a great time for me 'to get away' and clear my head of football. Though I grant you that not blogging much this week has been a bit of a shock to my system, the events of real life have made that necessary. And so now, I come back reenergized and ready to state my presuppositions about this season going forward. In as few words as possible: I'm not worried. Not even a little.

Here's a list of controversial statements that I hold to be true:

1. Peyton Manning's best game was week 1. Peyton did what was necessary to win the game. The WRs failed miserable (along with the line), and it cost the Colts a win.

2. The Colts were lucky to win in week 2, and unlucky in week 3. They were vastly superior to the Jags, and blown calls on both picks by Peyton swung that game. If either call is made, Indy wins by double digits.

3. The problem with the run defense is not the D-line, but rather the linebackers. The D-line is holding its own, but it is the linebackers who must make tackles. The gap control has been poor, leading 2006-like rushing performances by opposing backs.

4. The Colts third down failures are in large part due to Tim Jennings being on the field. He gives too big a cusion to almost every type of receiver and this leads to easy completions.

5. There is nothing wrong with the Colts offense that can't be solved by Manning making better decisions. Three of his four picks the last two games have been terrible decisions (I give him a pass on the return for a TD against the Jags, because the interference was so obvious). The return of Saturday and Clark proved the Colts can move and run the ball, and I expect Manning to be much more controlled after the bye. The Colts offense will once again be in the top 5. I expect Manning to throw no more than 6 picks the rest of the year, to go with 27 more TDs. Other than a couple of bad decisions, I've seen no evidence that his play or skill has slipped.

6. There is nothing truly wrong with the Colts defense. In three games, the most points they allowed was 20. In fact, they have allowed three touchdowns in three games (and one of those TD drives started on the Indy half of the field). That ought to be good enough to win three games. The problem is that people like to place blame. Why did the Colts lose? TOO MANY RUSHING YARDS! Um, no. They lost week one because Harrison fumbled and it was run back for a score. They lost week three because both Manning picks eventually resulted in TDs. The defense played well enough to win both games. Did it fail from time to time, yes of course. It's easy to blame the D for the loss last Sunday because it folded so badly in the fourth quarter. To do so, however, minimizes the culpability of the offense in letting the D stay on the field so long. No defense will perform well when forced to be on the field for 25 minutes a half.

7. I still expect the Colts to win 11-12 games and win the South fairly easily. None of the 'new power' teams in the AFC are very scary, and I have a feeling that in 6 or 7 weeks everyone will laugh at people who considered San Diego and Indy to be slipping in favor of the Buffalos and Denvers of the world. The Colts still have 5 games left with Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston and Detroit who are a combined 0-11.

Let's just say...I woudn't want to be Houston next week. It's always tough to win at Houston for reasons that I've never quite understood, but I sense that a beat down is coming for the Texans.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Good Omen

As I prepare to board a flight for DC (and then on to Buenos Aires) with my wife, two kids, and everything I own, I was stunned to see a large bearded figure standing at the service counter for United. There, preparing to board my flight was the unmistakable Jeff Saturday. As I passed him on my way back to my seat, I debated saying something subtle like, "I love Penn Station." or, "My, you are exquisitely groomed", or just "Go 'Heels" but instead, I thanked him for playing a great game on Sunday and told him we are all proud to have him. He laughed and was appreciative. It was brief exchange largely becuase I didn't want to be "hassle the celebrity guy". Still, I was decked out in Colts gear, and figured if I didn't say anything as I passed, it might be deflating for him. If a Colts fan can't recognize you as an O-lineman, you really must be a second class citizen. Anyway, it was a great start to what was a long trip with four and two year olds.

I'm not fully back up on my feet here, but there were a couple of things I wanted to comment on that came up in the comments:

1. It's awesome to see so many people saying that they rewatched the game or studied the highlight tapes. This is the key to being an informed fan. Watch the game once for enjoyment, and then rewatch it for knowledge. Just doing that raises your level of understanding beyond say, Bob Kravitz who watches it once live and then basically forgets what he sees.

2. I haven't had time to hit the tape of this game yet, but I have zero trouble believing what Westside Rob wrote about the linebackers. This is consistent with what always tends to be the problem with the Colts run D. Columnists say dumb things like, "We need more DTs", when it's usually the backers fault that plays aren't made. Hagler being out has hurt this D. The good news is...he's coming back (eventually). I'm willing to be that when I do watch the tape, I'll see what Rob saw. Sessions and Jennings failing miserably.

3. Seriously, lay off the "why didn't we run on 1st down at the 2" talk. Saying that is a coaching mistake ignores one key fact:


If the Colts had run the ball on first down, they probably would have scored. The Jags didn't stop the run once all day. Unless you advocate Indy taking a knee down 6 points, don't beg for a run play to kill the clock. A run play on first down would most likely have resulted in a TD on first down. You could argue that the two pass plays wasted more time than a first down run would have. The Jags likely would have tried the "Green Bay" defense of letting the runner score so as to preserve time. At the time, I was begging for a run too, but mostly because I knew it would result in a TD. Which it did.

4. Blaming the coaches for a loss like this isn't appropriate, especially for the failed offensive drives. Manning calls the plays. It's always worked before. Did he screw up by throwing deep in third quarter when the D needed to stay off the field? YES. Was that anyone's fault but his? No, although Mathis certainly helped by yanking Harrison's shoulder pads. That's the way the Colts offense has always worked. It's all on Peyton. We were a 51 yard FG away from that working again. Peyton threw two picks, both of which were at least partially the result of blown pass interference calls. The second pick shouldn't have been thrown anyway. He almost won that game on one of the sickest drives I've ever seen. Instead, he lost it in the third quarter with a dumbass pick. It happens. It's not the coaches fault, unless you want to question the entire foundation for the Colts offense under Peyton. It's almost always his call. I can live with that.

5. I'm glad it's the bye week. It gives me a chance to adjust to live down here, and the team a chance to heal. I'm not worried about this season (yet), but the game at Houston is beyond a must win.

Demond Sanders: I agree it is difficult to criticize any drive that ends in a touchdown. The Colts had one mission in the final two minutes: score 7 points. Mission accomplished. Criticizing how they scored those points is very picky. Still, I think the Colts should have run on first down. They probably do score, in which case this argument is moot. But maybe they don't score. The Colts lost because the Jags had three timeouts. They needed to force them to use at least one, if not two.

