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:

WHEN WE RAN, WE SCORED.

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.

Links:

Peyton answers questions

24 comments:

Shake'n'bake said...

Really neither pick should have been thrown, the first one was because the right side of the line collapsed and let two rushers through. Even if Mathis had kept his hands off he would have been right on Marvin to tip it away or make an immediate tackle.

jc said...

DZ:

I'm gonna be in South America w/ my boy Whitey Bulger in the next few weeks.

What do they drink in Argentina?

Deshawn Zombie said...

Quilmes is the Budwieser of Argentina.

Deshawn Zombie said...

I don't think Mathis could have gotten a hand on that ball without interfering with Marvin. He slung himself around the corner using 88's jersey as a pivot. I'm still in shock that call wasn't made.

zachary Pittman said...

Ignorant question:

Is DC to Argentina a typical route? Seems a bit odd.

Deshawn Zombie said...

It's not an ignorant question. BA is a major world city, and there are direct flights from several US cities. Miami is a common one, but you can get flights from LA, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, and DC as well.

The last several times I've flown, I've gone through DC because that seems to be the cheapest way back to Indy.

Jessi said...

As we were without power and unable to watch the last 2 games, we have really appreciated this blog the past couple of weeks. Thanks for all your work (I know you love it) and for all the info.
I can't believe you met Saturday. What is it with you brothers and your random meeting of Colts players in unexpected places?

Deshawn Zombie said...

Some of that is just being able to recognize the Joe Addai's and Jeff Saturday's of the world by their faces.

Scott P said...

Let's compare clock management at the end of this game vs the AFCCG. Not only should the Colts (ie. Manning) have called a running play on 1st & 2 but also on 2nd & 2 from the 22 with 1:26 left. With Jax playing nickel, a running play probably would have moved the chains & run off some time. Inside the 20 with 1 timeout remaining, the clock had minimal impact on the Colts offense.

In the AFCCG, the Colts had 1st down from the 11 at the 2 minute warning & 1 timeout left. It doesn't matter whether it was Moore or Dungy or (as I've heard somewhere) Marvin who said, "We've got to run the ball." During that timeout, SOMEONE CONVINCED MANNING that running the ball gave the Colts the best chance to WIN THE GAME.

As we all know, 3 running plays ended with Addai's TD. But it was very important that those plays also a) ran the clock down to 1:00 & b) forced NE to use a timeout.

I honestly think that Peyton often has tunnel-vision focusing solely on scoring instead of managing the game. But Dungy & Moore are very much to blame for this. You can let your QB run the show most of the time but there are critical moments in close games where the coach(s) needs to exert their authority & make the decisions.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Scott, you couldn't be more wrong.

First: the AFC Championship game saw the Colts down 3, not 6. In that circumstance running the ball will result in AT WORST a field goal to tie the game.

That leads to point #2: In the AFC Championship game, the Colts were already inside the 15 due to the penalty. Running was a much more viable option. In this case, the Colts were at the 22 and moved to the 2 in one play, and you want to criticize that? Since when did 20 yard gains when you are down by 6 with under 1:30 to play become fodder for criticism?

#3 It was Marvin Harrison who convinced Manning to run the ball in the AFC Championship game. Peyton got in the huddle and Marvin said, "Let's run it". Peyton figured that if even Marvin wanted to run, they should.

I totally disagree about "times in the game when the coach should exert his authority". That's utterly asinine. Everyone killed Dungy for doing that in week one on the fourth down play when he INSISTED they run two tight ends. You march up the field every game(for going on a decade) by depending on your best player to make the call based on the defense he sees, and now suddenly you want the coach to say, "thanks for driving us 78 yards, Peyton, but now I'm taking over, and I don't want you to change what I call even if you see the play won't work at the line of scrimmage, because I'm the coach and there are times when it's better to be in charge and just flat be wrong, than to trust what we've always done"

I always want the Colts to run the ball. I firmly believe that a first down run would have resulted in the Jags having about 10 more seconds to work with, and I'm not stupid enough to say, "yeah, that 20 yards catch and run play that moved us to the two was a dumb call, even though we were down six points".

