Monday, November 10, 2008


I'm still flying high from the win last night. I can't remember a game that I thought the Colts had less chance to win, only to see them pull it out. Honestly, it's probably been 10 years since they had a win quite like that one. Here are my observations about yesterday:

  • It was nice to get some breaks. There were tipped balls that fell just right yesterday, but the Colts have been on the wrong side fumble/everything else luck all year. The Colts didn't deserve to win this game because of the bounce of the ball? Fine. Give us back the Jacksonville game and we'll call it even.
  • The season is officially saved, because as Phil B pointed out, if you can go into Pittsburgh and win, you can win anywhere in the AFC. This team won't win the division, but you have to feel good about another 10 (11!) win season and a playoff berth.
  • This team played really well for the first time since Baltimore. We were all pessimistic last week because only one thing worked against the Pats (#18). Yesterday, the run game was useful. Bare in mind that the Steelers have the best defense in football. The numbers are going to be down against a team like that. The key is if there were useful plays. The Colts ran well on third and short. They had plays in the passing game, and if anything, it felt like they underachieved there. On Defense, there was pressure from Freeney, turnovers, and solid run stopping. When Hayden comes back, the pass D will get that much better. This was the first game this year that I doubt the 2006 or 2007 Colts would have fared dramatically better.
  • Tim Jennings. That pick he made was a legitmate NFL caliber play. This wasn't Joe Flacco airmailing a ball down 40. This was Ben Roethlisberger trying to pick up a first down to all but ice the game. Jennings was draped on the reciever and ripped the ball from his hands. We've begrudgingly admitted ever so slightly that Jennings has been improving. There is now no question about it. Mr. Jennings, I apologize. You've worked hard and can now be considered a viable NFL corner. As long as you don't pick up any more delay of game calls, I'm officially off your back.
  • Can we officially call off the dogs on Tony Dungy? This team has played one true 'stinker' this season. Since then, Dungy's boys have taken Tennessee to the fourth quarter tied, beaten NE and Pittsburgh. Whatever problems the Colts have had and continue to have are injury related, not coaching related. Three huge comeback wins (and should have been a fourth against Jville) aren't possible if a team quits. Dungy has his guys hanging on until the end. By the way, check out Kravitz's GREAT line under the coaching section of his report card. Calling the Jags "a dumpster fire" cracked me up. I can't believe I just said nice things about Tim Jennings and Bob Kravitz on the same day. That's what happens when you win in Pittsburgh for the first time in 40 years.
  • It was great to see the Colts throw to the running backs. Once that reappeared, the offense started to click. I truly believe that's a function of improved line play. There was also a lot more play action. This offense is very close to being 100%. Remember that I didn't say that after the Baltimore game. That was a lot more about hitting a few freaky big plays. The Colts offense is right when it can run and move effectively AND hit huge plays.
  • God bless Rutgers
  • The debate on Marvin is really starting to rage, and I understand his defenders. I know that on some of those balls, it looks like Peyton might be the one not hitting him. I'm not buying it. Marvin is a shadow of his former self. Manning has played absolutely great football in multiple games this year. Marvin hasn't. His catch rate is awful, and even when Peyton does find him, he drops the deep ball (more than once this year). I love Marvin Harrison. I'm obviously a HUGE fan. I think he's done. I want to be wrong about this. I wouldn't be surprised to see him rack up 100 yards this weekend. That won't change my mind. The old Marvin caught 65-70% of passes thrown his way. He caught short and deep balls. He was rock solid money all the time. I miss that Marvin. If he has three or four really good games from here to the end of the year, I'll back off saying he's done. At some point the numbers don't lie anymore. His are in the toliet.
  • The line has really rebounded. At first glance, I saw Ugoh get beat on a couple of plays (including a sack). Pollack got knocked back 5 yards to kill a run, but mostly Peyton had time to operate. Pittsburgh thrives on getting pressure. They couldn't yesterday. One of the sacks was on Manning for not unloading the ball. Pittsburgh had amazing coverage yesterday, but the line gave Manning time to find guys. Great job all around.
  • I'm not sure what to make of the play of the Gonzo. He is devestating in so many ways, but he has to cut out the drops. I know he got killed on that third down pass, but that's fourth big third down he's flat dropped this year. He's got to hang onto the ball.
  • My internet connection rules. At one point, I was watching the slingbox, chatting, and talking on a Vonage phone with no breakdown in service on any of them. All this to say: 18 Plays: The Podcast will be returning this week.