JDR isn't smart enough to let the Colts score ala Green Bay. Those three timeouts ensured that the only way the Jags wouldn't get the field goal was for the D to force a turnover on downs. Which they nearly did. In summation, I am always in favor of running the clock on potentially game-ending drives, but the Colts were trying to score a touchdown and clock strategy was a distant second priority at that moment. Were we complaining when the Colts scored so amazingly quick (leaving a full minute on the clock) against New England in the AFC Championship game? No, we were just really glad they found a way to score. The same should apply here.


Peyton answers questions

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stomach Punch

Jags 23 - Colts 21

My last post for awhile

Here's a couple of quick thoughts about the game in no order:

The $3 parking is gone. They charge $10 now, and it was all filled by tailgaters. That sucks.

Tim Jennings got abused on every third down completion. He made a great special teams play, but was horrible in coverage.

The tipped pass that Jacksonville caught was crazy.

Jack Del Rio tried hard to give that game away, but his team just wouldn't let him. The field goal he passed on, the give up drive to end the first half, and the gutless decision to run on 3rd and goal late all should have sunk his club.

The Stadium wasn't loud until the final series by Jacksonville. The crowd was in a daze the whole time. There was no energy from the start.

We sure did miss Bob Sanders.

The defense was just a step slow on the last drive. That was the result of being on the field for 40 minutes.

It was nice to see the stretch play again.

After watching the two picks, I can't believe the irony that we lost on a pass interference call. The TV guys documented the blown call on the pick 6, which was clearly interference. They missed the obvious hold on Marvin on the awful second pick as well. If you watch closely, Mathis grabs Marvin's jersey about the 20 yard line and pulls it off the shoulder pads. This screwed the timing of the play up. It was a clear hold that everyone on our side of the stadium saw. It was a terrible throw by Peyton, but it should have resulted in a 5 yard gain for Indy. I'm sick about these two calls.

There may be talk about Marvin being done, but he abused Mathis all day. He didn't make all the plays, but Mathis interfered with him twice on picks. Manning was still keying on Marvin all day. Maybe too much.

Charlie Johnson was solid in run blocking. He is still getting schooled on too many pass rushes.

This isn't a crushing loss, but it sure did rob of us of what would have been a HUGE win. The Jags did some things very well; but in the end, they got the breaks that swung the game.

I'll see you all in the Southern Hemisphere. Remember, there is no podcast this week, but I will post the 18 Plays with some commentary later this week.

Jags Pregame

As DZ mentioned I'll (Westside Rob) once again be blogging the home game for today. Some surprising games so far around the league.
  • The Brady injury finally catching up with NE, though even without Brady they shouldn't be giving up those kinds of points.
  • The Bengals hanging with the Giants.
  • ATL and Matt Ryan looking like a really decent team, against a hapless Chiefs team.
  • Buffalo down to the once hapless Raiders (I have the Bills in my Suicide pool so I'm sweating it bad right now)
  • The Titans looking pretty scary and all over the Texans once again.

For those few of you who tuned into my blogging of the Bears game, I am not going to do quite the moment by moment blogging this time. I'll probably take the Demond approach and blog at the end of each drive, and maybe when there is a really big play. I'll try to follow and respond to the comments better this time.

I'm looking for the Colts to break out today. I know the Jags are desperate but I tend to think that will make them sloppy and push them to make mistakes. Saturday being back should help settle the line down. If the Colts can get up early, the Jags lack of mental toughness should lead them to collapse early. Let's go Colts!!!

First Quarter:

1st Drive: GREAT DRIVE! Great catch by Clark for a big game, and the stretch play is BACK and you gotta love Marvin catching the TD.

Good special teams coverage, and great 3 and out by the defense. Great start by the Horse!

Not a horrible series on the second drive. A couple O-line breakdowns but we got the running game going again and some good pass plays before coming up short on a long 3rd down. Bad field position for the Jags to start their 2nd drive.

Too many missed tackles by the whole defense. Players generally be seeming to hold their gaps and coverage, but just aren't making tackles. Nice stand at the goal though. Jags can't win scoring FGs. You have to score TDs to beat the Colts. Min proved that last week.

Sorry had to step away for a bit for some family stuff, so I might be behind for a while, as I catch up on the DVR. Bad offensive series by the Colts and the defense follows up soft as well, but get tough at the goal line again. 4 and out!

Huge throw to Wayne, followed by a huge pick by Peyton that Mathis return for a touchdown. Mathis had seriously illegal contact... Colts get ball back and start running the ball. Peyton still doesn't look fully himself, but a great long throw to AG helps! Another HORRIBLE no call, Cross is wrong. Finally they make the call on interference, about time. Dumb jokes by Enberg. BIG delay/draw stretch to Rhodes, that's a play I'd like to see more of. TOUCHDOWN J.Addai Master!

Halftime Thoughts: Offense is running the ball well. If not for that bad pick this game is already half way to put away. I like what I'm seeing from the offense, but I'd like to see the defense get a little more stout. The rookie Guards are doing better this week with Saturday back in but they need to stop the false starts. Other then that much better play from the O-line.

3rd Qtr: Defense playing more stout even though they are giving some ground (bending but not breaking). Getting the Jags into 3rd downs (some longish). Need to get a stop but looking better. AND THERE IT IS. Hayden makes a great jump and takes it the other way

Offense has to capitalize on the TO with a TD. Instead Peyton turns it over in the endzone. Poorly underthrown ball by Peyton. My wife is daring me to type that Peyton sucks...of course he doesn't but that was a totally sucky throw. She doesn't really think that Peyton sucks but just thinks that the lack of Bob Sanders on the field is affecting Peyton's mind.

Run defense was looking better until that big play, HORRIBLE tacking. Defense is collapsing. Offense needs to get a drive going and put TD on the board.

So my Dad wants to know what happened to the rhythym of the first half on offense? It's not looking good right now. We need to get the momentum back.

Jennings has been huge on Special Teams this year. Nice shoestring tackle on the punt return.

We really need to hold them to a FG here, the defense is play about 3/4ths of the plays really good and the other 1/4th really bad. Giving up an 18 yd gain on 2 and 17 is a good way to make sure you lose. Note to the Colts coaches. Del Rio is going to RUN no matter what.

This game is a mirror image of last week's game. Problem is your much better off surging in the 2nd half then the 1st. In response to the question of which is worse the Colts D o O??? I'd vote Offense in the 2nd half because they were totally inept. Defense at least held them to a FG.