Scott P said...

Well, maybe I couldn't be more wrong about end game management but the absolute TRUTH is that the Colts LOST the game even though the offense scored a go-ahead TD.

The Colts D had been on the field for 26 minutes & 39 plays during the 2nd half alone. Of course, priority #1 is to score a TD because you lose if you don't score 7. But priority #2 should have been to score & leave as little time as possible for Jax to beat you with a FG.

I am not criticizing the great pass play to Wayne to the 2. But that came on THIRD & 2 from the 22. On 2nd & 2, Manning tried to hit Harrison (again) on a slant but it was incomplete, stopping the clock.

2nd & 2 from the 22-- that's when I wanted them to run the ball.
a) The Colts were averaging 6 yards per rush.
b) The Jags had 5 DB's out there.

So why not run the ball to get a 1st down & run off some clock??? Makes perfect sense to me. Give it to Addai for a 1st down. Do the sugar huddle like always & then run the play to Wayne. A handoff to Addai would have worked out better than the inc. pass to Marvin even if they stuffed the run for no gain.

And if you think that Dungy or Moore don't have the right to say to Manning during a timeout or over the headset "Hey Peyton, we don't want to leave too much time for them so, if you get a chance, run the ball or run some clock", then let's start calling him Coach Manning while Dungy & Moore find nice condos in Del Boca Vista.

p.s. One more thing-- the Colts are NOT "marching up the field every game" anymore. So maybe Peyton needs to "manage the game" a little more instead of trying to score 40 points a game like the good old days.

Deshawn Zombie said...

The Colts didn't lose that game because of end game management. They lost that game because Peyton made a dumbass throw in the third quarter.

You are right, of course that the coaches have the right to take play calling away from Manning. I just think that is a bad idea. I don't think that given the injuries to Manning, the line, and the TEs, that it's time to panic about the offense and change what's worked for a freaking decade.

About 30 things went wrong in that game to cost Indy. If any one of them goes the other way (including Freeney's insane tipped ball play), the Colts win. Hell, if the official flags the first Mathis pick, we are up 14-3 at the half (at worst), and probably win by 20 (which is what we felt like it would be in the first half).

Changing the philosophy of the team based on 3 games doesn't make sense.

Peyton cost us this game with a stupid pick. He also almost won us this game. At the end of the day, I will ALWAYS take my chances with him calling the plays and making the right throws. He didn't come through this time, but he usually does. He's the safest bet.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Also, remember the San Diego game in the playoffs. Getting that last score is never a gimme. People criticized the Colts for calling a run play on second down in that game.

(Although the run O was stagnant that day, and robust on Sunday)

The offensive job is to score the TD. That is their only responsibility. The D has to hold up their end.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Peyton's pick in the 3d Q cost the game?! Not stupid tackling fundamentals (over and over and over and over and over and over and over)? Not the failure of the refs to call the penalties? Not the failure of the D-line to generate a pass rush against a weak O-line? Not the failure of the secondary to take away the short stuff and force a weak QB to try to go deep?

I think some folks need to take the advice in the post and watch the game more closely.

Hell, even the lucky bounce by the Jags to get in FG range at the end was a bigger factor than the 3d Q pick. An informed list of important errors that "cost the game" would have a large number of items on it before the pick.

Stan

Deshawn Zombie said...

What caused the sloppy tackling and lethargic play?

It was a factor of being on the field for too long. The Jags took the opening kickoff of the second half and went on a long (9 1/2 minutes), but fruitless drive that ended in Garrard's pick. The Jags ran for 25 yards on 10 carries on that drive.

This was the critical moment of the game. The Jags had managed only 3 points on offense until that point. The Colts ran two successful plays down to the Jags 35. They had a chance to run the ball, chew clock, and put them down at least 7 points. Instead, Manning threw the pick, which resulted in less than a minute of ToP at a time when the D clearly needed rest.

The Jags took the ball, scored the TD and took the lead. They racked up 48 yards on just five carries on the ensuing drive.

Manning's pick changed the game. The defense was clearly worn out and needed to stay off the field for a few more minutes. It was THE game changing play.

