INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 14: The Indianapolis Colts are on offense during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 14 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
We've had a rough year. Let's be honest.
2010 has been rough for Colts fans.
Of course, I don't expect fans from other teams to understand just how tough this year has been. And I don't have enough time in my day to explain to them why a Super Bowl loss coupled with a somewhat mediocre draft tied to a miracle 6-3 start for the 2010 season is 'rough,' but it is.
Our franchise is one of the best in football this past decade. With that comes a increased set of expectations. Some call this attitude 'spoiled.' For me personally, when Indiana taxpayers pay an extra $75 million dollars for a retractable roof that never opens, the heightened expectation for 'winning' is always justified. We don't pay millions of our hard-earned dollars just to watch this team suck every Sunday. Maybe fans from other teams do. They might call us 'spoiled.'
If so, I call them 'suckers.'
Anyway, yeah. 2010 has been rough: The Colts have an NFL high 20 players on IR. Bob Sanders is still Glass Joe. Pierre Garcon can't catch a cold. The offensive line is stocked full of cast-offs and nobodys. Peyton Manning is fighting through a rough patch. Aaron Francisco is the last line of defense. We've had multiple player arrests for public intoxication. We've had our punter take a 5am dip in the Broad Ripple Canal. We've had Robert Mathis trash me on Twitter months after his people praised me for covering his off-season charity work. Colts blogs arguing with one another. Bill Polian verbally disrespecting his offensive line. Tony Ugoh cut. Philip Wheeler benched. Mike Pollak benched... again. Donald Brown averaging 3.3 yards a carry. No contract for Reggie Wayne. No contract for Robert Mathis. No contract for Peyton Manning. Possible lockout of the players for the 2011 season.
Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! MASS HYSTERIA!
But, do you know what will make a lot of things feel better? Make everything go away? What will help ease much of the misery and frustration many of us have had with this team and all the silliness that has surrounded it this year?
Beat the Patriots.
That's what will make things feel good again. This is my humble plea to the Colts players who will take the field Sunday afternoon: Beat the mutha f*cking Patriots in Foxboro, and it will go a long way to salvaging what has been a very 'meh' 2010 season.
This plea isn't so much directed at players like Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Adam Vinatieri, Antoine Bethea, and Dwight Freeney. These people bring it every week. It doesn't matter if it's the New England Patriots or the Toledo Mud Hens. Total dedication. Total effort. Total everything from those guys. They will bring it. Guaranteed.
This plea is more for players like Pierre Garcon, who has been ripped up and down all week long by writers like me. You've sucked in 2010, Pierre. Royally sucked. If the situation in Haiti has distracted you, I understand that on a human level. But this is the NFL, young man. Not. For. Long. You lead the league in drops, and you've lost the trust of arguably the best QB in league history. If a game like this one does not bring out the best in you, if after a week of people trashing you does not motivate you to perform, then you aren't worth a damn as a player. This plea is to you.
This is a plea to Donald Brown, who will likely start again with Joseph Addai and Mike Hart possibly out for the third game in a row. Donald, when the undrafted, less-talented little cousin of Edgerrin James looks better running the ball than you do, especially around the goal-line, I'd imagine that would be a wake-up call. One of the reasons fans smile when we hear the word 'Addai' is because Joseph always has a knack for coming up big in games against the Patriots. Now, it's your turn. This plea is to you.
This plea is to Kyle DeVan and Jeff Linkenbach. Both of you are nobodys. Rejects. Castoffs. The guys playing across from you along the Patriots d-line are first and second round picks. Just remember, the biggest play everyone remembers in Vince Wilfork's career was when an undrafted center named Jeff Saturday pancaked Wilfork's lard butt ten yards into the endzone on Joseph Addai's game-winning TD run in the AFC Championship for the 2006 season. This plea is to you.
This plea is to Brandon James. Special teams is almost always the difference between winning and losing in a Patriots v. Colts game. This plea is to you.
This plea is to Pat Angerer, who has played very well this season. Colts fans will always remember Melvin Bullitt's name for his 4th and two stop of Kevin Faulk last year. If he ever has to pay for a meal in Indianapolis again, I'll personally boycott that restaurant. Now, it's your turn to make a possible, memorable play for your team. Make that 'Bullitt Play' which forces us fans to remember you. This plea is to you.
This plea is to the defensive tackles, in particular Daniel Muir. You guys play great at home and like garbage on the road. Don't sell me the excuse that it's 'the turf.' I see what it is. It's effort. It's desire. It's focus. The Colts have no chance of winning this game if BenJarvus Green-Ellis goes out there and has the kind of game he had back in 2008 against the Colts. Shut him down. This plea is to you.
And finally, this plea is to Jim Caldwell. You do a good job getting your team prepared, Jim. Players seem to work hard for you. But, you are not Tony Dungy. You might not even be as good as Jim Mora. People are right to question your in-game decisions, and your 'adjustments' after halftime make many wonder why the Colts even bother having a 'head coach' on the sidelines considering that Peyton runs the offense and Larry Coyer runs the defense. However, should you go 2-0 against Bill Belichick, a lot of the murmuring you hear from media and fans possibly wanting you fired at season's end should die down. When a coach takes an injured team into Foxboro and beats a very talented Patriots team, people complaining about said coach tend to shut up. This plea is to you.
Take it to heart, Colts players. When Bill Polian says:
'And most importantly, this game will not decide anything. There’s a long way to go in this season. The winner in this game is not guaranteed to go to the Super Bowl. And the loser is not guaranteed to miss the playoffs. It’s one game. It’s interesting. It’s exciting. But it’s only one game with seven to go.'
This is, of course, a total load of B.S.
Patriots v. Colts is the biggest regular season game on the NFL's docket. It often gets better ratings than playoff games. The intensity. The hitting. The margin for error all match a playoff game's. Since 2005, the winner of this game has gone on to have homefield advantage in the AFC Championship Game four times. It is not simply one game in seven.
This is the biggest game of the entire regular season for this team, period.
My plea to you is that you simply go out there and play the best that you can, because if you can do that, you can most certainly beat the friggin Patriots.
Now go do it. Give us something to cheer for.