Well if the Colts can't get this 1st down then they definitely wear the title of more "incompetent" for this game at least. Their 2nd half performance has been just about as horrible as you can imagine.

Amazing throw 18 to 88!!! First down!

I think people can start to shut up about Marvin being done. He might be on the downside of his career but I think he still has a good deal to offer.

Great play to Wayne, Colts inside the 5!!!!

TOUCHDOWN COLTS!!!!!!!!! J.Addai Master nice run up the middle. I wish they'd run earlier in that position since if they didn't get in Jax has to take timeouts...

What a kickoff by AV. Let's go D, we need to be TOUGH! Nice tackle by Jackson

One play guys, just one play. We need it!

HORRIBLE CALL!!! This is not looking good. Comes down to a 51yard kick. Though the game was over and the Refs bailed Jax out on that absolutely horrible pass interference call.

Colts Lose... we got screwed but didn't really deserve to win it anyway. This team really needs to dig deep and figure out what's going on. No intensity, no consistency.

Thanks DZ and DS for the chance to help out again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Watching the Jags

Eyes in the Backfield this week focuses heavily on the offensive lines. Here's a taste:

With a miracle win under their belt, the Colts look to get this season going in the right direction by taking down the struggling Jaguars. Both teams have to view this game as a must win, as the Jags have stumbled out of the gate and are in serious danger of falling permanently out of playoff contention. Here's what to watch for on Sunday:

1. Watch for the MASH units. Both teams have had their offensive lines decimated by injury, and it's seriously affecting their ability to run the football. The back-ups that do a better job in run blocking should come out with a win.

2. Watch for the two givens in any game against the Jags. Josh Scobee will miss a short field goal and Jack Del Rio will make a major coaching gaffe. It happens almost every time these two teams play.

3. Watch the slot. Especially if Dallas Clark comes back, it may be a game of Russian roulette for the Jags in the slot. The only problem is that every chamber has a bullet. It doesn't matter who the Colts play there, Wayne, Gonzalez and Clark will take turns carving up the Jags over the middle.

Keep reading...there's 15 more things to watch for!

Also, just one programming note:
Westside Rob will be doing the live game blog again tomorrow, as Demond and I will be at the game. In addition, win or lose there won't be any 18 Plays Podcast this week. I will be occupied with the move back to Argentina, and can't be sure that I'll have time to watch the game tape until much much later in the week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

18to88 on FO

Hey for those who haven't seen it yet, check out our contribution to Mike Tanier's Walkthrough piece. We contribute a recap of the Luke as of the Bears game. For those who want even a more thorough look at other aspects of the dome, check out our buddy Paul's review.

Thanks to Mike Tanier for giving us the chance to contribute.

Sorry about no new posts today. I am leaving for Buenos Aires on Monday, so you won't be hear much from me for a few days. We are working up Eyes in the Backfield, and that should be up late tonight or tomorrow.

Simmons says something nice about Peyton, then picks the Jags.

The AFC South blog has a couple of good piece including an interview with Gary Brackett and a piece on who the Titans are rooting for this weekend.

Jim Caple names IMS the 7th most important sporting venue in the USA. The NCAA headquarters downtown make 26th. Hinkle is 62nd and Conseco is 66th. Armstrong at IU and Assembly Hall come in at 94 and 95. Throw in Notre Dame Stadium at 18th, and you get 7 of the 100 most important sports venues located in Indiana. Sure, it's just one man's opinion, but it's still pretty cool.

A Higher Plane: The MMTTB report

If science has taught us anything, it's that the highest plane of human evolution will lead us to become beings of pure energy and light. It seems that such heady days are finally upon us. In Green Bay, reporters have been noting a bright sheen around the heads of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy for weeks now. On Sunday afternoon, these two immortal football men broke forever the bonds of their fleshly bodies and entered a higher plane of being. Thanks to Aaron Rodgers' evisceration of the mighty Detroit Lions, coupled with Brett Favre's inability to tame the hapless Patriots, Thompson and McCarthy have transcended this dimension and gained the ability to move unencumbered through time and space, existing freely at all points in the continuum at once. Mike Greenberg of ESPN affirmed their greatness by declaring Aaron Rodgers "the best quarterback in the NFL". Wear glasses in their presence, boys. Staring directly at them can cause retinal damage.

Whitlock is sweating this about as much as I am.

ESPN the Rag has a cool feature on the Addai Master

And one on 'dynamic duos'

Peter King likes the Jags. He'd better, his rep is in trouble if they lose.

Scouts Inc looks at the next King of the Hill after Manning and Brady. My favorite line is from Jeremy Green on weaknesses:
It would be easy to say Rivers' arm strength, but that arm did pass the Chargers into the AFC Championship Game.
No it didn't Jeremy. Rivers left the game trailing. Billy Volek's arm took the Chargers to the AFC Championship game.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And the hits just...well you get the idea

We lost the Zombie for a month and a half. This is going to be a tough month, but if the team can get through it at 3-1, things will be ok. Everyone is eventually coming back this season, and a lot of games that looked hard (Cleveland) suddenly aren't that bad. Cincinnati and Detroit are horrible, and who knows how the Texans are going to play. Without Bob though, we might see a repeat of the early 2006 defense. If anyone else significant gets hurt, I don't know if the team will survive it. At some point the sheer volume of injuries just flat pulls you under.


CHFF Power Rankings have a great stat on the Colts that I was just thinking about this morning:

Indy has forced only one turnover in two games; in 2007, the Colts forced two or more turnovers in all but two regular season games.

My comment would be that it's hard to force turnovers when teams barely ever throw. I think we get a couple this week.

The podcast is up. Regular subscribers will be downloading it automatically. If you don't regularly subscribe, just follow the link and down load it. It's a bit longer this week as we had a lot to talk about and Demond was in a much better mood.

Ross Tucker was at the game Sunday

Dr. Zs Power Rankings.

ESPN's Page 2 ranks all the NFL teams post merger. The Colts are exactly in the middle.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One of the most shocking things I could say...

JC is a decent dude. Sure, he's the same guy whose profanity laced tirades in the comments for the past 12 months have alternately entertained and horrified us. And yes, he has a serious problem with alcohol and rage, and it's true that he may or may not have killed someone without realizing it, but I'll give him props this week for being decent. First off, he bothered to email me about The Black Donnellys.

