Friday, October 31, 2008

Tape Worm

Here are my observations after watching the tape from the Colts Titans:

1. ESPN did a terrible job with replays. Way too many tight shots on replays. I guess they are 'dramatic', but they don't tell you anything. They never replayed the key fourth down incompletion to Harrison. Awful.

2. Mike Pollack really did play poorly. He was dominated all night. Ugoh struggled a bit early, and there were a couple of plays where either he or CJ failed to block the right guy. Ugoh played better as the game went along. Pollack is the weak link right now. (Horray for CJ! He's off the bottom of the totem pole!)

3. Darrell Reid completely missed blocking the guy who tackled Rhodes in the backfield on the key fourth down play. If he makes that block, Dom has a chance. He didn't, and he didn't.

4. Manning actually played significantly better than I initially thought. He was off on a couple of throws, and the Titans made a play or two, but mostly he was ok. There were a lot of plays on early downs where Pollack would miss a block and Manning would quickly dump off. The line was better in the sense that Manning at least had time to unload. It was not better in the sense that he tons of time. I never had a good look at the Clark pick until I just saw it. Yikes. The ball hits him in the hands and then in the shoulder. Gotta make that play, 44.

5. Clint Session played GREAT on run D, but struggled in coverage. On the key 3rd down with the Titans up 17-14, the Colts actually put Bethea in at linebacker, but he made the same mistake Session did. Neither guy got deep enough in the zone to take away the out route to the WR. In all, the linebackers were wonderful. It was easily their best game of the year.

6. On the Titans key drive to tie the game they converted three big third downs. One was on an illegal contact foul (which ESPN never showed). The second was converted on Dante Hughes and Matt Giordano. The third was completed on Hughes and Bullitt. Tell me that injuries in the secondary haven't killed the Colts. There was also a pick on the second third down play that the officials missed. It should have been offensive PI. Mostly, the officiating was clean from what ESPN showed (which wasn't much).

7. The score at the end of the third quarter was 14-14. Somehow I forgot how close that game was. It made watching it all the more frustrating. They should have won this game. Now we know why Tim Jennings is the #3 CB...because Kerry Collins completed A LOT of throws on Dante Hughes. The holes in the zone were just too big.

Mostly, I was encouraged by the tape. This looked like a team ready to break out. If so, it had better happen fast. There are some tough games on the back half of the schedule, and 5 losses at the half way mark might be too many to overcome.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not excuses. Reasons.

Talking about injuries is dicey. No one wants to make excuses for why a team struggles. In the NFL, you are what you are. There are no bonus points for style or playing hurt. At the end of the day, a team's record speaks for itself. The 2007 and 2008 Colts have seen a stunning wave of injuries, and they have left the team far from elite. Would they be better if everyone was healthy? Maybe, probably, whatever. Players aren't healthy, so the team isn't elite.

What injuries do provide is a reason for the struggles. The Colts aren't struggling because of Dungy's coaching. They shouldn't radically change the way they play long term (although obviously adjustments have to be made due to changes in personnel). There is no problem with the Colts philosophies or systems. They've been crushed by injuries. That's the reason they are 3-4. That's why they are 12-8 in their last 20 games. In the modern NFL, depth is a dicey issue anyway. A team might have a good back up at a couple of positions. The Colts have Dom Rhodes and Melvin Bullitt filling in nicely. Ultimately, whenever a team loses a lot of games by key players, that team will struggle.

It's fun to try and find the imaginary complex culprit, but it's right there in front of us. If the injury wave doesn't abate, the Colts will be washed under by it. There is simply nothing to be done about it. If they get players back and healthy (starting the same offensive line in consecutive weeks will be a great start!), they'll probably play a lot better. If they don't, then no other change will help.

By the way, for those who missed it, MJax may be done for the year. Yee Haw. 9 more weeks of Tim Jennings.

Here's some video from Manning shooting a Master Card commercial



My buddy Tim sent me this. It shows just how huge soccer is here in Argentina. It's also a little creepy. Seriously...read this even if you don't give a crap about soccer. It's hilarious.

Nice work by Shake again. Just in case someone out there was down on the Jaddai Master.

Mike Tanier looks back at the history of Colts-Pats

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Congrats Philly


It's about time. Kill that damn monkey already.

Life Below Sea Level

It's been a long time since the Colts were under .500 for more than one week in a season. We are now going on our fourth week below the break even point (after Chicago, 2 weeks after Jacksonville). Demond complained to me that he didn't even want to go to the game Sunday, and it occurred to me that we all might have forgotten what normal life was like in the NFL. We have seen a historic run of playoff football and 10 win teams, and we've forgotten what it was like to follow a franchise that drafts in the top 5 all the time. So here's a fans survival guide for rooting for a mediocre team.

1. Have fun-It sounds simple right? We all watch football because on some level we like it. The problem is, once your team hits a certain level, it's easy to mistakenly think that the only way to have a good season is to win it all. Thus, for whole months at a time you feel bored or tune out, just waiting for the games that really matter. Now? Just go have fun at the games. Realize that your team isn't that good, and that they'll lose some. We have a beautiful stadium and a great down town. Go tailgate, enjoy a lovely fall evening...whatever. Just have fun. The pressure of getting a #1 seed is off.

2. Look on the brightside. Every game means something now? Remember all those useless December games we had last year? They matter now. If you have season tickets and can't make it to a game, you have a chance to sell your ticket for better than face. Plus, because Tom Brady is hurt, a lot of the venom has gone out of this week's Pats game.

3. Remember the bad old days. 3-4? I've been to enough games when we were 1-6, that 3-4 looks good. We root for a team that has some talent and hope for the future. About half the franchises in the NFL would trade places with Indy this season. There were years when 3-4 had everyone excited because if we could just get hot maybe we could finish at 9-7 and make the playoffs. Remember everyone's favorite Colts squad? The 1995 Colts were...9-7.

4. Remember that we won a Super Bowl. I agree with Bill Simmons 5 year moratorium on bitching about the team after winning a title. We won it all. Polian, Dungy, and the rest brought us something we had NEVER seen. This week, if you are the Luke, glance up at the banner and at the Pats on field and smile because we've won more recently than they have.

5. Look to the future. Eventually, even if it's next season, this team will get back to an elite level. For the last 12 months everything that could go wrong has. The following players have had serious injuries:
Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Jeff Saturday, Joseph Addai, Dwight Freeney, Ryan Lilja, Tony Ugoh, Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden, Rob Morris, Tyjuan Hagler, Robert Mathis...oh yeah and two DTs are gone for various reasons.
There is no reason not to assume that in a month or two, or at the worst by next season this team will be right back to where it was. Even if it doesn't happen this year, things will be ok next year. Plus, a weak season this year means better draft picks next year. Woo hoo.

6. Remember the Giants and Steelers. At this point in the season of their Super Bowl runs, both teams seemed to have played their way out of contention. Oops. Don't jump ship just yet. Having said that, there's no reason to play Pollyanna either. It's reasonable to doubt that this incarnation of the Colts will turn things around. They are very average. They have about two weeks of leeway before the shark has officially been jumped on 2008.

7. It could be worse. We could be 5-2 and Peyton Manning could be lost for the year. Everyone critiques every throw by Peyton and blames it on his knee. Imagine what it'll be like for Tom Brady next year? He's coming back to an offense that will have an even older Randy Moss, and there's a good chance he won't have as stellar a season as the media expects. Pats fans can expect to face AT LEAST one more year of nothing but Brady's knee talks. And if he never throws 30 TD passes again (and the odds are against him), they'll hear about his knee forever. Pats fans are in a no win scenario. If they win it all this year with Matt Cassel at QB, their immortal favorite player automatically drops several notches in prestige. If they don't win it all, they'll hear all offseason about Brady's rehab, and have to sweat his comeback well into next year.

