Welcome to another fine edition of the Devil's Take. For those of you who are new to my posts, I generally do recaps of each week's game as well as the occasional post about things related to the Colts. So, if you do not like direct criticism from a fan, I suggest not reading further.
I've spent many weeks listening to the pundits, the morons, the trolls, and of course just about any of the so-called journalists on the various sports shows just bashing the Colts over the past 5-6 games. Everything from jumping off the bandwagon to blatant moronic ballwashing of other "favorite" teams, it's gotten quite retarded. I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about.
I know I've also seen it on here...and so without further warning.... I unleash the
The Colts are suffering the curse of the SB loser
This idiocy is so much further from the truth than just about anything I've heard. The Colts have faced the toughest overall season schedule they've seen in a few years. They've played 6 teams (7 games) against teams with a winning record. They've faced an additional 2 teams that have lost their starting QB's for the year. The Cowboys, who lost their starting QB, still have a quality starter in Kitna and probably the best overall offensive lineup of any team in the league.
The other major component of this has simply been injuries. Now, this part of the so called "curse" is somewhat true. Virtually every SB loser has come into the following season and seen a rash of crazy, unexplainable injuries. However, the Colts are not alone in this. League wide, injuries are up more this year than even say the last 2 years...
This is probably the 2nd most important factor as to why the Colts have been struggling much of this year. Injuries to quality players can do a lot to a team's chemistry and ability to lead on the field. Injuries can also deplete quality reserves/depth at positions that force you to carry players you normally would not. For many people, this lead to complaints about our #1 pick being a healthy scratch. Unless Hughes is going to line up at wideout or safety, I don't see much of a reason for the guy to be on the game roster.
Let's put this in perspective real quickly. 15 total players on IR with the potential of another 3-4 players possibly being placed on it in the coming days. (UPDATE: Austin Collie to IR) A few other players have been released under an injury settlement.
The Colts are missing starters at 6 total positions (Strong Safety, Tight End, Linebacker, KR/PR, Wide Receiver, and Cornerback). Add to that list, another 3-4 players that are actually Special Teams players (Santi, Bullitt, Glenn, Silva). The biggest irony is that some of the players on IR, are guys that were signed to be backup depth at some of these positions and were pressed into playing because of need at other positions.
To elaborate a bit further, Melvin Bullitt was essentially a starter at 2 positions for the Colts, as well as a quality backup safety. The guy easily could have been our starting safety over Bob Sanders. However, he was relegated to filling in as a starter for Sanders when Sanders was hurt and was also heavily used on Special Teams. His loss essentially required the Colts to fill 3 positions. How? He was the backup Safety playing a starters role, so his loss meant the Colts now had 2 Safety positions. Now, you also have to fill his position on Special Teams.
To complete the entire picture for you....The Colts have utilized the following as starters for games this season:
3rd and 4th Tight End on the depth chart
3rd, 4th, and 5th Running Back on the depth chart - having to pull guys off other teams practice squads
3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Wide Receivers on the depth chart - having to pull guys off practice squad
The Colts offensive line has only had 1 player start every game this year (Jeff Saturday).
The Colts defense has had a different starter at every LB position at least twice this year.
The Colts have not started all of their projected starters at the DB position on the field at the same time once this year. I'm using Sanders instead of Bullitt, despite knowing he really should count.
I mean, to be able to go into Foxborough, have Manning put up almost 400 yards and 4 TD's through the air, not be able to run the ball a lick, and lose in the closing seconds despite all of this.....speaks volumes to the ability of this team. There are some teams in the NFL when fully healthy couldn't duplicate that feat..
Manning's interceptions are why the Colts are losing
Another asinine and stupid comment. I do not care who you are, whether you are Bill Polian or BigBlueShoe, if you are drinking this kool-aid, you are an idiot.
The Colts are losing games simply because they cannot run the ball. It is REALLY that simple. Now, that doesn't excuse his Royal MVPness and his sudden case of turnoveritis. What it does is highlight the problem for me. The Colts are throwing the ball at a clip unheard of in the modern NFL. Manning broke his career pass attempts in a game and season this year and we still have 2 games left to play. Why are we throwing so much? Simple. A grandma in a walker could get more yards walking in mud than the Colts O-line can block on a clean field in a dome. Pathetic isn't it?
Since the loss of Tarik Glenn, easily the greatest lineman in Manning's era, the Colts have managed to record a single 1000 yard rusher. Even that is almost an aberration in of itself, as it took 15 games to get that. Here's where the stats really hurt the Colts: The Colts have gone down in yards per game average since 2006.