How did I manage to miss this series? It's about four Irish-American brothers who engage in general thuggery. It's poignant, funny, very well acted, and the pilot episode was riveting. Go get this brief series on DVD. You won't be disappointed.

Second he made my day by sending us this amazing picture:

It's of the Providence Grays circa 1880. The man in the front left is JC's great great great grandfather Jimmy Downy. The Grays were an early member of the National League, and were 'World Champions' in 1884. I love the classic baseball, and this even predates The Glory of Their Times. It's a great photo.

Finally, he wished us luck with the game last week. God knows we needed it, and quite possibly the improbability of him saying that was just the absurd cosmic push we needed to get over the top in Minnesota. So there you have it. Who knows for how long, but last week at least. JC was a really decent dude. Thanks man.


Shake posted this on Stampede Blue. It's a very solid laundry list of what's wrong with the Horse. Basically, this week is a must win. Then comes the bye, and beyond that we should be ok.

Indianapolis Monthly does a long feature on 18. I saw the issue on the stands, but didn't remember to look it up until I saw it again on the AFC South blog.

ESPN Power rankings

No Colts related stuff, but some thoughts on the Jags and a generally good read as Don Banks looks at perception vs. reality.

TMQ for this week. I knew I got that 55% number from somewhere...

Here's a great piece on the authentication of a Lou Gehrig jacket.

Will Carrol wonders if the Colts could be burried by all the injuries. I think we all are wondering that. The tide has to stop rising, or we will go under. The good news (compared to last year) is that we haven't lost anyone for the season yet. Win this week, get a week off, and things can still be ok.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two seconds

That's how long Manning said they had to operate yesterday. I watched the first half again last night (talk about an act of self-sacrifice), and I saw a lot of two kinds of problems: 1. lots of missed assignments and 2. when guys figured out who to block, it wasn't a sure thing they actually could block. As good as we all feel about the win, Sunday's game against Jacksonville is still a must win. The Jags are desperate, and a win could nail shut their season, and quite probably effectively end the future of pro football in Jacksonville.

Other thoughts:
  • New England will be around as long as their back 8 holds up. The Pats thrived for years on a simple ball control game plan that we thought could have been executed by anyone. Now they are getting back to that, only with Walker and Moss for Cassel to go to. I still expect them to win 12 games. I'm actually sort of hoping for it.
  • Norv Turner is a crappy coach. His statement about the officiating is gutless. The call was awful, but instead of openly blaming the loss on the official, how about some accountability? Why not say, "We can't keep falling behind by two touchdowns!" or "We still had two chances after the fumble to stop them and win the game, but didn't". The Chargers are a whiny bunch, and while I'm sure they'll come back strong, I don't think they have what it takes to win it all.
  • The Monday Night game against the Titans looms large.
  • It'll still be a couple of more weeks before we really know who is good in this league, like for instance, Jay Cutler. He was alternately great and awful yesterday. Two more weeks should provide some clarity.
  • I suppose it goes with the territory, but Manning was killed last week when they lost and praised this week when they won, but I thought he played better last week. Last week the WRs dropped the ball. This week the picks were 18's fault, and Gonzo was out of his mind.
  • Anthony Gonzalez is going to be a great Colt for a long time. Everyone has had that feeling about him from draft day last year, and his interviews are awesome. He takes this game super seriously AND is insanely talented. Sounds like some other players I know.
  • Dwight Freeney...oh yeah. He's fine.
  • Eyes was pretty on target this week. I always check it after the game to see how we did. Other than the Tamme/Robinson point (which was still right, only with Santi because Tamme was out), we were right on. Ron Paul's speech with 5 minutes to play really broke up the flow of the game. Could have done without that.
  • Watching the game with all of you was fun. If I had realized that some of you were depending on the game blog to know what was up, I wouldn't have taken a break. Sorry.
  • Big Z is great. But Houston should be livid. They have to play a home game in Milwaukee while all the players are worried about their homes and communities. No wonder they got no hit.


Jeff Fisher answers some of my questions about the Young story. Primarily that the psychologist mentioned in the original story is NOT VYs therapist, but rather a team consultant who never talked with Young until after the incident. Basically, the story was reported wrong, which makes sense. The original story was convoluted and if true as written, would have involved serious breaches of protocol. Basically we are back to not knowing if Young has serious issues or is just a pampered 23 year old kid who needs to grow up and realize that life requires hard work and pain in order to achieve success.

John Clayton says more coaches should emulate Shanahan. Going for two when he did was actually the higher percentage play. About 60% of 2 point conversion plays work. Your chances in OT are about 55% even if you win the flip. The Chargers defense was weak all day. Maybe in a 10-9 game, you kick the point, but on a day when both defenses are getting gashed, going for two made sense.

Kravitz says Manning is great. No crap. I love how he throws stupid lines in about Brady just to irritate Colts fans. He's an ass. Still, he gave us this quote which made it worth my while to read him:

"Reggie (Wayne) and I talked (in the second quarter) about getting man coverage,'' Manning said later. "Sometimes he tries to make a little pump move, but I told him, 'We don't have time for you to make pump moves. Just go, and I'll throw it right by (the defender's) ear. He won't even know the ball's been thrown by the time it's in your hands.' ''

The exchange between Peter King and Mike Shanahan in MMQB today is priceless.

"What happened to the Colts?'' Shanahan said. "How'd they win?''
"Peyton Manning,'' I said. "Four offensive linemen out, Dallas Clark out, down 15-0 in the Metrodome, they can't run, Vinatieri misses a chip-shot and it looks like they'll lose, and Manning just, I don't know, wouldn't let them.''
"Wow,'' he said.

Don Banks piece on the game was really cool.

Audibles at the Line contains a lengthy discussion of the game. It's interesting to hear smart non-Colts fans (who are also watching several other games at the same time) react to things. Some of the observations are insightful, others flat wrong (The stretch plays aren't working...um, because they didn't actually run any!), but generally entertaining.

CHFF looks at Sunday's games. Also, I overstated the odds slightly, but Shanahan was still right.

Michael Lombardi gives Peyton an A. That's pretty amazing really, considering a month ago, Lombardi had some people convinced that come week 2 Peyton would be at home on the couch or writhing in pain considering all the shots he would be taking. Yeah, I'm not going to let that go.