We could also be San Diego fans at 3-5. Yikes. Worst of all, we could be Jags fans (if there were such a thing). The Jags are watching the Colts come back to earth just as they always dreamed...and they are muddling along at 3-4 utterly incapable of running the ball. Indy stumbles, and they couldn't take advantage. Ouch. That's got to hurt.

I don't know about you guys...but I think I can be thankful for 3-4. At least a little. At least until 8 o'clock on Sunday night.

Links:
Hugging Harold Reynolds wants to know why #18 so popular with gang bangers

Paul Kuharsky has an EXCELLENT post about the Colts 'window' not being closed. He says if anything, the Colts are too young.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Post Mortem

Sometimes it's difficult to enumerate all of the things that suck, but I'll give it a try:


  • I can't believe that the game got preempted on ESPNI for a World Series game that only went 6 innings. Then they never switched to the game even during the rain delay.
  • I can't believe I was constantly as many as 5 minutes behind on the chat last night. I eventually gave up.
  • I can't believe that I woke up 6 hours after going to bed when I could have slept in
  • I can't believe we lost to that Titans team
And that's the one that really sticks with me. I watched most of that game thinking: 'Tennessee isn't very good', and 'This is exactly the type of team we used to beat'.

Ultimately, last night revealed nothing we didn't already know. This Colts team is painfully average on both sides of the ball. On offense, Indy got into Titan territory 4 times (and to the 50 another) with no points to show for it. On defense, they had Kerry Collins in 3rd and 8, 9, and 10 in the third and fourth quarter. The defense gave up 51 passing yards on those three plays, and two different drives ended in touchdowns. That's the game.

Random thoughts from someone who didn't get enough sleep:

  • I take it back about Marvin. If he was truly ok, he wouldn't be blanketed by likes of Nick Harper. I never thought I'd see the day. He and Reggie Wayne have become completely invisible. Marvin is still drawing coverage, but he's also still drawing throws...which aren't being completed. I'm sick over it.
  • The line showed signs of life last night, but for the second time this season, the Colts ran a huge fourth down play at midfield, only to see Dom get swallowed for a loss. That's not acceptable. I liked the decision to go for it there, because it felt like the defense was broken by the previous drive in which the Titans held the ball for nearly 8 minutes and went 4-4 on third down. The game was tied, but the Colts HAD to answer. The offense had four possessions in the second half, scored two touch downs and failed on two fourth down conversions. In other words, they were right there. The defense saw the field four times giving up 3 touchdowns and a field goal.
  • We never had a hero last night. Manning didn't come through, and I felt like he played one of his worst games. The defense never forced a turnover despite having at least four balls right on their finger tips.
  • This was exactly the kind of loss I was dreading yesterday. The in-between loss. This is the kind of loss that says, "the season isn't over, but it might be soon". Now we face a weird Patriots team that isn't good at anything and is 5-2.

I'll have to watch the tape before saying anything else. I expected to be ready to jump off the bridge after that game. I never expected the bridge to collapse right out from underneath me.

Links:

ESPN breaks down Manning's night by distance. Basically, they couldn't hit the deep ball.

Collapse


Titans 31 Colts 21

Monday, October 27, 2008

Titans Live Blog

Huge game tonight. This week we are participating in a live blog with some of the MVN writers. This should be fun. At least until Demond goes nuclear, taking out everyone within a 14 mile radius.

Interview #2

Here's a link to the second interview I did for MVN. The worst part about watching this game in South America is that it won't start until 10:30 my time. It's not just that it's late at night, but that I'll wait all day for it.

The biggest consequence of yesterday's AFC massacre is that Indy can still make the playoffs even if they lose tonight's game. A loss tonight, and the Colts are still only a game behind the Jets and Ravens. No one wants to be on the outside looking in, but we all have to be careful not to jump off any bridges if the game goes the wrong way. More than a win or a loss, this team needs to play well. Another crap-fest on the heels of last week's dud, won't bode well for the rest of the year. If the team plays well, but loses on a freak play or bad call, it'll hurt, but in terms of record, won't necessarily preclude a playoff run.

Let's face there's a lot of teams that would love to be in Indy's shoes this morning. Jacksonville and San Diego have to have serious doubts this morning. Even the Jets have to wonder what is going on. Indy is only 3-3, but they wake up this morning with a chance to set their season right. Lots of other teams are wondering if that chance will ever come.

One note on tonight's live game blog. We'll be participating in a chat via MVN with some Tennessee bloggers and MVN people. They invited us to participate, and we said yes. They said they want interaction with our readers. Just so you all know, we won't be 'running' the discussion, so if some of your comments don't make it in, I'm sorry. It should be lively and interesting, and you can access it right here just like last week. As always, we appriciate both your participation and feedback, so if you find this format limiting let us know about it. The interface will look just like last week, and will be posted sometime before game time (as soon as they send us the data).

Links:
FO says defensive penalties don't hurt as much as offensive penalties. I'm sure it's true overall, but don't tell Tim Jennings that.

Kravitz likes the Colts. More importantly, he refers to Lucas Oil Stadium as "The Luke". You may wonder why this is so important to me. I have two friends who named kids after ballparks. One named his son Camden and the other named his daughter Wrigley. For an odd combination of family and bizarre Argentine legal reasons, if I have a son, we are naming him Lucas and calling him Luke. I just want to fit in the trend. Yet one more reason to root for another boy.

PK has a great quote from the Titans Mike Munchak on Freeney
"Freeney's the best rusher we face in the league,'' said Munchak. "He changed the game. You don't understand his speed until you play him. What we do is go heavy on speed during practice before we play him, and then hope we can get ahead of them and just pound the ball.''

Dallas Clark talks to Mike Tirico

Tarik Glenn offers his thoughts on the men who have replaced him. He's wrong. CJ has not 'played well' by any standard unless you compare him only with himself. He's playing better than he used to. This does not qualify as 'playing well'.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Does the AFC suck?

It is a good thing the AFC kind of blows this year. It is no coincidence that the Colts had maybe their best day of the season without stepping on the field:

Miami 25 - Buffalo 16

New Orleans 37 - San Diego 32

Cleveland 23 - Jacksonville 17

New York 21 - Pittsburgh 14

Two teams got their second loss and the Colts gained some significant ground against much of last year's playoff field. Is it kind of sad that I'm so excited about these results? Yes. Do I care? No. The Colts need a lot of luck to get back on track and a bunched up AFC should do the trick. Hey, I'm just looking for a reason to care at this point. This was big.

Of course this day will only matter if they go on the road and beat the undefeated Titans tomorrow night. The Colts have won 8 of their past 10 against the Titans. Manning sat out last years finale and thus Tennessee's only "real" victory came on a 60 yard field goal by Rob Bironas. A win saves the season and sets up an unconventional Manning - Cassel showdown. Winner gets momentum and a potential tiebreaker.

We know how big this game is to the Colts, but what about the Titans? How about this: if they win this game they win the South. That sounds like hyperbole, but it is not an overstatement. They would be four games up on the entire division. Stunning, because we are just seven games into the season. They would also have a two-game lead on in the race for the AFC's one-seed. So, yeah, they have a lot to play for, too. If the Titans lose? The Colts would be two games back with the rematch taking place in week 17 in Indianapolis. Two games is still a comfortable margin, but Tennessee has a tough month ahead. After MNF they host the Packers before heading on the road to Chicago and Jacksonville. I think Monday night's game is as big as it gets in the NFL regular season.

For the Great Unwashed

All of you who read 18to88.com regularly know what we think about the state of the team. For everyone else, it requires some explanation.