Watch the D before and after that play. You'll see what I mean.

Deshawn Zombie said...

The D failed to get a rush for several reasons:

1. The Jags brought in a max protect line. They had two TEs and a back in to help on most plays.

2. The Jags didn't pass downfield even once all day. Every pass they threw was inside of 10 yards. It's hard to generate a pass rush when the QB is throwing short slants and dump offs. Garrard only looked to a WR 10 times all game (by my count off the NFL play by play). All of those looks were short.

3. By the end of the game, the defense had been on the field for 40 minutes (because the Colts had two drives that lasted just 7 plays including a punt).

Had the D gotten adequate rest after the 9 minute drive to start the second half, it is probable that they would have continued to play about like they had earlier in the game.

Westside Rob said...

It seems pointless to ever try and point out the single biggest thing that causeda loss. It'a about as useful as trying to blame a single person, party, or company for the current state of the economy.

DZ, I think you are overstating the whole Peyton/Coach interaction issue. As a business owner I put a lot of faith in my employees hands to do their jobs on a daily basis. However there are times when my experience and instints lead me to make a suggestion (or sometimes give an order) that might override their thinking. I'm ultimately responsible so that's my job to know when to make that suggestion and when to let them make the call themselves.

Dungy/Moore probably should have (and maybe they did we'll never know) said to Peyton over the headset, "Lets take what they'll give us but let's milk the clock down as much as possible, since they'll only need a field goal to win" If the Jags had stopped our running game AT ALL that day checking to the Pass would have been the right call no matter the time on the clock. But they hadn't so the safest play and the play that if it doesn't score gives you still a favorable outcome is to call the run.

Peyton's job at the line is to play the percentages and call the right play for that situation. A BIG Part of the percentages at that point is time management, "saftey" (afterall he'd already thrown 2 picks that day", and getting the score. All 3 things have to factor into his call.

Deshawn Zombie said...

My point is that if there was EVER a time to tell Peyton not to throw it would have been in the third quarter, not the fourth.

Not running the ball when the defense was gassed and needed a good 5 minute break was far more eggregious than not running it with time running out down 6 points.

The Colts system is unlike any other in football. Peyton has more control than any QB has had since Unitas. Tom Moore doesn't call plays; he gives three suggestions. Peyton runs the show. Tony called a play in week one, and said he wouldn't do it again. He overruled his O-Coordinator and his QB and it failed. He took the blame.

I think that 'solutions' that call into question the whole system aren't necessary. If the Colts go 6-10, then maybe arguments can be made for changing everything. I've seen nothing to date to make me think there is anything 'broken' that can't be solved by getting a few more guys back and healthy. (or by finding a new nickle back)

Westside Rob said...

We agree that they should have been running in the 3rd qtr. I understand your point about the 4th but still disagree.

We agree that nothing is broken that can't be fixed but what I don't want to see is that same mistakes made again. This is the same philosphy I push to my staff. It's OK to mess up AS LONG as you don't make the same mistake again.

Lets hope the Colts can learn from their mistakes and that combined with getting healthier gets this team back to form.

Igor said...

DZ, welcome back to South America! I hope you will have a great time with nuestros hermanos argentinos. How do you intend to watch the Colts' games? I have a hard time watching them here in Brazil.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Eventually, I'll get DirecTV again, but for right now, I have a friend with a sling box set up in the states. I'll watch the games off his box.

Igor said...

Does the Argentine DirecTV offer some sort of NFL Sunday ticket? If it does, it will be the ultimate proof that satellite TV in Brazil sucks. We get Sunday and Monday night games on ESPN international with original sound and all. We also get ONE game Sunday afternoon on an obscure sports channel. The local play-by-play announcer and color commentator make you beg for Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser. I watched the Colts x Jags game on a crappy semi-live internet broadcast. Anywho... good to know you will be able to keep providing your insights from far away.

Anonymous said...

link

That "Fitzy" that was mentioned a few weeks ago did another video this week.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Yeah, DirecTV in Argentina offers the NFL Sunday ticket for about $50 pesos a season (18 US$). As soon as I get into my new place and get it installed I'll be up and running.