Photo (cropped): Getty
By the way, ESPN's Tom Jackson can now officially shut his fat pie hole. Other than Bill Simmons (who I will get to later), I have not seen a more blatant homer cover sports in general as Jackson does. Jackson picked Indy over Denver during ESPN's pregame show. Then, when asked to pick who he thinks will have a good game, the moron picked Jay Cutler because "the Broncos will upset the Colts." The pregame crew ragged him a bit on this, because he was changing his simple little mind last minute, and in typical Tom Jackson stupidity he kept repeating, "Just you watch. Just you watch."
We watched, Tom. Cutler sucked. Denver sucked. And so do you.
I've never watched a more boring 38 point explosion. Usually when there are 38 points scored, there are big plays. Not so much here. The Colts scored 38 points in three quarters. They did it without big passing plays. Five times they went into the read zone resulted in 4 TDs and a FG. This was an offensive beat down, a slug fest with the Broncos' battered and broken carcass lying on the RCA Dome turf.
I'm officially calling Denver coach Mike Shanahan "Pumpkinhead" now, because the older Shanahan gets the more orange his face looks on TV. Hey, I'm allowed to make fun of how other people look. My QB has a forehead bigger than the Hoover Dam. Anyway, Shanahan just looks like a big, orange jack-o-lantern with white buck teeth poking through. Whenever they'd cut to him on the sideline, it would elicit a "Yikes!" from yours truly. The Pumpkinhead name also fits Shanahan's intelligence as well. Only someone whose brains are full of seeds and mush would design the kind of moronic schemes Shanahan did on Sunday.
Now, before I go into this, I want to make it clear Denver fans are awesome, in particular TheSportsGuru and the folks over at MHR. Denver's got a good tradition, and they have some nice pieces to build around. That said, Mike Shanahan is THE most over-rated coach in football, and he is absolutely terrible personnel manager. Shanahan would (and should) have been fired a looooooooong time ago if he didn't have naked pictures of the Broncos owner with a harem of hookers, or something. I've watched Mike Shanahan do every cockamamie scheme and trick one can think of to beat the Colts, and every time he walks away looking like an even bigger schmuck.
Denver completely altered their entire offensive and defensive packages in order to play the Colts. This meant that they lost the game before the ball was even teed off. The Broncos used a 3 TE formation on offense and a 4 DE alignment on defense. It was enough to throw the Colts for a loop in the first quarter. CBS announcers Jim Nance and Phil Simms marveled at Shanahan's brilliance. Anyone else who knew football saw this was a retarded idea, and that by quarter two the Colts would figure it out. Someone like John Clayton for instance.
The 3 TE alignment helped Denver rush for 160 yards in the first half. Morons who know nothing about football look at that and go "Wow, must have been a blowout." Nope. Denver trailed 14-13 at halftime. You see, if you use 3 TEs, that means that the opposing defense has absolutely no fear of you throwing the ball deep. It means that once you get into the red zone, it will get very difficult to score TDs, and you must score TDs in the red zone to beat Indy. What it also did was take Jay Cutler out of any rhythm. He was unsettled and shaky all game. Why?
Because Denver was running an offense with no WRs, that's why.
By the second half, the Colts had opened up a two score lead. Mike Shanahan was visibly sweeting on the sidelines because he knew he had to throw the ball. Jay Cutler drops back, throws a horrible slant pass (because again, he has established no rhythm), and it gets picked by Marlin Jackson. Frustration for Denver boils over. Players are throwing helmets, gloves, and yelling. Colts take the ball on Denver's 20 and score a TD. That was, essentially, the ball game.
Here's where I will bash Shanahan, because he violated a cardinal NFL rule, imho. If you can't beat a team with what you are, then don't bother showing up at all. Seriously, Denver was flat out SCARED to throw the ball Sunday, and for good reason. The Colts' pass rush and secondary are really, really good. Still, that shouldn't matter. If you can't get your team to execute, if you can't get them to focus on what you do and do it well, you suck as a coach. If you have to devise stupid, silly, elaborate schemes in a vain attempt to trick and fool the other team, in today's NFL you suck. Shanahan's offensive alignments were easily figured out by quarter two, and by the end of the third quarter the game was over. When a defense does not fear the deep ball, and when they know the other team is scared to throw, it makes their job all more more easy.
I've said all this and I haven't gotten to my favorite part: Denver's defensive scheme. Denver fired their defensive coordinator last year (who ran a Cover 2 scheme) and hired Jim Bates, an over-rated dinosaur in terms of NFL coordinators. Bates employs a 4-3 scheme that requires the two DTs to be big, fat, slow, and lumbering sacks of flesh. These massive behemoths must take on two or three interior blockers while the linebackers and DEs make plays. Bates made this scheme work wonders in Miami. Just one problem: That was over seven years ago.
In today's NFL, this kind of defensive scheme simply can't work. Why? No-huddle offenses. Teams like Cincy, Indy, Pittsburgh, and now New England will simply go no-huddle, requiring those big, fat, slow, and lumbering sacks of flesh at DT to actually run a little bit. So, what did Shanahan do to combat this stark reality?
He sat his run stuffers.
That's right. He didn't dress players like Sam Adams and Amon Gordon. They weren't hurt. They weren't sick. According to John Clayton:
Games like this are why Shanahan's "scheming" is nothing more than him coaching scared. Denver has many fine players. Cutler is a good up-and-coming QB. They have speed at the WR position. They have good TEs, and Travis Henry still owns the Colts. Why not just use them? Why not just line up and play? On defense... well, it's just not as good. Dre Bly can't tackle anyone, and Peyton Manning started picking on Champ Bailey when Shanahan put him on Dallas Clark. But starting 4 DEs in a Jim Bates defense? Are you nuts!
So, Shanahan' 3 TE offense fell short and his 4 DE defense was mauled. All that scheming, same old result. It makes you wonder that if Denver had just come in and done what it is that they do maybe, jut maybe, the score would have been closer. This should make you appreciate someone like Dungy. Scheming and exotic plans for specific opponents are dead giveaways that someone is scared. Dungy coaches his guys to do the little things right. This is football, not rocket science. Tackle, block, run, throw, kick. Simple game. Don't change who you are, don't be something you're not. Play your game, and play it well, and you will likely win. For some reason, Mike Shanahan hasn't grasped this in his 10-plus years of coaching. It served him well when some guy named Elway was his QB. Since that Elway guy departed, Shanahan has done jack squat.
All that said, you have to marvel at the job Peyton did executing the offense and adjusting to Denver's changes. He surgically cut them up, bashed them with run audibles, and was as efficient with the football as I've ever seen him. He's now thrown 8 TDs and 1 INT, and no one in the media gives a crap. Amazing, isn't it?
Once again, the Colts gut out a tough win, using power and speed. Special teams played great (they actually covered the returns), and I cannot say enough about Tony Ugoh. The kid is a road grader. The only negative out of the game were all the injuries. Rob Morris might be done for the year with a knee injury. Bob Sanders did not play in the second half because of sore ribs. Marvin and Addai got hurt as well. Still, despite these injuries, the Colts dominated the Broncos again. I often get bittersweet feelings after games like this because I know TheSportsGuru is pissed his team lost.
The Colts are 4-0 and continue their September dominance. They have yet to play a complete game, yet still manage to gut out tough wins. For some reason, no one seems to notice or care that the world champs are good. Of course, we all prefer it this way, don't we.