I'm not to proud to say that YAR has me stumped. Manning gets a -20 YAR for getting stopped twice on a sneak? Since when did a QB getting stuffed from the one on a sneak equal a loss of 10 yards? Am I dense here? Isn't that what this implies? Manning getting stuffed twice didn't have anywhere near the same effect as losing 20 yards would have. I love FO, but what's the point of trying to tie a system into easily understood terms like yards and points, if the stats come out that skewed? I know there is something I'm missing here. Can anyone explain it to me?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Viking Funeral

Burned 'Em. Colts 18 Vikings 15

Vikings Game Blog

Here are a few thoughts while waiting for THE HUGE GAME

  • I was wrong. I told my wife the Buckeyes would lose 50 - 0 to the Trojans. But they only lost 35 - 3. Stupid me.
  • Kravitz is calling for more Addai. Frankly, I agree with him. He points out a trend I think we've all noticed over the past 12 games. Although it should also be noted that the O-line has been a mess over that same stretch. During the Bears game I was desperately calling for the Colts to run the ball. I can't blame the team for not wanting to donate-a-down by handing off into the line, but the numbers weren't awful. Addai was 12 for 44 with a couple really bad runs bringing his average down. The bottom line is the Colts need to get an early lead and find out what the J.Addai Master can do.
  • I have a very bad feeling about this game. Luckily my wife has promised to take me to Outback if the Colts lose, so I'm in good shape either way.
  • Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark are both inactive for today's game. Tom Santi will start in place of Clark.
  • Did you know Adrian Peterson's personal assistant is a real viking? Love it. I think all the NFL teams should move for greater incorporation of their nicknames.
  • My wife asks me kindly to Try not to freak Clark out.

First Quarter

1.) Vikings kick off. Nice return by the newly-signed Forsett. Pitch wide to Addai for four. Quick pass to Tom Santi for two yards. HUGE conversion to Gonzalez. Manning had just enough time as the right side of the line was breaking down. Ugly pick by Manning. Good tackle by Marvin.

2.) Peterson busts through an arm tackle by Kelvin Hayden for a huge gain. DZ informs me that there is no way in hell we win this game. Hard to disagree at this point. We need a turnover. Great job by Freddy Keiaho to fill the gap as Peterson turns it wide. GREAT D by Hayden to break up a pass on third and 9. Totally makes up for that missed tackle. Vikings 3 - Colts 0.

3.) The Colts need a touchdown drive to kickstart the stalled 2008 season. Forsett another solid return out to the 32. Very nervous right now as the team looks terrible. Kravitz's Addai thesis is looking very questionable. Pressure from everywhere on third down. Punt.

4.) A 15 yard interference penalty by Tim Jennings gives the Vikings great field position again. Really unforgivable. Peterson to midfield. The gameplan is clear. Sessions sniffs out the swing pass to Peterson for the second time. Big third down here. Great D despite the lack of pressure. I am shocked no one broke open for Jackson to find. Punt.

5.) Fair catch by Forsett will start things at the ten. I'll repeat: The Colts need a touchdown drive. Or maybe an 8 yard loss to Addai. Diem fails miserably. And folks this is why we predicted a loss for the first time in memory. Punt.

6.) BIG punt and Good coverage by Keiaho, Vikings start at midfield. This is hard to watch. I'm not sure there's a fix for sucking at blocking. That's football. Peterson and Taylor are starting to gouge. Grim. Manning has a bewildered look on the sidelines. WOW. Peterson turns a loss of three into a gain of five. Third and 3 from the eight. Ron Meeks looks. . . concerned. Incomplete. Bullet dodged. Vikings 6 -Colts 0.

7.) Forsett unwisely takes a deep kick out and the Colts will start at the 18 yard line. Gonzalez for nine yards. Here's DZ.

Second Quarter

  • Bob Kravitz article today should have said: Remember the last time the Colts had a healthy offensive line? It was at Jacksonville last year. Running behind this line is absolutely impossible. It's time to go all passing. Reggie Wayne makes a huge catch.
  • They are going to kid Joe killed at this rate. It's time for 60 passes.
  • Gonzo is seriously atoning. Manning is focusing only him it seems. They have no time to look deep at all.
  • Another blown block by a rookie TE. Unreal.
  • The problem with the offensive struggles is that they embolden teams to run us to death. The Colts are just going for strips on every play.
  • Faced now with a huge 3rd down, the Colts defense must make a stand. This could be the last pass (or draw) they see all day.
  • ##%$#@#$@#$#$@$ Well, that was fun while it lasted. Illegal contact foul revives a stalled drive. Mathis and the Vikes O-Coordinator blow up the drive anyway.
  • ALL TOGETHER NOW: YOU CAN'T RUN WIDE ON THE COLTS. RUN UP THE MIDDLE. The Vikings gash us up the middle and then try and get cute with end-arounds and bootlegs. I'd stab somebody with my Vikings horns if I rooted for that team.
  • That punt downed at the one-smells like: a. a challenge b. a safety. Take your pick.
  • Joe is a warrior, I'll give him that.
  • Did Reggie really just drop the go ahead TD? Good Lord. Hey, Ugoh is hurt! Aweeeeesome.
  • Wow, that was creative spotting by the official. 1st down.
  • Diem goes downfield illegally? Nice.
  • Can I at least explain that I originally thought we'd score 10 points today. When I heard Saturday might play, that's when I said we'd score 20. Just wanted that on the record. The third down play never has a chance as Harrison would have been short of the sticks anyway. I don't know if there is any possible way to make it to half down less than 10, but it would be a minor miracle.
  • Here's a huge 3rd down play for the defense. A stop, and a trip to locker room down 6 would feel almost like winning. Not really. I'm still stunned that Reggie Wayne dropped a 96 yard TD pass. Unreal.
  • Demond writes: Which would be more improbable: winning this game or coming back at SD last year? I vote San Diego.
  • HUGE play by Hayden. He's been big all day long. He is SAVING this D.
  • A huge penalty by the Vikes temporarily saves us from doing the Safety dance.
  • Santi and Manning have a close bond due to their injuries. They are bursa sac buddies.
  • Charlie Johnson almost gets Manning killed. Why does he never get hurt?
  • More pressure. I think I saw my paper boy playing right guard. Hunter Smith has another big punt, and we survive down 6-0 (knock on wood).
  • Jackson runs around, hits some passes, and gives Longwell a 53 yard FG attempt. It's money. Unreal.

