There really aren't any words for a failure of this magnitude. Is it the story of the season? Eh, time will tell, but the Colts looked like **** when they lost to the Bears in the 2008 opener too (not this bad, though) and still went to the playoffs. So anyone saying the season is over clearly doesn't understand how long a football season really is.
That said: damn. I could count on one hand the number of players who showed up for this game. Pretty much all of them failed Peyton Manning, who tried to will this team to a win despite the complete ineptitude of the guys "protecting" him. One man, it turns out, can't do it all.
Here's a breakdown of my game observations:
QB: Hey, Peyton did his part. He did more than his part. He was great in spite of the players around him. So I don't have much to say here other than STFU to all the pundits who will somehow find a way to blame this on Peyton.
RB: I've never seen a RB get less blocking than Joseph Addai consistently does. Christ, how hard is it to stay attached to a defender? The Colts just can't block. Simply put, they can't block. Addai, like Peyton, played well in spite of the guys around him. I thought there was one third-down catch he could have cut inside for a first instead of bouncing outside, but overall there's no way I can say Addai had anything less than a good game. Donald Brown, on the other hand, looked awful. Brown still has no idea what he's doing in pass protection. He's still a poor receiver and a complete liability in the backfield. He might run alright, but the Colts didn't have much of a chance to do that today. Brown needs a lot of work still. I don't understand how he still doesn't know what to do as a blocker though. I'm tempted to say that Mike Hart is a better option than Brown right now.
WR: Ugh. This is the team's strength, right? Well Reggie played like Reggie and synced up perfectly with Peyton today. As for the rest: Pierre Garcon still needs to learn to catch the damn ball. How is this still a problem? You'd think, after the Super Bowl, he would make a point to improve this in the offseason. And yet, today, another three drops. He reminds me a lot of the Texans' Jacoby Jones actually: very inconsistent, but when he makes a play, it's usually a big play. His hands are painful to watch in the Colts offense sometimes though. Austin Collie had a fumble that was just a killer. I think most receivers cough that up, so I'm a bit hesitant to say that it was a poor individual play, but still you've got to find a way to rise above and hang on to that. Anthony Gonzalez got hurt again. No surprise. Newsflash, Gonzo: this is why you aren't a starter. Dude just cannot stay on the field. He's the Bob Sanders of offense.
TE: Here's my first big coaching beef of the day: where the hell was Brody Eldridge all day? If he played, I didn't notice him. There was nobody giving Charlie Johnson help today, and he got abused. Coaches failed to reinforce the OL today, and the results showed. As for Dallas Clark, pretty typical game. Still a sub-par blocker, but I think we've come to accept that at this point.
OT: Well...so much for my claim that Ryan Diem would bounce back this season. It was hard to tell who was worse -- Charlie Johnson or Diem. Both looked terrible. C. Johnson didn't even seem to know what was going on at points. I can't quite remember the last time I saw two OTs get owned like these guys did today. Give Mario Williams some credit, he's a great player and made plays. So did Antonio Smith. But Christ, these OTs suck. How Polian did not address any of this in the offseason is beyond me.
OG: Even worse than OT. Jamey Richard is not an NFL player. He was horrible all preseason and even worse, somehow, today. Find someone...find anyone who can play OG over him. Richard is awful. If it wasn't bad enough that the OTs couldn't handle their men, the interior line kept turning them over too. Mike Pollak wasn't much better, but he wasn't as bad as Richard, who played maybe the worst game I've seen a Manning-era OG play.
OC: I feel like if somebody played well on the interior line, I would have noticed. Nobody played well.
DE: Hey, Robert Mathis. If you're going to ask for a shiny new contract, you might want to learn how to hold up against the run first. A sack each for 93 and 98, but nothing doing against the run game. Pretty easy to neutralize these guys, it turns out.
DT: Horrendous. Bullied all day. Gino's right, you can't really pick out one bad player on that interior line. But Fili Moala is still pretty bad. Just how I see it. And WTF was Keyunta Dawson doing at DT? For a lot of snaps? What the hell is Dawson doing on this team, in fact? Dawson picked up right where he left off in 2006, which was getting obliterated off the LOS. How in the hell do coaches still think this guy is an NFL player?