Here's one of my two interviews through MVN. I do my best to cut through the usual sound bite nonsense and illuminate what's really going on with the Horse. I really think that it's tempting as fans to get tired of talking about injuries becuase we have had such a nightmare 12 months. Just because we are tired of saying it, doesn't change the fact that this team isn't close to healthy and it shows. It's not an excuse; they HAVE to find a way to get it done. But let's not go all crazy if they don't. Sometimes you just don't have the horses on the field to win. It drives us nuts when Tim Jennings gets four penalties in one game, but it shouldn't surprise us. He's a below average nickle back. When he's on the field more than usual, he's going to look awful. Same with CJ, and Session (who has improved a lot actually), and the half dozen rookies that have started on offense.

By the way, we haven't really talked about it much (at all), but 18to88 is now part of the MVN Network, at least in theory. There have been platform problems that have delayed the launch, but eventually, we will re-launch 18to88 as one page instead of the site/blog division we have now. Someday, you'll just head straight to 18to88.com for everything. That day was supposed to happen several times now...but hasn't. They are having problems importing all the blog/website archives into the new format. Anyway, we'll keep you posted.

Also many of you may have realized that 18to88.com has a Facebook presence. Feel free to look up Demond Sanders (they wouldn't accept Deshawn Zombie as a screen name), and befriend us if you are in to that kind of thing. There is also a group called "Friends of 18to88.com".

Demond Sanders: You're right about the injuries. It is that simple. They need Ugoh back at his 2007 level or better. He was very solid last year, both run and pass blocking. This season has shown us that having healthy playmakers (Wayne, Harrison, Gonzalez, Clark) does not trump having healthy linemen.

Is there reason to panic? Yes, in the sense that they are playing a MUST win game tomorrow night. I think the worst part is that we have no idea what to expect from the team on a given Sunday. They have to win these next two, at a minimum. If they can do that they'll be right back in the playoff race, if not the division. I'm rooting for the Bills and Steelers to trip up today.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Moonlighting

I've been busy today doing a couple of interviews with other sites (links to be posted here soon). The result is that I had precious little desire or energy to write anything for my own site. But have no fear, dear readers...Eyes in the Backfield is coming out anyway. Here's a taste:

Usually, we start each week with a look back at last week's Eyes, but I wouldn't blame anyone who just flat wants to forget the debacle that was the Packers game. Unfortunately, things don't get any easier this week as the Colts head south to take on the Titans. Tennessee is undefeated this year, and everyone is curious to see just how good they can be. Indy is already three games behind the Titans and simply must win this game to have any hope at all of keeping the streak of division titles alive. This week be watching for:

1. The real Slim Shady to stand up. Who are these guys? Perhaps the answer is as simple as a look at the lengthy injury list this year, but at some point fans start to get tired of the obvious answers and grasp at straws. One week the team looks like world beaters and the next they are like refugees from 8 Mile. Which Colts team will show this week? I don't know but the whole mess makes want to bust a cap in someone. (Note to self: Rap is not your thing. Stick with what you know). On the Titans front, the story is the same. The Titans are 6-0 but still have a lot of doubters.

2. Watch for a Hero. We couldn't find one last week as both the offense and defense failed to come through, and Peyton played his worst game in years. The line couldn't figure out how to manipulate time and space; Reggie Wayne couldn't fly with guys grabbing him constantly; Joe Addai couldn't heal himself, and Peyton...he looked like he was trapped in someone else's body. If the Colts don't have a couple of players come up large this week, the only future I'll be painting will be someone else in the playoffs. (Note to self: Ah, much better).

As always, if you want more, just click.

Links:
Phil B thinks Sanders and Hayden are close. Glory hallelujah! This team will be good at some point this year. It's just a matter of how bad things get record-wise first. Take any 3-3 team and add back multiple pro-bowl players and front line starters, and it'll improve. A Giants/Steelers-like run isn't out of the question. I'll keep saying that, and I'll let you know when I really believe it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Staph Report

So now the NFL is all a buzz about Staph infections. Tommy Boy apparently has had several, as has Kellen Winslow, and our own #18. I'm not a doctor. I've always heard that staph infections were very common in hospitals and could be real trouble. Bob Kravitz fears it's an epidemic. I think it's fascinating that now we find out that Manning really did have an infection because at the time he was missing from camp, the Colts said they were afraid of infection. The press laughed at them and made "just how dirty do you think we are?" cracks. Lombardi used the fact that Manning was staying away from the facility and rehabbing at home as 'evidence' that there was something seriously wrong with him, and concluded the Colts were 'hiding' things, saying that he had never heard of a player doing that before. Now we find out, that he really had had an infection, and in all likelihood, the Colts really didn't want him anywhere near the locker room and other places that could exacerbate the problem. Manning was in hiding because...they were afraid of more infection. In others words...exactly what the Colts said at the time.

UPDATE: The Colts now say there was no second infection. They say:
The second procedure (tacking of the skin to eliminate the bursal space) was designed to ensure the complete and swift resolution of the bursal problem. The procedure was successful. The second procedure was in now way, shape or form, related to the infection. The second procedure did not delay his rehabilitation or recovery materially. It also should be noted emphatically that, at no time, did he have MRSA.

I give up.

I no longer know nor care what happened. Unless something new happens with Peyton's knee, I can't see that has made any real difference in this season. It's hilarious that after last week's game, several people brought up the knee again, a week after declaring him fine. The Colts problem is not, nor ever has been Peyton's knee. It's the freaking line, who is getting better in pass pro, but still can't run block.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are you Pondering what I'm Pondering? A MMTTB Report

Well that went well! Last week, the Colts managed to waltz into Lambeau Field and make the utterly average tandem of McCarthy and Thompson look smart again, and at exactly the same time Brett Favre's Jets were falling in overtime to the Raiders, (though Favre did lead a game tying drive). So what to make of these two? Are they smart or not?

On the one hand, they are now 4-3, and the gimpy arm of Aaron Rodgers held up well last week for an efficient game. On the other, they had an NFC finalist team and have coached it up to 4-3. So are they smart? The media talked at length about how great Aaron Rodgers played last week, and McCarthy's decision to go for it on 4th and 1 in his own territory effectively won the game for the Packers, so we'll split the difference. Their combined IQ is still impressive, but somehow we still get the suspicion that their plans to take over the world will come up short before all is said and done. Let's put them at 145 this week...but note that it's an average of the two. One may be considerably smarter than the other.

Links:

Polian doesn't have any more or different answers than we do. That's what drives you nuts about this team. The answers are simple: injuries both past and present. There's no big secret thing. It's a banged up team with too many players out of sync and off the field. His answer on Ugoh is interesting, and his answer on 4th and 1 is ridiculous.

Fun Facts about the Pacers. Eh.

Edge is unhappy...sorry man. I wish better for you

Good notes on past and present Colts

Tanier likes the Horse on Monday. I have no idea what to expect. I don't think the Titans are 'Super Bowl' good. I don't know what to make of the Colts. Both teams desperately want this game...who wins? I have no freaking idea.

One guy still likes Eli over Big Ben. I think it's hard to argue against Roethlisberger's numbers.

(Sorry for the Blogger outage that prevented you from making comments and me from fixing some spelling errors)

RAAAAAAAZZZZOOOOR Shines has a job with the Mets. Thanks to Chad for keeping us up to date on our favorite ex-Indian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thank God for Baseball

"It's baseball, Ray" Darth Vader said once. And he's right. It certainly is baseball. When your team is a mess...it's baseball. When your line is jacked all to hell...it's baseball. When Tim Jennings is your starting cornerback...it's baseball. Unless you are a fan of one of the defeated teams, the best part of extended playoffs is that it gives you a chance to heal up from the long (disappointing) season, and prepare for one last gasp of summer. I'm thankful on this Spring (living in South America is weird) day, that for a few more nights, baseball will be there with me. I don't care much for either team. I don't have to. It may be teal and maroon, but it's still played on a diamond. It may be under a roof and on plastic, but it's still 60 feet 6 inches.

Thank God for baseball. At least for one more week.

Links:
Keith Kidd says Wayne is the master route runner. If he is, it's because he worked hard and learned from the best route runner ever: 88.