2006 - 110.1 (18th) Won SB
2007 - 106.6 (18th) Lost first playoff game
2008 - 79.6 (31st) Lost first playoff game
2009 - 80.9 (32nd) Lost SB - 2nd year in a row that a team last in rushing would lose SB
2010 - 85.1 (32nd) Current through 14 games
Do you see a trend? The Colts have managed to mask this inability to run the ball because they've been able to keep key players healthy for most of the year. Unfortunately, it seems since Harrison's knee injury in 2007, the Colts running attack has evaporated.
The Colts are passing the ball too much
Yes, they are passing the ball too much. However, it appears only injuries to their own players are capable of really stopping the Colts. No one has been able to stop the Colts as much as injuries to key players have stopped them.
Let's put it in perspective:
Colts #1 Passing Offense
Colts #4 Overall Offense - despite having the league's worst rushing attack
Colts #4 Scoring Offense - averaging 27.2 points per game
Colts have failed to score 20 points in a game only twice all year
Manning has broken his single game record for pass attempts/completions as well as his single season record for attempts/completions.
Manning is on pace to break his record for most yards in a season in his career, as well as matching his second best year TD total (33 TD's).
Manning is averaging over 300 yards per game for the first time in his career. He didn't even do that the year he set the TD record.
Manning has tied the NFL record for 300 yard games at 63. He has 7 for the year. He had 2 more games that were shy of 300 yards by less than 15 yards.
Think about all of these stats for one minute.....and realize he's doing all of this despite missing his top 2 TE's for most of the year, his #1 and #2 RB for about half the year, has been alternating WR's all year except Wayne, and has had an offensive line that can pass block with the best of them but couldn't stop a Pop Warner defense from tackling a running back on a running play. Amazing huh?
Colts coaches are to blame for mistakes
While there is some truth to these comments, the harsh reality is that the injury situation has really bit this team in the ass hard. Losing guys like Brackett, Addai, Clark, and Bullitt for even a couple games hurts our team as a whole. Now start throwing the guys in who have to fill in for those positions, and add to it the guys who are already filling in for another player who was filling for an injured player. Confused yet? If so, look at it this way.
The Colts had to find 2 replacements to fill in for Bullitt when he went out for the year. Not only as a starter, but also for a backup at that position. So, you are not only having to train a starter, but also get a backup ready to play Special Teams and/or additional positions at DB.
All of this adds up to more mental mistakes, shortened playbooks, and more focus on repetition drilling the plays than fixing errors during practice. This doesn't give a free pass to the coaches, but I can only think of 1 or 2 teams in recent memory who fought through this kind of injury plague and managed to make the postseason.
It's easy to point fingers at the coaches when we see mistakes, but how much of it is the coach and how much of it is simply not having enough quality bodies on the field? I want to make it clear that there are still issues with the coaching, but I see them as a symptom, not so much the problem. This was pretty much the same coaching staff that was able to go 14-2 and make the SB. Last year is last year, but the hits to the roster via injury have plagued the playcalling all year.
The thought of trading Manning
What stupid, idiotic, drug induced world are you living in? There are 29 teams in the NFL who would gladly take Manning in a heart beat. Yes, you heard me right. 29 teams. The only 2 teams who wouldn't are the Saints and Patriots. Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
The rest of the league? You bet. Sure, there are teams like San Diego, Green Bay, and Atlanta who all have very good young QB's. Every one of those teams would also find a way to trade said player or at bare minimum, give a very serious consideration to it, if Manning said I want to wear your jersey for the remainder of my career.
More to the point, do you realize what it would take to pry Manning away from the Colts via a trade? First and foremost, the Colts are going to go after two #1 picks. Secondly, the Colts are going to want a starting QB in return as well. Even then, the Colts would be losing more than they are gaining. The Colts are built around Manning's ability to direct the offense and his uncanny knowledge of the game. It's like trying to put a square peg into a round hole.
Let's even go a step further: The best success the Colts had in Indianapolis previously was under Jim Harbaugh at QB. Manning's rookie year was by far better than any of Harbaugh's years here in Indy. To put it in true perspective, Manning is the kind of quarterback a franchise hopes and dreams of getting. Montana/Young, Marino, Elway, Kelly.....all franchise QB's and all teams who have struggled since they lost said QB. Those teams were those QBs, and while they may have had some success since, it's nothing what it was prior.
These are just a few of my opinions on comments, posts, and blogs I've read around the football world. I want anyone who reads this to know it's not a personal attack on anyone's opinion here. It's merely a reflection of how I feel about the subject. If you love the read, let me know. Thanks for reading!