Peter King loooves to jump on the Colts bandwagon

FO audibles the game. Sounds like an Any Given Sunday is coming our way

Stat of the day: Through 9 games, Peyton Manning has faced 5 of the top 11 defenses in terms of defensive passer rating. In his last 7 games, he'll face 5 of the 10 worst defenses in terms of passer rating. My prediction: Manning throws for 35 TDs, posts an aggrate 110 rating for his last 7 games, and makes a serious run at MVP. Ironically, the health of the team will only be part of the reason for the revival. The schedule will just simply get easier. The Colts have only one bad weather game left (at Cleveland). The offense is about to get healthy real quick.

Vic Carucci says the Colts ground one out

USA Today says they did it with D

The Steelers blame themselves

Peyton tops Quick Reads (again)


Demond Sanders said...

That was one of the most satisfying wins of this era.

Jareb said...

I hate to see all the drops. Wayne dropped that first pass attempt from Peyton and then the rest of the receivers decided they needed to follow suit. I imagine Peyton is mad as heck when he watches film these days.

Much props to Eric Foster. If that guy could put on another 30 pounds he would be the best thing we've had at DT in a long time. Love him.

Did anyone else think that the only thing hurt on Marvin when he dropped that touchdown catch was his pride? When the slowed that play down it looked like the defenders knee barely clipped Marv's helmet. Sure didn't look like a concussion to me.

zac said...

Now a quality win in SD will complete the Indianapolis revenge tour and make us arguably the toughest team in the league. Locking up 2 of those three games is already a big statement.

Winning all three would put the league on notice again.

Demond Sanders said...

If he torches Houson this week, I'm on board. Peyton 2008. There is no MVP favorite this season.

It may be the odd year where the voters actually gets to ignore the stats, to a degree, and choose the player they think is worth the most wins to a team.

Westside Rob said...

My family was all over for the game so I didn't really feel like trying to chat and field their comments and questions at the same time but a few thoughts:

Drops: This seems to be a "disease" the Colts caught last year after Marvin went down and we haven't recovered yet. I'm starting to wonder if it isn't so much that Marvin is a step slow but that his desire to put his body on the line every play may not be where it use to be. I don't blame him for this and certainly respect his right to want to preserve his body.

Run Def: Can we please start shelving the whole "The main problem with the Colts is the lack of solid DTs" crap. This team's major problem this year has not been the DTs. Are they great...No..are they good...probably not...but are they servicable...yes. We should look to bolster this area in the draft but those who think getting one or 2 solid DTs will solve the problems on Def are mistaken.

Peyton: He played a great game. Probably his best of the year. His long ball accuracy still seems to be off a touch but other than that he was fantastic. He found a good run/pass balance on play calling this week which really helped in my opinion.

Secondary: Jenning's pick was a great play. Overall his play to that point had been pretty poor so unlike DZ I'm not ready to let him off the hook. I think when Hayden comes back Ratliff should remain as the other starter and Jennings should drop to #3. He may yet develop into a serviceable corner but he's not quite there yet. He was solid against the run this week.

Pass Rush: We got some heat on BR this week but I'm still not seeing the heat on the QB that I think we'll need to succeed in the Playoffs (assuming we make them which seems much more likely now). There was a Marcus Howard sighting which was good to see. He didn't get a sack but did have a nice burst that brought some heat on BR. That sack by Freeney on the sweeping stunt was great but too many of our sacks this year have come from that end around stunt, which seems to me more of a coverage sack than the DL creating pressure, but they were at least a little better this week.

Westside Rob said...

To DZ's point about easier defenses through the end of the season: Other than Tenn no one is better than 15, and are we really likely to see Tenn's best effort with them likely having the 1st seed locked up. I could definitely see the Colts offense getting on a tear through the end of the season. If they can stay healthy, get the O-line playing better and consistent (Ugoh was really horrible on about 8 plays last night but solid to great the rest of the game.) I think this team could run the table on the season but worst case loses 1 or 2 here on out. Our defense still might not be great but if we can start figuring out how to generate some pass rush and get Hayden healthy and more experience on the other CBs I think we'd have a shot in this year without a dominant team. I'm still rooting and hoping for the Manning Bowl!

Deshawn Zombie said...

My thought on Ugoh and the run game is the same: grade on a sliding scale. The Steelers are a great D. They make everyone look bad sometimes. For the most part, the O line did really well. The run game was effective, and against an average D, might have been downright good.