Scramble says Bobby was a traitor
. Maybe so, but his son plays a nice Richie to his dad's Royal.

More teams are going for small ball from the wideouts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I have nothing to say today

I'm still in shock over that mess on Sunday. I'm depressed because I see no way for this team to improve quickly. There are too many guys hurt. I realize that some (Addai, Hayden, Sanders) may come back, but I'm worried that by the time this team gets healthy, it will be too late. I realize that it could be worse. We could be Cowboys or Chargers fans right now. Nothing I have to say about this team today will be constructive or insightful...so I won't say anything.

I didn't bother to download the game this week (can you blame me?), so I'll leave you all with Phil B's breakdown of the game, because he gets paid for it. The next two games will be on TV here, and three weeks from now I should have DirecTV back.

We are interested in your opinions about the game day chat as well. It was cool to see so many people participate (thanks to Mike Tanier of FO for stopping by), but it was unwieldy and hard to read after the fact. So here's the question:
What is more interesting to you:
  • limited live commentary by Demond and Deshawn using the new service with comments from readers posted in the normal comments slot
  • an open free for all chat where anyone can join in
  • something in between...

My guess is that one is more fun at the moment, and the other more useful the next day, but we'd love your input. Feel free to comment or drop us a line at 18to88@gmail.com

Here's this week's DVOA for those who are interested.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trying Not to Overract

There are a few things I can safely say about yesterday's game:

1. Tim Jennings is terrible. We've been pounding this theme for over a year now. He has had some nice plays, and good games (last week), but most of the time he's been bad. Anyone that doesn't buy that didn't see yesterday's game. Kelvin Hayden's injury may prove as devastating to the Colts as any we've seen, including Freeney and Sanders. I don't say that because Hayden is at that level, but because there's no way to hide a cornerback.

2. I realize that it was windy, but we said several times last week that we didn't think the offense was 'back'. I think that's been proven. There are still a lot of players out, and the whole unit just isn't right.

3. I continuously defend the coaching staff, and frequently feel that fans blame coaches for things that are out of their control. That being said, Dungy and company failed miserably yesterday. The Colts clearly weren't ready to play yesterday from go, and the '4th and 1' exchange of Dungy not going for it and McCarthy doing so altered the game irrevocably. I'd call it a trap game, except at 3-2 the Colts weren't good enough to fall into traps. They did so anyway. I have a feeling this team has a tendency to think of itself as better than it really is, so expect more games where they just fall asleep at the wheel.

4. This is a very average team. There may be reasons for that based on injuries, but at some point that ceases to be a factor that can be considered. Apparently, this is the kind of team that can blow out average teams, and can be blown out by average teams.

It's going to be grind all season long. There are going to be more weeks like this one.

Links:
Don Banks surveys the damage

PK says Dallas Clark is a nice guy

Scouts Inc says it was the penalties


FO spends a lot of time on the officials and talking about what a weird game this was

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flagged.


Packers 34 - Colts 14

Packers Game Blog

We are trying a new live blogging client. No need to refresh, and comments will be posted live. Your comments may take a moment to show up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sleep in our Eyes

Man, there's nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning and plunging into the world of NFL stat sheets. Anyway, the result of our diligence is this week's Eyes in the Backfield. Enjoy such eye opening nuggets as:

Looking back on last week's Eyes, it's astounding how much Peyton Manning and Dwight Freeney can cover up. The Colts defense was essentially flawless, and Manning played one his best games ever. It helped us to shut our eyes to the fact that the Horse still couldn't run the ball, and the line was spotty at best. 18to88 and a sunny day at the Luke made us feel like all was right in the world. Indy has now won three of four, and is seriously threatening to make a run in the AFC. To do so though, they'll have to brave the snow and ice of Lambeau field. Or maybe not. This week, keep an eye on...

1. Watch for rhythm. Having a big week is one thing, but putting together impressive wins is something else. The Colts are entering a tough stretch filled with the biggest games on their schedule. A strong game on both sides of the ball tomorrow will mean the Colts head into Tennessee having won 4 of 5 games and playing good football. If the offense can't consistently move the ball or generate the big plays that marked last weeks win, all the good feeling from the Texans and Ravens game will be gone in the depression of a three game deficit in the South.

2. We say it every week, but watch the line. You'll know the Colts offense is back when you see the offensive line allow Peyton to stay in the pocket and when it opens holes for the run game. That didn't happen last week, as Peyton made up for a lot of mistakes by the guys blocking for him. The coaching staff apparently feels more comfortable with Charlie Johnson at left tackle than with Tony Ugoh. That's fine, but he'll have to prove he deserves to stay on the field for reasons other than having a big heart. The Packers line has trouble applying pressure to the quarterback, so if the Colts can't stop them, they'll be in big trouble come next week at Tennessee.

For more, just click here

Links:
Great work by Shake. He looks at the fumble rate of Freeney and Mathis. Amazing. These numbers will shock you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Notes From last Sunday

No full 18 Plays this week, but now that I've put a deposit on a rental here in Argentina, I'm hopefully just a couple of weeks away from having real internet and TV again. Here's a few notes from our aborted attempt:
  • As good as Mathis was, Freeney was equally amazing. He was a factor from the go, forcing the pick. On several of the turnovers Freeney was in the backfield wreaking havoc. Jennings made a better play tipping the first pick than he did on the ball he actually caught.
  • Freeney and Mathis had several sweet crossing stunts where they looped around and ended up coming from the opposite directions from which they started. This lead to a sweet sack by Mathis to end a Ravens drive in the second quarter.
  • The Marvin TD was classic, right down to the play fake. I half expected to see Edge stone somebody.
  • Bullitt was a force on special teams. AV's kicks had me wanting to check his Wheaties for HGH. He had a cannon working on Sunday.
  • Bethea's pick was the result of a young QB who didn't look off the safety, and great discipline by Bethea not to bite on a pump.
  • CJ was generally bad. He almost ruined Dom's 38 yard run. Ugoh had better get himself figured out, becuase CJ is not a left tackle, running or passing.
  • The long pass to Wayne down to the 1 was as silky as any you'll ever see. Reggie only glances at the last second and barely raises his hands at all as the ball just lightly drops right into his palms. No one but Manning can make that throw. I've never seen it from anyone else.
  • The few passes the Ravens hit for any yardage at all were all against Tim Jennings, who made a couple of nice plays and big hits, but is still not the answer in coverage.
  • The defense was really hitting even into the fourth quarter. Jennings and Jackson both had big hits from the corner slot on the last Ravens drive. That kind of passion was inspiring.
My other thoughts were confirmed. The offense still isn't right, so if you see regression this week, don' t freak out. The big plays were there, but the consistent long unstoppable drives weren't. The line was still poor, and there were lots of missed assignments, but Peyton erased them by being amazing. Confidence is an amazing thing, and his seems to have ramped up.

Links: Phil Richards' piece on 88 is a good read

On this day he really was a Jaddai Master

SI breaks down the Packers/Colts

Simmons is bitter the Colts are back:
Thanks again to the Vikings and Texans -- they could have chopped Indy's head off Jason Voorhees-style, but instead, they just whacked the Colts with a machete a few times, walked away, turned their back and waited for them to get up. Now the Colts are 3-2 and rounding into January form. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be excited because Tom Brady's reconstructive knee surgeries went well. Damn it all. I might break the record for "Most NBA Games Watched In One Month" in November.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shake the Rumor Monger

Our favorite participant (sorry JC) Shake writes:

Apparently (according to Luke Paul Chandler for NES) Quinn Pitcock's facebook page says he's flying into Indy. The Colts also haven't filled the spot they had cleared on the roster for McCargo. I'm not adding those two together anytime soon, but I'm definitely intrigued. I'll keep my eyes out for anything actually reputable about it.

