So after the first quarter of the season has passed, the Colts are standing at 2-2. We are 0-2 in the division, and dead last in the divisional standings. Not exactly where this team is used to being at this point in the year. Is this a sign of things to come? Or is this merely a blip on the radar? Is the media, and fans especially, reacting too quickly?
For the last decade, virtually every Super Bowl loser has failed to qualify for the playoffs the following season. Only 2 teams have managed to avoid that fate (2006 Seahawks, 2009 Cardinals). The Rams only managed to make the playoffs because the rest of their conference was absolutely abysmal. To add to this, even 3 SB champions have failed to return to the playoffs the following year (2002 Patriots, 2003 Bucs, 2006/2009 Steelers). Is this year's detour to start the season a continuation of that so-called curse? I don't think so.
I don't buy any of it. The Colts are a team that should be 3-1 right now. Their 2 losses came against teams who have gone like a ridiculous combined 7-30 against the Colts. They got beat by those teams ON the road. Let's face it, for the last 4-5 years, both the Texans and Jaguars have played ridiculous at home, being gamers most of the game only to lose on something flukey (see Sage Rosenroflcopter). It's not a coincidence that over the last 6 seasons, the Colts losses have primarily been to the Jags, Titans, and Patriots.
This season is far from lost. The crazy talk about it's time to panic is a joke. In fact, what it is time for is the Colts to get angry. We saw this happen late in 2006, when they went on a tear in the playoffs. Look, the Colts have had what amounts to two bad games. Yes, the defense looked awful. Yes, the offensive line has been mediocre. Is the sky falling? Absolutely NOT!
- While the Colts schedule is not pretty compared to some teams, the fact remains that our division is still wide open. While we've started 0-2 in the division, we still have 4 games remaining against them. Add in the fact that the Colts are still relatively healthy, we can regroup as we did in 2008.
- The Colts have been down early in the season before (3-4 in 2008 before ripping off 9 wins). Look, we don't need to be pretty, we don't need to win big. We just need to get stops and win. This team can do that. We have a schedule coming up against teams that could potentially have us at 4-2 before our bye week.
- Our problems on defense are fixable. It's not a personnel issue. It's an assignment issue. Guys are missing their assignments. The coaching needs to improve, and our guys need to be held accountable on it.
- The offensive line has looked MUCH improved since the Week 1 debacle. Is it where it needs to be? Not yet, but with our guys looking healthy once again, it's getting there. Add-in the recent addition of DeVan back to the line, I thought the line was opening up a lot of holes on the left side against the Jags.
The loss of Melvin Bullitt to me is huge, but not back breaking. As BBS often reminds us, he's pretty much been the Colts starting SS for the last 2 1/2 years. So, counting on Sanders (who we all want on the field when healthy) was never something the Colts have done. Toss in the loss of Jamie Silva in the preseason, and it presents the Colts with a depleted safety core.
However, there isn't need for a knee-jerk reaction here. The Colts are still okay. Look, the problems on defense aren't near as bad as we've dealt with in the past. In fact, despite opinions to the contrary, this is still one of the better overall manned defenses the Colts have had in the Manning era. The defense, outside of the usual season ending injury at SS (no pun intended) is pretty much the same defense that took the field last year in the SB.
- The injury to Bullitt is a bit of an irony. In 2007, an unheralded practice squad player got called up to fill in for an injured Sanders. He played quite well. That was of course Melvin Bullitt. The Colts managed to make the playoffs despite key injuries on both defense and offense. The following year, he would be critical in having 3 game clinching interceptions.
Jacob Lacey/Jerraud Powers were both drafted to be backup options for then starters Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson. Both wound up playing most of the season as starters, Powers eventually replacing Jackson as the starting CB. Both players were critical for the Colts defense, managing to come up with key interceptions and quality defense.
- In years past, at LB it was always the next man up. Marcus Washington, Mike Peterson, David Thornton, Cato June, Gary Brackett. All guys who weren't necessarily heralded coming out of college, but made HUGE contributions to the Colts defense over their time with us.
- 3 of our games came against teams who loaded up the run, put more men on the line than we did, and essentially forced us to leave our defensive backs in man coverage. This is not what our defense is built for. While several of our DB's have had bad plays, more of it can be attributed to piss poor coaching changes on defense. If you are not getting pressure, you need to quit trying to line up 6-7 defenders on the line blitzing against 8 linemen and leaving your guys 1 on 1. There's no second level coverage.