Good thoughts, Rob. For the record it wasn't just Jennings' pick that has me making up with him. He was solid in run support. He made several plays in the Ravens game as well as big pass break up against the Patriots. He's not great, but he hasn't been awful either. The big difference will be when we can get Bethea out of the slot where he is totally over matched (Not his fault, obviously).

I agree. I think this team has finally given me reason to think it might be better than average, if not really good come January. Three road wins in a road is a tough haul, but with only one 'dominant' team in the AFC (and a team none of us really fear at that!), this year sets up for WC run. Mostly, I'll just be happy if Peyton can limp this bad boy into the playoffs.

Westside Rob said...

Agreed on Jennings, Not Horrible but I'd feel better with him at Nickel than starting. I agree he's gotten better as the year has gone by but he was so bad early on he has a long way to go to be considered good.

I still can't figure out why we are so soft in the middle of the field vs. the pass. In theory that should be the strength of this defense with Brackett and Sanders but it hasn't looked that way the last 4 or 5 games.

I hope the "pundits" get the clue that the Colts aren't really that bad against the run now. We had a couple bad games the first few weeks vs. the run, but our problems on defense have been much more about defending short passes to the middle and sidelines than really defending the run.

Even with Bob playing back in coverage for most of the night Pitt wasn't getting much of anything on us with the run.

Westside Rob said...

That final TD pass to Dom was so sweet. That was a play that PM and Edge use to run to perfection. PM ran it with Addai some last year but never as effectively as he had with Edge. When it's done right and PM has a bit of time to throw it's hard if not impossible to defend.

The formation with Clark and a RB in the backfield with PM in the shotgun was great last night. (I think that was the formation they threw the TD to Dom from but I could be wrong). I don't think we ever failed to convert from that formation. It also helped out Ugoh a lot as the TE/RB was able to chip the outside rusher just enough to help Ugoh keep position. The plays where Ugoh broke down he had no help at all and from what I recall was beat by the outside speed rush. This is something I hope the Colts remember for the future.

Shake'n'bake said...

Part of the soft middle was Bethea really struggling to play the nickel spot. He was a big help there against the run, but he was slow and late on a lot of short middle stuff.

the -1 yard sack Ugoh had Dom to help on the outside, but Dom lunged and missed once the rusher got outside of Ugoh and Ugoh couldn't get back in front of the guy after. They can share that sack allowed.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why they're putting bethea in the nickel spot instead of bob. Bob excels in the middle of the field, Bethea is a center-fielder. Drop Bethea and Giordano back and leave Bob under. I'd even be satisfied with that on 1st and 10. Two safeties deep and Bob still there to stop the run.

Shake'n'bake said...

That reminds me of a play that shows why Giordano doesn't play more. The one where Mewelde carried him for about 5 yards.

But, yeah I agree that Bob would probably be a better choice as the nickelback with Bethea and Bullitt deep. If Hayden is back this week (Dungy is hopeful he'll practice Wednesday) it's a moot point.

Deshawn Zombie said...

The nickle back is an extra DB primarily used in coverage. The nickle comes in during obvious passing downs. You take a LB off the field, and cover the extra WR/TE with a DB. Bethea's strength is coverage; Bob's is run stopping. You don't often see a run when the nickle back is in. If you do, it's often a draw.

Putting Bob in with two safeties back on first down, essentially makes him a linebacker. He's too small for that role on a regular basis. He's most effective playing down in the box with Bethea back in the cover three on run downs. On passing downs, you put your three best cover guys on the WRs, and the safeties back deep. Bob is great, but coverage isn't his strongest suit.

Shake'n'bake said...

"Bob is great, but coverage isn't his strongest suit."

Only because he's so good in run support. He's a very good cover guy. He's not Polamalu or Ed Reed in coverage or Adrian Wilson against the run, but he's the best in the league because he's close on both ends.

Anonymous said...

One thing I don't like about how they use Bob is how they give him gap assignments when he comes down in the box. I know that's the system and everything, but he really needs to be a free-to-roam guy. He misses out on some easy tackles because he is sticking to his gap when he could easily slide over and help out. There has to be a way to have the front seven in gap control and leave Bob free to do what he pleases. A lot of teams see where he lines up and go the other way, and he has no choice but to contain his edge because that's what he's coached to do. It's a waste of the zombies talents, IMO.

Shake'n'bake said...

and the Niners secondary ends by run on top of the 18 to 88 league. 101 yards for Breaston in the first 20 minutes.

Shake'n'bake said...

Marlin Jackson is in commercials now too. video

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