Shake

Ok, So we are grasping at straws now, but who cares? He probably just has pals in Indy. Still...
He also writes to say that McCargo practiced today in Buffalo. Weird.

Links: Gary Horton breaks down the Colts v Packers this week.

Clayton lists this weeks game as #2 on his list

Phil B talks to Joe about the discrepancies in his injury report

Don Banks likes the Colts D to keep getting better

Out of Touch - A MMTTB Report

MMTTB comes home to roost this week as the Colts prepare to meet our intrepid heroes in close combat this Sunday. That makes today a perfect time to examine where the Pack stands on the season. A close inspection of the single most important stat in the NFL shows the Packers to be...
3-3.

Utterly, completely average. They win some; they lose some. Aaron Rodgers has played some good football and some ugly football. Tompson and McCarthy have constructed a team that is sort of like Top 40 radio. For every catchy ditty, there's a lot of annoying crap. They have become the Hall and Oates of the NFL. They are still popular in some circles, but they've had a lot Pack fans begging, "Say It Isn't So". They tried to obtain Tony Gonzalez, but Chiefs GM Carl Peterson, "I Can't Do That. No Can Do" at the last moment. They tried hard; they came up short. Average. Their IQ this week stands at a pedestrian 100. They look better than they did last week, but they still aren't on anyone's list to kiss. Unless something good happens fast for them, there'll be no Jingle Bell Rock come this December in Titletown.


Links: It's a Steelers thing, but I agree. How can the NFL fine Hines ward 10K for unnecessary roughness without explaining the violation? That's insane. He wasn't flagged during the game, and has asked for an explination, without being granted one by the league. He shouldn't pay that fine until he gets a clear answer from the league. That sounds like a grievance waiting to happen.

Big Sexy is back on board with the Horse

Mike Tanier's Walkthrough is pretty funny, except for the part where he thinks the Vikes beat the Colts in week 2. The best part is this conversation he imagines between Polian and a certain DT:

Bill Polian: Your name, son?

John McCargo: John McCargo.

Polian: Anthony McFarland, got it.

McCargo: No, it's McCargo.

Polian: Booger McCargo. Welcome to the team!

McCargo: I think you have me confused with someone else.

Polian: You are a disappointing former first-round draft choice that we acquired in midseason to prop up a run defense that never seems capable of getting off the field, right?

McCargo: Something like that.

Polian: We don't make mistakes like that here in Indy, son. Now try on this jersey.

McCargo: Why does it say "Simon" on the back?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Or Not

McCargo has just combusted. Spontaneously. In a bizarre turn of events, ESPN is reporting that a herniated disc has voided yesterday's trade for John McCargo. Yes, the Colts have managed to lose another DT before he ever joined the team. The injury, of which the Colts were unaware, was revealed during a physical today. McCargo will rejoin the Bills and the Colts retain their fourth round draft pick.

Here's hoping LaJaun Ramsey is still available. For the record, the Colts roster lists its current defensive tackles as: Raheem Brock (DE or DT), Keyunta Dawson, Eric Foster, Daniel Muir, and Darrell Reid.

(Insert DZ joke about how we need to enlist Mulder and Scully to find out what supernatural force is offing the Indy DTs).

Here's a much more detailed version of the sordid story by Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star.

This just in...

Joe Addai is likely out for this week. Kelvin Hayden is probably coming back this season.

This information is courtesy of Phil B Wilson
, who is johnny on the spot. I'd usually just make this a link instead of a separate post, but it's pretty news. It's great about Hayden, but I'd feel a lot better about Sunday if Addai was going to be playing. His totals have been weak, but his play has been great. He's had zero running room this season, but always seems to makes something out of nothing. He'll be missed. At least we don't have to run KSquared out there again.

Update: Now they are saying Joe Addai is out up to a month. Lovely.

Links:
Great piece by Cold Hard Football Facts showing that you throw to win
.

You never want to have to back your coach 6 games in if you are an AD.

SI ranks the Luke 6th over all. The survey is crap. The J-Hole finished 5th overall and first in accessibility. No freaking way. It's at least a 25 minute walk from any of the parking to that giant bowl. People were on crack when they filled out those surveys.

Peyton says the knee is a non-issue, and is as tired of talking about it as we are of hearing about it.

Prisco thinks the Colts will still win the South

Something Big is Coming...

But not yet. We'll get to that later. For now, some links:

The Colts picked up Dawson and Simpson, IRing Hart. Tough break for the kid, who looked to have some playing time ahead of him. Here's a full list of all the transactions.

MDS of FO does an EPC on #18. That is to say, Michael David Smith looks at every play by Peyton. He loved Peyton's game, but lays serious hate on both the O-line and Marvin. Make of it what you will.

Dr. Z has the opposite opinion of #88 in his power rankings this week

ESPN the Ragazine says hold on to the Jaddai Master and Peyton

Scramble for the Ball compares players to video game characters. I can't believe they beat us to it.

Peyton is the AFC Player of the Week
. Um, yeah. It's the 17th time he's won it. Wow. That's more than a full season's worth. You can basically count on Manning winning this at least one week a season EVERY season. Amazing.

In a piece about the Chiefs not trading Tony Gonzalez, J Whit makes an interesting point about signing marquee players to 'one contract too many' using 18 and 88 as an example.

They don't stream it anymore (thanks a lot Floria), but the Polian corner is still around. This week it's with Chris Polian as Bill is away at league meetings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Colts Trade for Bills DT John McCargo




What is it about the Indianapolis Colts and troubled Defensive Tackles? ESPN reports that Indy has traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for former first round pick (2006) John McCargo. The North Carolina State standout has fallen out of favor in Buffalo after registering 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2007.

The Buffalo News offers greater insight into McCargo's situation. The Bills were in good shape at DT and could afford to shed some dead weight. This sounds like the case of a guy losing motivation after his initial big payday in the NFL. We've seen this before, but hopefully a new environment will help turn things around for this kid.

DZ Comments: What? We didn't trade for a running back?! I'm shocked! Scouts Inc, you lead me astray! This is welcome news. As long as the pick wasn't too high, I don't think anyone will complain about this deal. A fifth, and we can live with it. A third? It's a fleece. He should really be careful. Playing DT for the Colts is about like the job once held by this guy:

Let's hope "Spontaneous human combustion" doesn't get added to the list of: congenital career ending illness, car accident, blown knee, sudden retirement, and pot related shenanigans. The space between Mathis, Freeney and Gary Brackett is the Bermuda Triangle of the NFL.

It looks like a fourth. Blah. Seems high to me for a guy who doesn't seem to want to play. The upside is: the Colts don't make this move if they weren't 100% convinced they can win it all. I take comfort from that.

Links:

The Colts make a huge leap in DVOA. Most interesting is that their schedule is the 26th toughest from here on out.

Cold Hard Football Facts' comment on Manning is priceless

Here and There...

Does anyone know who's good around here anymore? With the NFC East getting beat down by the likes of St. Louis, Arizona, and Cleveland, it's anybody's guess where the power lies in the NFL. All of a sudden the AFC South looks a LOT tougher (3-0 on Sunday), with three of the four teams back to .500 and better, with the Titans the last remaining undefeated team. This season is weird because it doesn't feel like playing on the road in the playoffs would be that scary. Whoever comes out of the AFC East won't be elite, and other than Pittsburgh is there a road destination in the AFC that scares you in January?

I'll be watching the tape today and preparing for 18 Plays (in whatever form it takes), in the meantime, here's some links:

Kuharsky breaks down Manning

Phil B repeated the Ugoh rumors in his chat this week. Everyone says Charlie Johnson played really well this week; I'll judge for myself shortly. It's going to take more than one good game to convince me that he's the answer. Ugoh's play on the field has been solid, but if he doesn't strap it up every week, what good does it do us?

Chris Carter says we can't run, and Shannon Sharpe wants to change his answer, I'm betting.