LB: The team got nothing out of their linebackers today. Not one of them. Don't even come in here saying Phillip Wheeler sucked any more than Gary Brackett and Clint Session, because he didn't. They all sucked equally. Horrendously equally. I almost wonder if this team should find a way to get Pat Angerer on the field. Don't know that he would have made a difference today, but he at least seems to have a nose for the ball. Today, if the secondary wasn't making the tackle, no one was.
CB: Kelvin Hayden is easily the most overpaid/overrated player on this team, but that PI wasn't really his fault. There should have been a safety there. He was covering for that safety's mistake. I've noticed a trend: whenever there's a substitution of Sanders for Melvin Bullitt, there seems to be a coverage miscommunication. It happened in the preseason and happened again today. Someone should have been back there. That said, Hayden still had a bad game. He even had a nice Antonio Cromartie moment: he saw Vontae Leach running at him on that last TD and ran out of the way to avoid contact. Pathetic. Jerraud Powers did what he could do, which wasn't much. Justin Tryon, outside of a bonehead special teams mistake, looks like a player. I think he could be something at corner, really. I see why players are hyping him up.
S: Oh, Bob Sanders. How predictable you are. Nothing special from the safeties today. Actually I thought even Antoine Bethea looked bad in run support. Still, these guys shouldn't even be making tackles. Incomplete overall grade for them today.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Has much really improved from the Purnell days? We need a season to tell, but I still see an incredibly undisciplined unit that gives up big returns and negates whatever big plays it produces.
- Well, you asked for it Polian. Outside of Kyle DeVan, this was pretty much your starting OL. C. Johnson played. Saturday played. This is the unit you thought, for the most part, you were going to get heading into the season. You didn't make any real moves to improve it after calling it out. The result? An even worse OL than last year.
- Should be fun to hear Polian's spin for this game though. It always is. Can't wait to see which call he thought screwed them over.
- Honestly, the defense? That's fixable. Even though they managed to somehow outplay the OL in terms of suckitude, that's still fixable. Put Antonio Johnson back in there for Moala, and the defense is already improved. Sanders...whatever. We'll consider him on IR. But the defense can be fixed. If that 2006 defense could be fixed, this defense can be fixed too. Of course, they have to show up. They didn't do that today. And...
- Uh, coaches, have you seen a FB before? I know the Colts don't use one that's not also a DT, but you know what they are right? What they do? Yeah, might wanna gameplan for one of those guys being in there next game.
- The OL though...I don't know that that's fixable. Someone convince me otherwise. Explain to me how it is. But I really don't see, outside of a trade, how that unit improves. The best they can hope for is marginal improvement as they develop timing, but that's a best case scenario and that scares me. They're protecting the franchise, and the franchise won't hold up over 15 more games of that.
- Jim Caldwell is starting to draw some questions as a coach. This team played undisciplined in the preseason and is still racking up the penalty yards into the regular season. That's a concern. And that falls on coaches.
- How little faith do you have to have in your defense to onsides kick the ball with 5:00 left down 10? Jeez. That's bad. Of course, the defense proceeded to prove why coaches made that decision.
- All the "cut Sanders" threads are inevitable, but that would be dumb. I'm guessing the injury isn't season-ending, but even if it is, he'll just go on IR and then be waived in the offseason. He's not making enough money this year to justify cutting him right now. I see him out for a few weeks (can we just start listing Bullitt as the starter?) and then back for a few plays. And then done.
- For as remarkably ****ty as the run defense looked -- and they were 2006 bad, maybe worse -- the secondary actually covered well. No cushions. Tight coverage. Outside of a couple mistakes (Hayden PI, Walters TD) I actually can't complain much about coverage. Of course, Matt Schaub only had to throw the ball a dozen or so times.
- This team will surely face a power-running game next week, along with a heavy pass rush. Will they bounce back? We'll see.
Up: Peyton, Addai, Tryon
Meh: A lot of guys
Down: The front seven, the OL, Garcon, Brown