Half Time report: Is it as bad as it looks? No, it's way worse. I've never seen worse line play. Even so we'd still be in front if everyone else had played mistake free. Manning's pick was bad. He stared Harrison down and the DB cut in front. Wayne's drop was reminiscent of the NE drop last year. The defense played as expected, but really until the last FG, you sort of felt like they might hold us close. The Vikes have had amazing field position and start the 2nd half with the ball. They'll put us down 16-0. I think we get shut out today. The offensive line is indescribably bad. Diem and Johnson are a disaster. If they got crap on themselves, the crap would wipe itself off.

Third Quarter

  • Did Dan Dierdorf really just blame the line problems on Tony Ugoh's injury half way through the second quarter? Wow. He is a dumb man.
  • Hey! There's the biggish return given up we've been looking for!
  • The Vikes could kneel for the rest of the half and win this game. I'm out for a while.
  • Manning to Gonzo to about the 25, Gonzo spins and gets 5 more yards. as he goes down, he flips to Reggie. Wayne leaps over Gonzo AND the tackler, breaks one tackle and is tackled as he dives for the goal line. Replay canceled the TD and moved the ball to the 1/2 yard line.
  • Addai TD is being challenged, and I think will be overturned. We'll have to go for it on 4th down.
  • WHOO HOO! All it took was a crazy play and an awful call on the field for us to score!
  • Nice play by Freddy, SAAAAAACK FREEEEENY
  • FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENY SAVED US! FUMBLE! COLTS BALLLLLLL! Freeney had the strip/sack fumble on Jackson; Dawson fell on it.
  • The catch streak lives! Marvin takes a hit, but hangs on for a first down.
  • We were dead to rights, but one of the most improbable plays I've ever seen has bailed us out, and the Horse lives. It's freaking miracle.

Quarter 4.

  • Huge 3rd and 10, but even a FG helps at this point.
  • Manning avoids the sack, but throws a tad high to Santi, who can't hang on in the end zone.
  • It's San Diego all over again. AV pushes it. Wow.
  • Why is Minnesota throwing at all? The D forces a huge 3rd and 8. Jackson throws it to no one. RUN A DRAW VIKINGS. Colts ball.
  • Demond writes: I just realize. They suck. And we are losing to them.
  • The hope is short lived as Manning's pass is tipped and picked. The throw was awful. It was waaaaay behind Wayne. That's two bad picks on Manning.
  • Chester Taylor is stuffed on third down. Longwell will try another long FG. WIIIIIDE. Wow.
  • Bills score to go up 1 in Jacksonville.
  • Peyton hits Reggie inside Vikings territory. Robinson fights for a first down. Man, I'd kill for that FG right now.
  • TOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWN WAYNE. Great protection (!) Wayne runs the post for the score. Two point conversion....
  • DOM FOR 2 TIE GAME. Crazy call, he might even have been down, but the Vikes have no challenges. This is nutsville.
  • Football is weird. An hour ago, I was ok with losing this game. Now...I would be devastated.
  • Hayden is draped in coverage again (missed call-it was interference). Here comes a HUGE third down for Jackson and for the Colts D.
  • INCOMPLETE! NO FLAGS. Barrion tripped on his own two feet. Colts ball. The Vikes are offsides on the kick, and the Colts get a bonus 5 yards.
  • HERE COMES THE RUN. Addai is brilliant, and the Vikings are gassed. First down on 2 good runs in a row.
  • Manning avoids the rush and Gonzo makes a great catch. This is going to be a hell of a an 18 plays. 1st down with a snatch catch by Gonzo.
  • Two minute warning. 2nd and 9. We need about 20 yards to win it.
  • Third and 9 as Gonzo was held with no call. Ball at the 40. WOW.
  • Incomplete as the protection fails completely. Gozno can't come up with it, but it would have been short. Damn.
  • DID TIM JENNINGS JUST SAVE US? Ball at the one! Great play to down the punt. There will be a booth challenge, and it will be close. Looks CLEAN! No angle that I can see can overturn this. Play stands.
  • Stuff on first down. Time out number 1. Dear God, don't let APete go 96 yards.
  • Here we go, third down and five. One timeout left. A stop and we get it with a chance to win.
  • THEY STONED THE SCREEN! PUNT WITH 1:23 from the three! Forsett is at the 50 awaiting the punt.
  • FORSETT TO THE 35 on a 25 yard return. LATE FLAG....late hit on the Colts after the play. I'm sick. Dumb Ass.
  • Jags lost. Titans are going to be tough all year.
  • Robinson drops an easy pass. 3rd and 10. Wow.
  • AV on to win it. 47 yards with 8 ticks left.

Post Game Recap:

It was San Diego II, only this time Adam Vinatieri hits the kick. I've never seen the Colts play worse than they did for two+ quarters, but then Anthony Gonzalez (the UNQUESTIONED player of the game-I will hear no debate on this) saved us with a huge catch and flip to Reggie Wayne. It was an amazing win, and I'm thrilled.

To be honest, we escaped. The Vikings decided they didn't want to gain huge chunks of yards with the run, and handed us a chance to get back in it. The line was still dicey, but when Addai (who ran hard despite getting destroyed on nearly every carry early) scored the first TD, the Vikings defense lost something. They got tired of beating Manning to a pulp, and only pressured him on every third or fourth throw, instead of every throw. Peyton and Reggie both had their mistakes today, but in the biggest spot, they hooked up for a sweet play (think Denver 2006 go ahead TD) and gave AV the chance at redemption.

He took it.

He made it.

We danced.

Hayden is a Colts Fan

Thanks to the IndyStar for this shot of Nicky Hayden of Rapsol Honda Team rounding turn six during qualifing for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2006 MotoGP champ hails from Owensboro Kentucky and decided to honor his favorite team by putting them on his helmet for this race.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jeff Saturday Practiced This Week.

There's nothing else to say.

What he is doing for this team should never be forgotten. I do not care if he doesn't step foot on the field tomorrow. The man has a torn ligament in his knee. He is in his 30s. He has a family. He will be a free agent at the end of this year. Conventional wisdom says, "Be smart. Get surgery. Come back and play a few weeks at the end of the year to show you are healthy, and cash in on a huge free agent deal in the offseason that will set your family up forever."

I would not blame him at all if he did that. He probably should.