Big Blue Shoe and I agree to disagree


Scouts Inc is totally nuts. In a list of possible trades, they want Indy to give up a 4th round pick for Justin Fargas. What? If Addai had blown out his knee, maybe. But to give up a 4th round pick for what would be a third string running back for a team that can barely run the ball as it is seems insane. If the Colts were to deal (which they won't becuase that's not how things work in the NFL), it would be for a DT. That may take the cake for stupidest article since a Scouts Inc guy said the Colts were taking a huge risk by cutting Corey Simon.

Doug Farrar of FO looks at 'true value' by rushing title leaders. Hit the 'view image' button to see the graphic. Edge came out as having the two best seasons of any rushing leader in the last 10 years.

Gregg Easterbrook talks a lot with some football related...never mind, I'm bored just writing this.

Don Banks can't figure out who's good any more than I can

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stuff people are saying...

that isn't true:
1. The Colts defense benefited from playing ahead yesterday. The D forced a turnover on the first possession, and played with a fury and intensity that hadn't been seen all season. Don't minimize the effort they played with by saying, "Well, they had a big lead". Even when the game was close, they were overwhelming the Ravens.

2. The Colts offense was in sync yesterday. Again, not really. The truth is that they hit a couple of the deep balls which have been there all season, but always seemed to end badly for weird reasons. The defense handed them the ball five times, and honestly, the O should have converted even more of those. Honestly, 31 points felt like underachieving. I'm not trying to be negative, but when the Colts are really on, they put up 50 on days where the D forces 5 turnovers and a handful of first downs.

3. The Colts ran the ball effectively. No. They didn't. Dom had one big run, which was amazing, but the overall production from the run game (admittedly hurt by injuries to Addai and Hart), simply wasn't acceptable. I get that Baltimore has a great run defense, and that's fine. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that yesterday was a run offense that we can live with.

I don't say those things to be negative, but merely to point out that it wasn't all wine and roses yesterday. This team still can improve on offense, and must if it hopes to finish over .500 in the key stretch of 5 games. If this team can finish the first ten games at 6-4 or better, they'll be set. The schedule eases up dramatically in the back half.

I also find it amazing that for all the whining about the Colts defense, they are 8th overall in scoring defense, while it's the offense that is a middling 16th. When this offensive line is finally healthy and playing consistent, smart football, this team might well be unstoppable. If Manning has time, he'll hit the deep passes, which will open up the run game. Then we'll really see something special.

Links:
PK is a clown. Now he has the Colts at 4 on this Fine Fifteen. Way to be a front runner there, Pete.

The Colts 'acknowledge' a second procedure on Manning's knee. So what? The original story that 'broke' the procedure implied Manning would miss significant time and that the injury was more severe than anyone let on. That's been patently ridiculous. Manning may or may not have been out of sync in the first few weeks, but he was moving fine. The original story was alarmist and wrong. But we've covered that before.

Dom talks to ESPN. His comments about coming back in 20 years to celebrate with these guys were awesome.

Ross Tucker gives the Colts an A and says they look a lot better.


Peyton and Reggie show up big time in Quick Reads


Prisco gives the boys a well deserved A

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brushing off the haters

Quick takes on what I saw today at the building formerly known as the LOSer Dome:

1.) Marvin is Marvin. We've been saying it all season (and desperately hoping we weren't wrong). It only took a 67 yard torching of Chris McAlister to emphatically announce this fact to the world. Reggie may now be the Colts top receiver, but Marvin is still damn good. He was cracking me up by doing the international sign for brushing off the haters after both his scores. I couldn't find a picture of it, but I was glad for him.

2.) Peyton and Marvin are still not on the same page. Maybe this is an oversimplification, I don't know. They don't look right. Peyton missed Marvin on yet another deep bomb that looked like an easy score. This could just be caused by a mid-play adjustment that one of them expected the other to make. He also threw oddly behind Marvin on their second touchdown connection. They will get this fixed. This offense can be magic if they can get just a hint of a running game going to set up play-action.

3.) The Colts Special Teams are on fire. Everyone has noticed, but we were all too depressed until now to really care. They are fast. They shed blockers. They tackle. In other words they are everything they weren't last season. Oh and Adam Vinatieri must have roided up before the game because, damn, he was launching it.

4.) Reggie's touchdown that wasn't might have sunk my fantasy team. What? Nobody cares? Well, at least Tony Dungy does. He was livid.

5.) I think Tony was also mad about the 11 penalties on his team for 84 yards. Several of which were legitimate.

6.) Who played better today: Guys like Melvin Bullitt, Clint Sessions, and Tim Jennings. Super-subs.

7.) It's amazing how sure-tackling and quarterback pressure can make your defense look great.

8.) No turnovers on offense. Five on defense.

9.) The D nicely sniffed out a couple draws and unique running plays. That was satisfying. I guess playing the Bears, Vikings, and Jags did teach them something.

10.) Mike Hart's tough first down run didn't look like Colts football. I liked it. Hope he's okay.

Links:
Prisco liked what he saw, and thinks the rest of the AFC is sweating.

Kuharsky thinks this was a big statement

Banks liked what he saw from #18


Here's some people talking. Warning: Many of them are doing so out of their ass.



Watch CBS Videos Online


I think Mort is just making stuff up at this point.



Jeff Chadia thinks the Horse is back

Horsewhipped


Ravens Game Day Blog

Sort of. My reasons for hating Brighthouse Cable continue to multiply as I'm still limited to the audio version the game on channel 2. I did find a good site that hosts torrent files of the games, so I'll download it tonight. That being said, I'm not sure what good it does me to blog this bad boy out, but I'll try to pass on what I glean from Lamey and company. Demond will call in from time to time with his observations as well.

It sounds like most of the team is going to play today, apart from Hayden and Ugoh, so that's a plus. A win today, and the Colts will have run off 3 of 4 and are headed in the right direction. A loss...let's not go there.

Quarter One:
The defense forces the turnover, but now the offense is threatening to stall out early. A third and 9 leads to sack out of field goal range. Just awful. This line is just not competent.

The offense has another 3rd and long, as the run game has generated only 15 yards on 8 carries. The Colts play it smart on fourth and 1 and AV nails the 37 yarder for a 17 point lead.

The defense holds Flacco and company again, and the Colts should come away with solid field position, but a moronic penalty on the return moves them way back to the other 20. Any residual benefit from the early pick is now officially wasted.

HELLL YEAH!!!! 18to88! Marvin goes 68 yards! Demond calls to say he had McAllister burnt by 5 yards! He's obviously washed up.

Big hit by Bullitt on special teams followed by a sack by Brock. THERE'S BLOOD IN THE WATER, BOYS! TAKE THEM DOWN! FUMBLE is covered by Baltimore. Now's the time to follow this up with a score and put your foot squarely on their throats. Yeah, my frustrations are making me violent. Sorry. My football team has struggled, and my wife is 2 months pregnant and constantly sick. It tends to make one edgy.

With Joe Addai in the locker room for unknown reasons, the Colts go on a nice little drive. Mike Hart takes the third down carry, breaks tackles and picks up the 3rd down! Nice job, little man. The Colts are showing a commitment to the run early, but the results have been very mixed. Lamey says the line is playing better and giving Manning time.
TOUCH DOWN REGGIE WAYNE ON 3rd and LONG! BOOOOOOMM!!! LAY DOWN THE HAMMER! 10 plays in 4:53. That's bang for the buck.

AV whams another huge kick, and Melvin Bullitt is having himself a DAY. A pick, and two huge special teams hits early. MCLAIN FUMBLES, AND THE HORSE HAS IT! Wow. Freddy picks it up, fumbles it, and gets it back again. Brock has another huge play. The Colts are playing with the kind of verve they've been missing all year.

