Welcome to Devil's Take for the Colts Bye Week. Normally, you would see this after the game for the week, but we are on our bye week. Due to all the injuries, updates, and other things that have gone on, I felt it was a good time to throw one of these up.
Wow, reading this site the past 48 hours is almost like a graphic horror novel mixed with some high school drama. Between all the random posts about who's injured, who's not injured, who's spreading false information, I'm just glad that finally we have answers on most of the issues.
So let's start with this for the week. The Colts are still the best team in our division. The Colts are still one of the top teams in all of football. I know, most of you are thinking I'm crazy. Our loved/hated head writer thinks our chances of winning the SB is zero.
I'm on record now as saying this season is done for the Colts without Dallas Clark. Indy has zero shot to make the Super Bowl, let alone win it, without him. - BigBlueShoe
I use this quote because I want to illustrate a very valid point. Even as a die-hard fan, there is always a point where you can feel like it is in fact, over. Remember when the Colts scored 21 points against the defending champion Bucs in less than 5 minutes to force OT? Yeah, I was so pissed that I turned off the game with 6 minutes to go. Only a yell from my brother made me turn it back on. The same goes for the Colts being down 21-3 in the 2006 AFC title game, where they would lead the largest title game comeback in the history of the NFL. I'd wager several of you turned off the game, contemplated leaving the game, or just said it's over.
The bottom line is that while the injuries have hurt us, it doesn't mean we can't battle back. Our schedule is difficult, but I actually think this year's schedule is easier than last years. We may not win the Super Bowl, and believe me, I want us too, but the Colts will not quit. Not as long as Manning is our QB.
Remember people, the sky is not falling. It might be raining, but the sun can always still come back out..
Just a quick reminder....the Jets made the AFC Championship game last year after going 9-7 in the regular season. Yes, they needed some breaks, but hey, it can happen to anyone.... They had injuries, a rookie QB, and no WR's worth a piss.....
The injuries keep coming:
- Dallas Clark: Out for the season with a wrist injury that requires surgery
- Austin Collie: Hand surgery - out for 2-6 weeks
- Brandon King: Out for the season with a serious hamstring injury
- Joseph Addai: Nerve injury to shoulder - could be ready for Houston, possibly out 2-3 weeks
- Antonio Johnson: Surgery on knee - status unknown - out several weeks at least
Of course, you can also add to that list the guys who are already significant contributors who are already injured or out like: Melvin Bullitt (IR), Bob Sanders (surgery, return Week 11?), Kavell Conner (return Week 10?), Anthony Gonzalez (returning for the Houston game), Jacob Lacey (returning for the Houston game) and finally Donald Brown (returning for the Houston game). I know I've probably missed a couple guys, but these are the most significant players I could remember.
For those of you who are supporters of guys like Sanders and Gonzalez, the rest of the season is going to be decided by the way these guys can contribute. If they can't return from their injuries and perform, then the Colts will struggle. It won't mean we will lose, but it could determine whether we win big or squeak by on a fluke play (4th and 2 anybody?).
- The Colts have drafted for depth in many of the recent drafts due to their positioning in the draft. Many of us have ridiculed some of these choices when other areas of need were not being addressed. It looks like this actually may come back to help us somewhat in the area regarding the TE position. Both Jacob Tamme and Brody Eldridge were capable of making big time plays in college, and that means the Colts will look to add them to the long line of "gems" that Manning has made great.
- The Colts have re-signed Gijon "Honey" Robinson at the TE position. This is more or less an extra body move for the position to bolster depth. I would expect him to most likely fill in on ST's while Tamme is moved to Offense.
- The Colts have claimed Andre Brown of waivers. This was a good pickup by the Colts if the kid can be healthy. He's got great size (6'0, 224lbs) and he could be really great in short yardage downs as he can look to punish the guys tackling him, similar to Ryan Torain of the Redskins. Optimistic yes, but I doubt the Colts would have picked this guy up if he couldn't run the ball.
- The Colts shit-canned Kenneth Moore after his putrid return game and 2 fumbles against Washington. We all speculated that the guy was crap after his mediocre returns against Kansas City, but we gave him a pass based on him being new and the KC ST's is one of the league's best. Not so the second time around...
