Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I'm so excited about a 6 point win

We predicted a slaughter, and got a dogfight. Why am I so happy? First off, if we had known Bob Sanders would be inactive, we would never have expected the defense to shut down Houston. This team is radically different when he plays. More important than the margin of victory was the reappearance of all phases of the offense. Here's what I noticed:

1. Hey! It's the run game! It was great to see Addai SLAM ahead in the fourth quarter for a big first down conversion. As the game went along, he looked shifty and fast. If this team starts running effectively, it will be hard to beat (see 2006, postseason; don't see 2005, 2007).

2. Harrison did what I wanted to see (my exact quote was: Harrison may be getting open deep, but he's not getting open short). Kravitz complained that all Marvin's completions were short. GOOD! Look, deep balls are freaky. They can result from perfect throws or blown coverage. It's the slants and hooks for first downs that move the chains. THOSE were the plays where Marvin hadn't shown any separation all season. It was those same throws that Manning kept having picked in weeks two and three. These were the routes that Nick Harper(!) was batting down. When corners get sick of giving up first downs to 88, that's when they bite on double moves and big gains follow. Marvin needs a few more games like this convince everyone that he really is ok, but this was a start.

3. Dwight Freeney seems to make all his sacks big ones. He has long been one of the most 'clutch' players on the Colts D (he was the only one to show up for Black Sunday against Pittsburgh). He had two sacks yesterday and both were big.

4. Melvin Bullitt has four picks. That's second in the NFL. He's had three 'game enders'. That sounds impressive, and it's a nice stat for him. It's not that big a deal really. Those are good plays, but none of his picks have been particularly tough plays. He struggled yesterday.

5. Clint Session has improved dramatically from early in the year.

6. Ugoh struggled on the one bizarre drive to end the first half, but Williams had no sacks of Manning. Penalties are bad. Sacks are worse. Given the run and pass offense yesterday, I don't think you can score that matchup as any worse than a wash. Ugoh hasn't always been pretty, but this line is better with him. I say it every week, because it's obvious.

7. Peyton was brilliant again yesterday. Ever since the two back to back games in the wind against great pass defenses, Manning has been unstoppable. His completion percentage is down this year thanks to lots of throw aways from pressure and an ungodly number of drops. His cumulative stats continue to improve each week, and while a couple of the efficiency stats may be lower this year, he'll still throw for 4,000 yards and 28-30 scores. He needs a huge game against SD to get the MVP train chugging at full speed.

8. Sunday night's game is massive. A win, and the Colts are sitting at a very solid 7-4 looking at a spate of winnable games. A loss, and they are right back where they've been...scratching and clawing each week. In fact, a win and they are right back on track for an 11 (or 12) win season. This season may yet be about the improvement of the Titans (re: VY got benched) more than the decline of the Colts. Really the only 'bad' loss the Colts have was the debacle against the Jags, where the officials blew several obvious calls and turned a blow out into a loss. The Chargers MUST have this game Sunday. It's going to be tough. Everyone pray for Bob's knee this week!

9. The Jags are done! The Jags are done! After the game Jack Del Rio repented of his harsh treatment of the team. He ordered the locker room repainted with pastels, and bought all his players muffin baskets. He then demoted MJD to the practice squad for 'giving him a dirty look'. What a clown.

Peter King puts Manning at #2 in the MVP watch, but then says he thinks the Colts would be 3-7 without him? Really? Which 3 do you think they win? I'm thinking 1-9 would be generous.

Demond Sanders: After Warner's middling 1 touchdown, 1 pick effort against Seattle it is fair to say the MVP race is on like Donkey Kong. Someone is going to win their record-tying third MVP. Warner is the sexy pick right now because he's leading an exciting young team. He also has the comeback story working for him. Manning can overcome that, but it will be difficult. Lots of wins and touchdowns are in order.

Dallas Clark talks to ESPN

Manning plummets in Quick Reads...all the way to number two for the week. He had been on top the previous two weeks in a row.


Adam said...

The problem with putting Manning over Warner for MVP is that Warner is winning in Arizona. Sure, the other 3 teams in his division have won a combined 5 games, but still, it's Arizona. Also, people EXPECT the Colts to win 12 games. If they don't, it's a problem.

Still, no player has been more crucial to his team's success than Peyton Manning.

Demond Sanders said...

Absolutely. Warner has a big advantage because of the media. They like simple to understand storylines. No one ever wins in Arizona is simple.

The good news is their schedule gets much tougher. They still have two division gimme games, but they do have to play NYG, Philly, Minn, and New England. If the Cards go 3-3 down the stretch the story won't be nearly as sexy.

JC said...

1-9 huh?

Not if Hoodie was your coach.

Demond Sanders said...

Sorgi would have been an outright disaster this year.