Instead, this man is showing incredible strength and loyalty to a franchise that is so loyal to him that it drafted four centers in the year before he becomes a free agent. Jeff Saturday saw his team lose on Sunday night and said, "What the hell, I'll come back TWO MONTHS EARLY".

All week he has been at practice. Working hard. Playing with pain...no wait, not playing...practicing with pain. Doing what no one has the right to ask to him to do.

He's not a firefighter or a cop. He's not a war hero, or even a community activist, come to that. But as much as the word can be used to describe a football player, Jeff Saturday is heroic. Even if he never makes it to game time. No matter what happens tomorrow, the rest of the year, or with his contract, no Colts fan should ever forget:

Jeff Saturday practiced this week.

Go out and win this damn game, boys.

Sleepy Eyes

Better late than never, Eyes in the Backfield is up for week two. Here's a sample:

Week one couldn't have turned out worse for the Horse, and as a reward, the football gods have granted us a virtual rematch, only with a team that is slightly better than the one the Colts just turned into winners. Only this time we get to play them in THEIR loud dome. Bad things happen when you don't win at home! Here's what to watch for this week:

1. Watch for Saturday on Sunday . Jamey Richards blew a key block on 4th down in the 4th quarter of Sunday night’s game, and the line protection was screwy all night with several players missing assignments. Saturday has been practicing all week despite a knee injury that is supposed to keep him out up to 11 weeks. If he plays, it’s a sign of just how bad the line was on Sunday. He is currently listed as probable .

2. Watch for the pitch vs. the stretch. The Colts added a new wrinkle as a concession to Manning’s sore knee. Instead of running stretch plays, they ran a nifty pitch left. The play was fairly successful, but lacks the play action possibilities that came with the classic stretch play. More stretch plays could signal that Manning’s knee is feeling better.

For 16 more thing to keep an eye on, check out the full article. I'll check back in later today with a post about Jeff Saturday and one of the coolest photos I've seen.

All joking aside: VY has serious issues. I don't believe that all depression is necessarily chemical (some is), but I believe anyone who plays a sport where he takes frequent blows to the head, runs the risk of developing physical disorders that manifest themselves emotionally. Or maybe he's just a huge drama queen who needs to act like a man, who knows. At any rate, this news is disturbing. Also, shouldn't VY be suing the pants off his shrink? Should she really be telling the club he thought of suicide? And should the club be telling the cops and the press? Isn't there some kind of confidentiality involved? How did this info become public? Can someone fill me in on the law here?

ESPN's PowerRankings

FO has a new look and this piece scares me with its comments about Harrison's 'twitch reflex'. Is that a real thing?

Moto GP

The inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP takes place tomorrow. 100,000 people will be in the stands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch a motorcycle race. I don't know much about the sport except that they go 200 mph in the straightaways and their bodies are dipped teflon before each race. Here's why:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vince Young's mom asks everyone to pray for Fitzy

Thanks to CHFF for that link and this one.

Kravtiz is fair.

Phil B's piece on rookie Jamey Richards is nice, but if he played so well, why is Saturday trying to comeback 9 weeks early? Richards was destroyed on the Dom run of 4th down. It wasn't all rainbows and ponies on Sunday night.

Michael Lombardi (yes, that Michael Lombardi) likes the Colts this week because:

The one thing I have learned during my 23-year NFL career is when a great quarterback plays bad, he rarely plays bad two weeks in a row.

Uh, Mike...Manning didn't play bad in week one. So if that's your only reason...we are in trouble.

Don Banks says the Colts are desperate to not go 0-2.

Eyes is coming late tonight or early tomorrow.

Demond Sanders: Poor Fitzy. Can you imagine losing the Super Bowl that way and then losing your qb in the first game the next season? That is unreal. I feel bad for everyone involved, with the exception of BB. The Colts may be staring down the barrel of a gun, but things are nowhere near that bad. (Although I retain the right to feel differently if we lose on Sunday.)

The MMTTB Report

The mental prowess of everyone's favorite coach/GM duo continues to grow by the week. After a stunning debut at home over the Vikings Monday night, Aaron Rodgers seems slated for a sure fire Hall of Fame career. Surely, no more vindication is necessary for these two football savants. Even more shocking was their inspired move to trade Favre to the AFC East. Their mental powers have evolved beyond those of mortal men, allowing them to foresee the Brady injury that will propel the Jets to a Super Bowl, thus upping the final value of the pick these gods among men will receive for the aging star. Truly, they are sights to behold. We have it on good authority that they reconstructed Deanna Favre after they came upon her badly burned body. We peg their IQs this week at the interstellar level of 260. (Kudos to anyone who can correctly identify where those heads are from)

Will this motivate JC to help his fellow man? I don't know, but it's pretty cool anyway. Thanks to Dave at 5goldenrings.net for the video.

Whitlock chimes in on VY. My fear is that now that he's gone, the Titans will become real contenders. Several of you have sent in VY links, and after a couple of weeks of data, we'll do another edition of the Vince Young Files. I can get why he's down though. Imagine if you sucked at your job, but everyone thought you were great. Then imagine that as you improved at your job, everyone started to criticize you about the things THAT WERE ALWAYS TRUE. That would be hard to deal with, I suppose. Anyway, I'll save the real ripping for the column in a few weeks.
Check out the Colts record in the division. I'm still mad about that one time we lost to the Texans (DOM! HOLD ON TO THE BALL!). The Titans have always been and will continue to be our real chief rival in the South.

18 Plays to make you feel sick

So we buckled down and did it. We brought ourselves to talk about the game Sunday night. Have fun. You can subscribe via Itunes here, or follow the xml feed.

UPDATE: This is what you get when you edit your XML file at midnight when you have the flu. Most of your Itunes will have downloaded the Bills podcast again. I just fixed it. To download the Bears via Itunes, click the Itunes link above and do it manually. Sorry.

Link: Ed Johnson's good-bye is humble and appreciative. I feel bad for him, but seriously dude...lay off the Mary Jane. It just screwed your career. Thanks to Steve for the link.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Same Video...amazing new intro.

God bless you, Joe Addai. I really needed something good to happen today.

Link: The CBS guys think that the Jags are in trouble. Me too.

Why don't I feel good about this weekend? Howard Mudd is OUT. What? The one thing we need is good O-line play, and the coach is out. Awesome.

Rick Reilly says the Colts couldn't sell out the Dome 4 years ago. Since they've had 56 consecutive sellouts, I'm questioning his math, but whatever. But hey, who needs facts right?

