We used the recap to focus a bit more on the positives because, well, there were a lot of good things that happened in Indy's 19-9 win over previously unbeaten Kansas City. Here, we discuss the flaws, and while there were fewer of those than the positives, the flaws were quite glaring.
He was awful yesterday, but, as bad as his play was, the line protection calls made to assist him were even worse. Towards the end of the third quarter, I caught myself screaming at the television, hoping Colts offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen would magically hear my insane banter through his headset. The screams went something like this:
F*cking assign f*cking Hart to f*cking chip Hali already, you f*cking clueless f*cking dirtbag!
For some odd reason Christensen and offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars thought it was a good idea to have stiff old Ryan Diem block Tamba Hali, KC's best pass rusher, one-on-one. The results were near disastrous.
All game long, Peyton Manning was running for his life from Hali. The apex of the Diem v. Hali debacle was early in the third quarter with the Colts driving into Chiefs territory. On 2nd and 10 from the 29 yard line, Diem whiffed on a block, and Hali slammed into Peyton Manning's blindside, causing a fumble. This was one of several blindside hits we've seen Manning take this year mainly because this offensive line is the worst he's ever had to play with.
The Chiefs looked as if they were targeting him yesterday, and it got embarrassing for the sixth year pro. Hayden's frustration boiled over into a dumb, and I mean DUMB, 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Chris Chambers after a 13-yard gain on 1st and 10 from the KC 39. The penalty happened with less than 18 seconds left in the first half, and it put the Chiefs in Colts territory, where they eventually would convert on a 45-yard Ryan Succop FG.
All game long, Hayden struggled. He even managed to get hurt late in the 4th quarter.
Throughout this early season, the Colts pass defense has looked shaky, at best. If not for the inept play of Dwayne Bowe (who dropped an easy touchdown in the third quarter), the Colts probably would have lost this game, and the blame would fall, once again, at the feet of Hayden and the Colts secondary.
If you want to look at one play that seems like a microcosm of the Colts secondary in 2010, look no further than 4th and 12 after the two-minute warning late in the game. Matt Cassel drops back, gets pressured a bit, but is able to complete a 21-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe for a first down. Again, 4th and 12, and the Colts can't stop them from getting first down.
The Running Game
While Mike Hart was the hero in the second half, the Colts running game continues to under-perform. Believe it or not, Merril Hoge of ESPN did a good job of illustrating the inconsistency of the Colts running game this morning on Sports Center. KC's gameplan was nearly the same as the NY Giants in Week Two. They had a base nickel defense using a soft coverage shell.
In essence, they dared the Colts to run.
If the Colts had anything remotely resembling the offensive lines we've seen in year's past, they'd have run for over 200 yards and averaged 6 yards a carry. They'd have converted their two early trips into the redzone in touchdowns, and their game would have been a laughter by the start of quarter three.
31 attempts, 97 yards, 3.1 a carry. Again, this is against a defense DARING YOU TO RUN!
Contrast this to the Colts, whose entire defense was keyed to stopping the run Sunday. While they had several impressive stands in the second half, Indy still allowed 113 yards on 27 carries, for 4.1 a carry.
All game long, TV announcer Dan Dierdorf made it a point to highlight how often Colts runners had to dodge defenders in the backfield. Again, KC wasn't blitzing. They used a base nickel defense. A 'soft' defense. Despite this, KC d-linemen lived in the backfield. This was because players like Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, and Ryan Diem have a hard time doing this thing we call 'blocking.'
Again, I'm not writing all this to bash the team, or 'be negative.' These were just flaws I saw in yesterday's game, and have seen consistently in previous games. If the Colts are to win a Super Bowl (again, Super Bowl of Bust for this team in 2010), they must correct these issues.