The run game is stalled big time (15 yards on 8 carries). The Colts play it smart and take the points on 4th and 1 from the 19. Putting the Ravens 3 scores down is smart football.

AV is CRUSHING kickoffs. On the last play of the first quarter, the Ravens almost pick up their first first down, but are still half a yard short. This couldn't have gone any better. It's time to play a complete game, and put fear back in the heart of the AFC who was just starting to feel good about themselves.

Quarter Two:
Flacco just barely picks up the first down on the keeper. As bad as the Colts run game has been, the Ravens have been worse with just 10 yards on 7 carries. Flacco picks up a third and 9, however by hitting the TE. The Ravens have a little drive working, but Flacco will have to hit some passes for this team to score today. Sessions makes a big play on first down to hit McClain for a loss. The Ravens are going no huddle, and trying to run the little draws that have killed the Colts, but are getting NOTHING. Third and long is must stop time. MATHIS with the sack as Freeney is causing havoc in the backfield. Merrill Hodge is checking the help wanted ads right now.

You have to think that somewhere Bill Simmons is sick to his stomach, as it looks like the Colts might have figured things out.

No sooner do we have a Mike Hart sighting with not one, but two big plays, but he gets hurt. Lamey thinks it looks badish. Now Lamey says, he seemed to be walking better. This drive goes nowhere, as the Colts play it fairly conservatively after a penalty. This is one of those 'a punt is a good play' drives. When you are up 17 points, you don't mind punts. What you do mind is stupid penalties that lead to rekicks. Hunter hits two punts off the side of his foot, but a penalty on the Ravens helps out.

Geeze, my internet resets, and I miss a pick by Bethea! Wow. A holding penalty on first down threatens to waste another turnover by the D, however. Marvin and Peyton can't hook up on third down, and there's another punt. It's funny, but even at 17-0, it feels like the Colts should be up by 30. Great coverage and a super bounce on Smith's punt pins the Ravens deep. A safety would be sweet here. I imagine the Ravens will run three times and punt. Ok, two runs and a screen. The D holds nicely. This time the punt barely makes midfield, so they can still take advantage of the pick two drives ago.

This is a huge possession. The Colts get the ball to start the second half, so if they can engineer a drive here, they can get two straight trips with the ball up 17 points. That's a good formula. DOM BUSTS ONE! ALL THE WAY TO THE 12. "What a humiliating run for Baltimore!" is the call on the radio. Three runs take the clock all the way down to minutes, and all but guarantee points for the Colts. Two runs and a field goal are more than ok with me right now. Dom runs it again down inside the five. Baltimore's timeout shows that they mean to try and get points before the half.

EIGHTEENTOEIGHTYEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Suck it, Merrill.

AV picks up his third touch back. The other two? Bullitt nails a guy inside the 20. That's sick. I think Tony got through to these guys. This is a team that looked into the abyss last week, and now plays like they want to win it all. Wow. Mathis picks up a huge sack/fumble, but the Ravens cover it. Now the Colts take a timeout before 3rd and long. THEY WANT MORE. No wonder they hate us in Baltimore. The D forces the punt, and the O gets one more chance. A 57 yard punt that goes out of bounds? Geeze. Run and go into the locker room.

Just a question, but does anyone know who the karmic opposite of Amy Winehouse would be?

HALF TIME:
Well that went well. #18 posts a 137.3 QB rating, and the Horse is rolling. Let's get home with no more injuries (you know, other than two of our running backs, d'oh!), and we'll all go home happy. One more TD by the offense to start the third quarter, and it'll be Sorgi time.

Quarter Three:
The Colts go on a big drive, helped by a couple of nice catches by Clark, and Reggie Wayne being completely sick. First and goal, Colts at the one. If they punch this in, I'm done for the day. I'll catch you all after the game. And no. There is no way I post a picture before this one is officially over. If the reverse jinx works, I suppose the regular jinx might too.

Dom walks in the for the score. I think #18 is done for the day, and so, my friends, am I.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Seeing Clearly

Hey, it's Saturday so that means Eyes in the Backfield is ready. Did you like how I just tacitly admitted that Eyes comes out on Saturday now? We didn't really plan it that way, but it always happens that we are a day late on it, so why not just admit it. Eyes is a Saturday feature. My favorite stat of the week concerns Joe Addai and catching passes out of the backfield. It's a part of the offense that has completely gone away becuase of the protection problems...look for it later in the article. Anyway, here's a taste of what's to come:

Last week's Eyes was pretty amazing, right down to the prediction that it would take Jack Bauer-like heroics to win. I'd say what Jackson, Brock and Freeney did to Sage Rosenfels qualifies as torture. The Ravens are coming off two losses just as painful as the Colts win was glorious. It's a bellwether game for teams as the winner has to feel good about where they are, and the loser will be left searching for answers. This be sure to keep your eye on:

1. Watch his back. Charlie Johnson is expected to start over Tony Ugoh again, leaving Peyton Manning's blind side virtually unprotected. If Manning doesn't have time to throw, the Ravens will pin down the run game and play everything short. The result could be disaster for Indy.

2. Watch for cushion. Tim Jennings is starting over a seriously injured Kelvin Hayden, and he loves to play off the wideouts and gives up a lot of easy slant passes. If he doesn't buckle it down, Joe Flacco and Derrick Mason could just play toss all afternoon.

For more Eyes...click here

I also want to comment on one of the worst uses of logic I've seen recently. I've seen this argument in several places, but I'll use Mike Floria's of PFT as my baseline. Some are saying the reason the Colts and Seahawks are struggling is because their coaches are on the way out, with replacements already named. Floria claims:
Though Dungy hasn’t said he won’t return in 2009, the players surely are wondering — and that year-to-year accountability that helps keep players focused and motivated and driven has necessarily been undermined.

There is one big problem with that line of thinking: because the replacement is in house and watching the players every day...the 'year-to-year accountability' that Floria claims is missing...is PRESENT. How can you argue that players aren't held accountable if they know that one way or another the next head coach is right there with them? You could argue that this set up would be divisive (no one is arguing that). You could argue that it's distracting (no one is). But you simply can't say that the players aren't 'accountable'. That logic is nonsense.

The Colts are struggling because they have played 6 rookies on the offensive line and TE spots. Most teams that do that will struggle. Period.

Friday, October 10, 2008

18 Plays...mostly

The 18 Plays podcast is not dead...but it is in a coma. We sat down to record it on Wednesday night, and were depressed to discover that the slow internet connection I have here has made it impossible. It's really too bad, because this would have been a seriously fun game to talk about. There's nothing we can do about it until I get a house and real internet, so for now we are going to have to just do write-ups of the 18 Plays. Enjoy the first installment, such as it is.

Links:
Merrill Hodge looks at the tape and finds two things wrong with the Colts, and one surprised me. He says Freeney doesn't look right and isn't making as many game changing plays. Freeney is making at least one or two HUGE plays a game, but I think his lack of consistent impact has as much to do with the kind of plays teams are running as it does his health. The Colts O isn't scoring enough to put real pressure on teams to throw. When it does, you'll see Freeney make even more plays. Hodge's stat on mental errors by the O-line is right on and at the heart of what's wrong with the Colts.

Dr Z gets one question right and the other...he just got lazy. He crushes the Manning v Manning debate, but then totally misunderstands the context of the Bill Polian quote. He seems to think Polian wants fewer holding calls. The article made it clear that he wants MORE holding calls. Read the original piece Z, then comment.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What the crap is going on around here? - A MMTTB Report

Packer fans have to be in shock. Just a few months ago, they had a home game in overtime with a Super Bowl on the line. Then their Hall of Fame QB retired, unretired, and was subsequently traded for a future conditional draft pick. Now five games into the season, the backup has developed a sore shoulder and the Pack has now lost 3 straight games, the last of which was to the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field. How can this possibly be? Who could have wreaked such havoc on a franchise that is one of the pillars of the NFL?