Some People Can't Stand Prosperity

Ed Johnson was busted for pot last night. Smooth buddy. This is a guy who screwed up his first chance at Penn State, cost himself millions due to drugs, and only has a job because Joe Paterno called up the Colts and vouched for him. Now that he has a shot reasonably successful pro career working, he keeps hitting the weed. IDIOT.

He won't play this week. Lovely.

UPDATE: He's been cut. Fun times.

The Manning brothers were named top brothers by ESPN. Damn. I thought we had a chance. Oh wait, they were ranking athletes. Still I was All State (academic, cough cough) in baseball and Demond won the tennis team MVP. That merits some consideration right? No? Frick.

I have the flu

So all you're getting out of me is some links today (and maybe a podcast if I feel better):

CHFF and Foxsports.com power rankings.

Adam Schien thought the Colts had the worst loss of the weekend. Seriously? Explain San Diego to me then.

This is a bit of cheap shot, but it's sort of funny too:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Upon further review...

I finally finished the tape of Sunday night's game. Here are some of my observations (the rest I'll save for the podcast):

1. I was stunned by how different the game seemed on TV with Madden and Michaels announcing it. They painted the Colts as much worse than they seemed live. They were wrong about a lot of things, primarily Madden's observation that Manning didn't look deep enough. I counted 12 times Manning looked deep. There were 2 drops, 1 hurry, 1 sack, 2 coverage throw aways, Wayne didn't get his feet down once, 2 dump downs, 1 defensive penalty, 1 time Wayne had a ball knocked away, and the other was a ball of Wayne's fingertips in the endzone. Three times of 12, the receivers messed up by dropping a ball or failing to get feet down, 4 times the protection wasn't good enough. The 12 deep attempts netted one contact penalty and two dump-off passes. The Colts looked deep fairly often, but the line and receiver play was poor.

2. Here's the breakdown of Manning's incomplete passes:
WR drops 3
Dump offs under pressure 4
Hit as he threw 1
Throw away (good coverage) 2
WR failed to get feet down on sideline 1
Tipped passes (Manning's fault) 2
Tipped pass (O-line) 1
Bad throws by Manning 4
Misread of defense 1

Manning had about 7 passes that were off. 10 of his incomplete passes were failures by the wideouts or O-line, and 2 more can be chalked up to good coverage.

3. Stan's assertion in the comments yesterday that the failure to run the stretch play hurt the Colts offense may prove true in the weeks to come, but there was no evidence of it in this game. He also wondered about the Bears coverage. The Bears coverage was not really that good, and only came into play 5 or so times during the game. The Bears pressure was good, not their coverage. That jived with what we saw at the game, as we only commented on the coverage on two plays. Looking down on the play is where you can best judge the coverage and the QB intent.

4. The loss of Clark was devastating as Robinson couldn't have played worse as blocker. More on that in the podcast. The whole line played bad. Ugoh had the best game by far, but even he gave up a sack late. Charlie Johnson was horrible. Again, more on the line play in the podcast.

5. The lack of a run game late had more to do with the score and the failure of the deep plays than anything. A couple of negative runs in key spots were ugly, but there was yardage to be had most of the time.

6. I'll talk about the 4th down call on the podcast, but let's just say that one guy failed miserably to do his job and a play that should have worked, didn't. I still believe that a punt in that situation would have resulted in a Colts loss. We would have been down two scores and gotten the ball back with time running short and only 1 time out. The Colts were down two scores and were going to be down two scores even if the Bears took a short field for a TD (which they did). A first down might have saved the game. It might have been the wrong play choice, but I still think it was the right call. Over time, the numbers bear out that going for it on fourth and short is a better strategy than punting.

7. Bob Kravitz is on crack. In what may be his worst published piece ever, he litters his report card with inaccuracies and bizarre conclusions:
  • He questions whether the run game problems were Joe Addai's fault. Watch the tape, Bob. IT WAS THE LINE. Addai several times made men miss at the line of scrimmage to get big runs. He had a couple of key runs for losses where he was annihilated as he took the hand off. To blame Addai is ignorant and lazy.
  • I'm not sure how he figured the Colts YPA, but it should be 5.2. He lists it at 4.7. He may be including sack data, but I doubt it. I think he's just lazy. He claimed Manning had 'rust' that was 'mental'. There is simply no indication of that. Again, watching the tape showed the Colts attempting to do all the things they always do, but poor line and WR play doomed the offense. I'm not sure what 'ghosts' Manning was seeing, but he didn't look confused on tape. He looked frustrated at his line, but not confused.
  • He called the Colts special teams "atrocious". Again, without any real reason why. The Colts special teams outplayed the Bears. For once, they were not the cause of the loss. There was a poor strategic decision early and one penalty on a return. They also made a great play on Hester's hesitation return.
  • He is 100% wrong on the volume of the stadium. The Luke was extremely loud in pregame introductions. He admits he couldn't hear because the press box is sealed, and then says it wasn't the fans that weren't loud, it was the stadium. The fans were full throttle through the first Bears possession, but then the pace and events of the game took them out of it. Sorry Bob, you weren't paying enough attention. The crowd WAS the reason for the lack of noise, but if you came out of the press box once in a while, you might know that.

8. I don't like our chances on Sunday. As long as Charlie Johnson is playing, we are in trouble. He was amazingly bad.

9. The dumbest thing a fan can do is kill the coach for decisions that didn't decide the game. Don't criticize a coach for challenging a big play. Stupid coaches (Jack Del Rio) challenge spots (like whether it was a TD for the Jags or a 2nd and goal from the two inch line) or meaningless 5 yard catches. On huge plays like the saftey and the fumble, challenging the play is the right thing to do. Never forget Troy Polamalu. There was never a play that looked less overturnable than that.

Dungy didn't lose that game.

Marvin Harrison, Charlie Johnson, Ryan Diem, Jamey Richards and Gijon Robinson lost that game.

Simmons whines about Brady's knee.

Vince Young is a nut job.

FO looks at our injury situation

I get why the Colts drop, but how does San Diego not fall farther? We have an excuse. What was theirs?

Here are those DVOA rankings.

Quick Reads says Peyton didn't do too bad, but I'm still fuzzy on the new stats.

Floyd Reese isn't always very smart, but I'm really hoping he doesn't remember how bad the Colts line was last year.

Any Given Sunday is more about the Bears playing well than the Colts sucking.