1-9 or 2-8 feels right. They are barely winning games WITH Manning.

Deshawn Zombie said...

Matt Cassel > Jim Sorgi X 10

Bob M. said...

I don't want to rain on anybody's parade--Manning should have had the shared 2003 MVP alone and Sean Alexander's (career-ending 2005 MVP award) as well. He was screwed, let it be. This year, I almost hope he DOESN'T get it!

Don't get me wrong, I'd love him to have all the hardware possible on his mantel, but flashing back 20-30 years, in the days when a NY-area Colts fan did not have ESPN or the Internet, I recall salivating over the newspaper box scores as my only access to how the Colts did the day before. And even when they lost, how excited I'd be if they had a 300 yard passer or 100 yard rusher each week, or a couple sacks or picks. The feeling was "at least we gave them a black eye." LAME!

Add to that ingrained perception that "clinging to stats is a loser's solace" the fact that when Manning had statistically mundane years for him 05/06/07 the team actually did better and I'll take a runner-up in the MVP race every time if it gives us a more balanced team with an O that gobbles time in the slo-no-huddle and a competent D. That's the team that can win in the post-season.

We now look like some of those teams that win any way they need to, which feels right to me. The adversity, hopefully, helped. Health would be nice too... but you can't have everything.

I am really looking forward to Week 17. If Tenn is 15-0, the smart thing (I respect Fisher as a coach, so I think he'll be smart) is probably to rest a couple star players like Collins, Fat Albert, and especially their rookie RB. Problem is, without those three, we win. We might even be able to do it with them in--we were pretty close last time. We keep our guys in and keep them sharp and on their game for the WC round, while Tenn might suffer what we did a couple times if they rest their guys.

Balt is better than they were when we played them (or we just match up freakishly well). The AFC W does not worry me. The AFC E... could be interesting. But we beat Pitt, Balt, and NE. Assuming we could beat them again (big IF), facing Tenn a third time would be super interesting.

A true Manning Bowl? I'll say no more about that until January.

Demond Sanders said...

This may be picky, but Manning was far from "statistically mundane" in 05/06/07. He put up Hall of Fame numbers in each of those years. 90 touchdowns against 33 interceptions.

Bob M. said...

Sorry. Mundane for him might be more accurate, or better yet, mundane compared to unrealistic expectations established by 04. Clearly he was not bad, but after 03 and 04, many people expected that 35+ TDs and a 110 rating would be the norm.

Think about a neutral voter from Dallas... He expects Manning to throw for 4,500 yards, 67%, 40/10 TDs/INTs and a 110 rating. When he falls below those marks, the voter thinks, "oh, it's an off year for PM, who else should I vote for...?" Maybe I underestimate the analysis most voters put into it... then again, in light of 2003 and 2005, maybe not.

I'd be much happier with the astronomical passing numbers tempered somewhat and more TDs and yards on the ground (in general--of course this is all situation specific).

Add in the Colts' struggles (injuries or not) and the unexpected success in the desert for Warner (or Brees, whose team many voters may still think of as the homeless Aints) and Peyton would have to shit gold to win, I fear. He may... and Warner may once again turn into a fumble-prone turnover machine the next time his thumb gets bumped. A lot of football left to go.

What about Brees for MVP? He seemed pretty likely last time I looked a couple weeks ago. Haynesworth? I understand but dislike the QB-centricity of the award--I'd be okay voting for Haynesworth. Without him, Tenn might be only one game ahead of the Colts. Or tied?

Adam said...

Brees should be getting serious consideration.

My problem with Albert Haynesworth is thus: before he stomped on Andre Gurode's head in 2005, had anyone ever heard of him? Before last season, was he anything other than a lazy malcontent? He's playing for a contract, and consequently he's playing out of his mind. Next season, he'll get paid and resort to his natural lazy malcontent status.

As for anyone that says that Belichick would have done better with the Colts than Dungy did, I'd like to remind them that Cassel has Wes Welker, Randy Moss, and the easiest schedule in the league.

On the upside, it proves that Tom Brady is a system QB, and wouldn't necessarily be as good anywhere else.

chipbennett said...

Maybe a dumb question, by why is no one mentioning Kerry Collins for MVP? He is the primary difference between the 07 Titans and the 08 Titans (who just happen to be the lone remaining undefeated team in the league).

For that matter, why not Brett Favre?

I would put Manning with those two at the top of the list - *far* above anyone else - with respect to MVP.

I don't care about stats. These three men are driving their teams' success, bar none.

Anonymous said...

05 and 06 were about great years for RBs statistically. It wasn't that people looked at 18 and didn't see big enough numbers. The voters looked at the huge TD numbers and voted for the RBs.

18 has been the MVP every year since 2003. Not based on the way writers vote, but they don't understand crap about the game.