Daywalka, a member of our site, made this very interesting suggestion:
And I’m going to say it again: MOVE KELVIN HAYDEN TO STRONG SAFETY AND START LACEY/TRYON IN HIS PLACE! Kelvin is big enough and physical enough to play either safety spot. He can cover the TE or slot receivers. PLEASE DO IT! I PROMISE YOU WON’T REGRET IT!!
That's quite an idea, as Hayden has the speed/range and size to play the position. Tryon and Lacey both are capable of playing good coverage. Adding in a more experienced player such as Hayden at safety would allow our other raw players to get some time without being severely abused by opposing QB's.
The point? The Colts have some very good new players in King and Morgan. Both are fully capable of playing the safety position. Add-in that the Colts will most certainly pick up another body at the SS position, the Colts should be able to make do for the season. You guys aren't even giving the guys a chance to prove their worth. Remember how well Garcon/Collie did filling in for Gonzo? The pundits all thought the Colts would fall apart. Look at how great Blair White and Collie have done this season without Gonzo/Garcon! You can't give up now!
You also cannot count out a team like this. Look at the 2005 Steelers. They were 7-5 after getting beat by the Colts. Guess who won the SB that year? Guess who beat us in the playoffs? I mean dear lord, look at the Chargers the last 3 seasons, practically starting each season at sub .500 for most of the early season. Our team is more than capable of this. Look at the way the Colts fought in 2007 and 2008 despite injuries to key guys. The Colts, at least the offense, will never say die until the final horn.
Saw this Fanshot by thebossbuzzi about Ty Law still considering playing this year. To me, this is almost a no-brainer for the Colts. He's a proven talent, albeit declining. He may not fit our mold, but he's good enough to balance that out. He can help teach our very, very young players a lot about the game. Bring him on board, and allow Lacey or Powers to shift... or play 3 CBs and 1 Safety...
Bob Sanders - torn bicep (out indefinitely) return most likely the last 4 weeks of the season
Melvin Bullitt - broken bone in shoulder - out for season
Kavell Conner - broken foot - out 6-8 weeks
Ramon Humber - Injury Reserve - broken hand
Jaime Silva - Injury Reserve - torn ACL
Tyjuan Hagler - re-signed - Special Team's ace/backup LB
Blair White - signed from practice squad - WR
Devin Moore - Injury Reserve - Nerve injury to shoulder/neck/back ***UPDATED***
Aaron Francisco - re-signed - Safety ***UPDATED***
Colts are currently 1-2 in the AFC, 1-0 against the NFC.
#1 in TD to INT ratio
#1 in passing TD
#1 in QB Rating
#2 in passing percentage
#2 in total yards
#2 scoring offense
#2 passing offense
#3 total offense
Both Wayne and Collie are #1 and #3 in total receiving yards.
Collie leads the NFL with 5 TD's for WR's.
Insert comedic joke
Records set, tied, or broken thus far this season:
Manning/Saturday - most consecutive starts by a QB/Center in the NFL
Manning/Wayne - tied Unitas/Berry for 2nd all time TD combo in Colts history
Manning/Wayne - tied for 5th overall TD combo in NFL history
Manning/Clark - moved into 2nd place overall QB/TE TD combo (1 more ties the all-time record)
Manning - moved into 3rd place all-time yards list
Manning - first time in his career he threw 3 TD's and 0 INT's in 3 straight games
Ultimately, this hasn't been the worst start to a season, that being in 2008. This team can rebound, and I expect it will with Darth Manning at the helm. We've managed to show improvement with our offensive line since guys got healthy. We're getting back Garcon, who can stretch the defense. The running game is starting to show serious signs of life. We can get back in the high speed lane at full throttle.
Final note: Colts coaching staff, particularly Jim Caldwell, excuse time is over. This team is a perennial Super Bowl contender. You need to quit making bad judgment calls. I'd rather see the team go for it on 4th and 10 in their own side of the field then punt. I'm willing to lose a game with Manning having the ball, then punting away on 4th and 1. And if I ever see you call a bonehead time out like that again, you can kiss your job good bye!