No one but our favorite GM/Coach combo: Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson! While Brett Favre spent his bye week sunning on the beach of his swamp down in Mississippi, Aaron Rodgers was busy playing hard, but lofting ducks with his lame right shoulder. The Pack has fallen below .500, and while that may not be all Rodgers fault (Paging Ryan Grant! Paging Ryan Grant!), the media dogs have to be licking their chops while the Packers fans are definitely forming a posse to string up their front office. Their IQ this week sinks to 50, begging the question: what exactly do those to have in their heads? I don't know, but it doesn't smell real great.


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It's not related to anything, but I thought Simmons did a really nice job with this piece.

The ESPN AFC South blog has two Colts tidbits. The part on fixing the Colts offense is largely gibberish. Manning is fine. You can see it. The offensive line is really awful right now. If there were any other QB back there, people would see it immediately, but Peyton makes those guys look way better than they are.

FO's Walkthrough likes the Colts this weekend, but Dr. Z does not. That's sort of like Demond and me right now.

How do you beat the Tampa 2? One guy says run. That's a great idea, unless Warren Sapp is playing tackle. We had a guy like that for about 5 minutes one time and won the Super Bowl.

Phil B says the news on Hayden is ominous and that Phil Wheeler might start this weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hold that thought...

Great work by Phil B today. Be sure and check out his look at Sunday's game tape, and then move on his article on the noticeable decrease in holding calls. This is the kind of work that might eventually lead to comment from the NFL. It's going to take enough people noticing it and asking to put pressure on them to answer.

I've finally almost finished obtaining my copy of Sunday's game, and should have a new Wednesday feature up late this afternoon (NOTE: Never mind). Demond and I will record 18 Plays tonight.

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Harrison is sued. The article is pretty hilarious. First of all, it omits the fact that the 'victim' is a felon (10 years for homicide). Secondly, it omits the fact that he was already charged with making false statements to the cops about this incident. What it does do is include this hilarious quote:

"Look, it's our position that Marvin Harrison was the shooter," said Dixon's attorney, Robert M. Gamburg, according to the Daily News. "But even if you believe the other theory, Marvin's gun was still used in the shooting, so he was negligent for leaving the weapon where someone else could obtain it."

So the dude's attorney says, "Yeah, Marvin shot him, but even if he didn't we still want money" That sounds like a real bang up case you got there, Mr. Lawyer-man. Have fun with that. Apparently the suit itself says that it is possible that someone else shot Dixon with Harrison's gun. High comedy. The 'victim' apparently doesn't know who shot him.

The case is only for $100,000, which seems really low to me. If there was anything to this, I'd think Marvin would have GLADLY settled it for that much or more.

Dr Z. moves us up a few spots

Shake nails it. He just did the leg work comparing Eli to Peyton counting seasons 2-5 of their careers. Um, Peyton's better. And no, it's not close.

Gary Brackett was named the AFC Defensive Player of the week. The Colts suck for having him at middle linebacker. Listening to sports radio can make you stupid.

Ross Tucker's quote about Jags fans is priceless:
"...people are going to comment on the Jags having arguably the worst fans in the NFL, and I will not dispute that in the slightest. People in Jacksonville would probably be more excited to watch an SEC clash between Kentucky and Vanderbilt"
Told you so.

Reader Steve sent this article written by his wife Amy. It describes their experience of being Colts fans in enemy territory and then staying until the end on Sunday. Good on them for hanging in there.

Phil B says that Hayden is out this weekend. It's Tim Jennings' world, the rest of us are just living in it, 10 yards away. He also echoes some of the things we've said here today on other topics.

Stampedeblue has a brilliant interview with ex-Colt Tony Mandarich. Ok, I say this with zero sarcasm: I honestly thought we already knew he was on steroids back in the MSU days. Seriously, when I heard he had 'come clean', I was like, "really? Didn't we know that?". He was a solid player with the Horse for three years. I'm glad he turned his life around in time to help the Horse, but more glad he turned his life around for himself and his family.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thin Blue Line

The Bill Polian show yielded some interesting tidbits last night. I've become deeply worried about the status of Tony Ugoh. He was healthy on Sunday, but the coaches decided to go with Charlie Johnson. Now, I admit that I have yet to see the tape, and have no idea how CJ played on Sunday. I also admit that he has shown the ability to run block from the left tackle position. There were rumors last year that the coaches weren't happy with Ugoh's inability to stay on the field, though he seemed to play well when he was out there. The fact that they went with CJ, who has been a massive liability in pass protection over Ugoh, is disturbing. I hope the reason is because Ugoh didn't get the practice time last week that CJ did (which is what Polian said). If the Colts plan on going with CJ at left tackle for the rest of the year, I don't think the line will ever improve. He's not an NFL caliber left tackle. He's proven that over the past 12 months. If Ugoh is wimping out, and the coaches are tired of it, that could be a major blow to this team.

Polian also suggested that part of the problem with the offensive rhythm is that Manning is having to slow everything up to make sure the protection is correct. There are so many new players and rookies playing, that the team can't go with a pure no huddle hurry up. This will hopefully improve with time.

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Easterbrook makes the same mistake others made when comparing Manning to Brady. Only this time it's Manning to Manning. Comparing Peyton's first five years to Eli or Brady's or ANY OTHER QB WHO DIDN'T START WEEK ONE is simply not fair. Sure, if you take Peyton's 13 losses and 27 picks on an awful team and average those in with his first five years, his numbers are comparable to some guys who didn't start right away. If someday you want to compare Peyton to Joe Flacco, Matty Ice, or even very appropriately Ben Rothlesberger in the first five seasons, then fine. Otherwise, use years 2-6. It's a better comparison set. Look, I love Eli because Peyton loves Eli, but if you are going to do comparisons then make them apples to apples.

PK tries his hand at analysis. He could have just said, "yeah, the O-line is a mess". That would have done it.

The Colts/Texans game will be replayed on NFL network tonight at 8.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ten Things

1.) I haven't listened to sports talk radio for the last month. I got back on the horse today. During my absence radio has apparently timewarped back to 2002. Callers on 1260 were openly bashing Bill Polian for not using high draft picks on defense. Really? Are we really back to those days? Someone (JMV) needs to remind these fools that they lost one DT to an apparent mental illness and another DT to weed. You can't plan for those things. The current strategy has won you a Super Bowl and a hell of a lot of football games. Now we are going to question it because the team is 2-2? Ridiculous. Another caller ripped the team because Gary Brackett is the starting middle linebacker. You, sir, are a clown.

2.) The play with 7:00 to go when Manning hit Wayne over the middle for 11 yards as Manning was going down was spectacular. It isn't a play that will get mentioned much, but it was classic.

3.) I love when Manning scrambles. He only does it in the most dire situations which makes it all the better.

4.) Tom Santi's catch was made in the tightest coverage imaginable. Draped all over him doesn't begin to describe it.

5.) This team hasn't found its identity on either side of the ball. The best thing that can be said is that the Special teams coveage looks ten times better so far this season. I guess it should also be pointed out that the team has mounted impressive comebacks in three consecutive games.

6.) The past month would be much harder to swallow if Tom Brady was still around. He's not.

7.) Can you please crush Baltimore next Sunday? Beat the living hell out of them.

8.) Marvin clearly showed he can still catch tough balls in traffic, but people are writing off Marvin's big play ability. I hear he's lost anywhere from a half-step to a step and a half. However you go about measuring such a thing, I'm not buying it yet. Marvin was in position for a deep score twice yesterday. I still think it is coming and when it does it will be a "holy crap that was sweet" moment.

9.) The Colts are in second place in the South.

10.) And much better off than the Chargers.

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Quick Reads loved the Wayne catch

The old Lefty gets a shot at the Hall. Head for home, Joe. I voted for you.

Ray Ratto praises Cubs fans for not really caring that much