- The Colts worked out 2 DT's over this past week prior to our knowledge of Mookie's surgery. Both guys are fairly new to the league and have decent size. How they would work out at this time is yet unknown.
- Pat McAfee - Suspended for the game against Houston, the Colts will most likely use Adam Vinatieri to punt for the game. While I think they may in fact sign a punter for the game using Clark's now available roster slot, I hope that we aren't put in too many bad positions if we don't.
As I'm reading this while putting this article together, I realize how much has gone on in just the past week. I can see why several people would be worried that this is the "SB Loser Curse" or that the "season is over". Personally, I see a different view, I see a chance for the Colts to really punish the league for doubting them.
Our schedule for the remainder of the season is actually not that bad. Of the remaining games we have left on our schedule, we play only 4 teams with a winning record (Pats, Texans, Titans, Eagles). That's 5 games against teams at or below .500. Now, it doesn't mean we will beat those teams. What it does mean is that the Colts can catch some breaks against teams who are struggling. The Chargers, Bengals, and Cowboys were all expected to compete for playoff spots, but right now they are a combined 5-11. The Colts face teams who will be possibly overlooking the Colts due to the injuries, as often teams did when Harrison went down.
The Colts bye week could not have occurred at a better time than now. The new rule implemented by the league regarding hard/illegal hits was mandated to be in effect while the Colts are on the bye week. They'll have time to get our guys ready to play to the new rule while watching how it affects other teams. This also means it's something that may play to the Colts advantage with how Manning throws the balls. While Manning almost always puts his receivers in good position to receive the ball, there's been many a questionable hits on our receivers after they caught it.
The bye week also works out great for Jacob Tamme, Brody Eldridge, and Anthony Gonzalez. These guys will almost assuredly be getting a large overdose of reps from Manning in practice. Eldridge has looked great in practice and on the field. Keep in mind he made a great play down field and if not for a perfectly timed hit by a Jacksonville defender, he catches a long TD pass from Manning. Tamme has not been asked to step up in the Colts offense, due to being buried behind a list of other TE's. That however, should not make you second guess the kid. When Clark was out in 2009, the Colts attacked one of the most vicious defenses in the league with a relative unknown TE in Tom Santi. He went on a tear before getting hurt and fumbling a TD opportunity. The "next man up" way of doing things in a Colts uniform has worked for us in the past. It can still work for us now.
The Colts running game in the last 2 weeks has churned out a whopping 270 yards rushing, compared to the previous 4 games of only 300 yards. The offensive line has started to improve quite well behind the addition of DeVan back into the lineup as well as tough sledding by Mike Hart. This is still too early to say they are better, but it's still a good sign. Even with the injury to Addai, we still have two guys who can make you miss and take it to the house. If the line continues to block like they did against Washington, Brown could be taking runs to the house....
There's a lot of reasons to be down about the Colts right now, but I think the most important thing you need to remember is that as long as the Colts have #18 as their QB, this team will be tough to beat. Despite all of our injuries, problems, lack of this or that, the Colts have managed to lose more than 4 games in a season 3 times in Manning's career (1998, 2000, and 2001). That's insane. To be fair, he had a lot of help. He still does have a lot of help. In the past 3 years alone, he's taken unproven guys (Gonzo, Collie, Garcon) and made them look like All-Pro wideouts. He's taken the league's worst rushing offense (last year) to the SB and lost it in the final minutes. He's kept the Colts offense near the top in most categories despite injuries and at times, subpar play from his line. He's been of the league's least sacked players despite all of this...
Yes, it means Manning will have to carry us more. Yes, the defense will have to step it up a notch. Yes, Manning may have some ugly games. Despite ALL of that, it will only be that much better when the Colts win a game. They can't point at Manning and go, "he's a choke artist". Oh, I'm sure they'll try when he loses another game by throwing an interception, or when the Colts defense fails against a good team. However, as long as he's slinging the ball, we are in EVERY game.
I realize the rest of the season will be difficult, but I still believe this team is one that should be watched out for, not overlooked. This season may have started off really rocky, but it took some injuries and a really bad game by the defense in 2006 to push this team to stand back up and fight. Maybe fate has a way of smiling upon us once more...