Welcome to the first edition of The Devil's Take for the 2011 year! In what was a must win for the Colts this week, they managed to squeak one out and win the AFC South and the #3 seed in the AFC Playoffs!!!
I cannot think of a single team in recent memory that has been able to do what the 2010 Colts have done this year. With the greatest QB in the game at the helm, they fought through injury, they fought through replacement players, and most of all, they fought through fatigue. This was a team that could have folded their tents up and called it a year 4 weeks ago. They could have quit and some of us would not have begrudged them that.
Manning however, would have none of that. No excuses, only expectations. Sometimes precision, sometimes methodical, and sometimes lucky, he carved up opposing teams like a kid would do on NFL Blitz or Madden. Teams had the benefit of knowing the Colts would throw the ball 40 times and still could not stop him. This year is a true testament to what it means to be a Colts player. NEXT MAN UP!
Colts Week 17 grade: B+
This game wasn't pretty, but it didn't need to be. The Colts had only one objective in this game: Win. In doing so, the Colts cemented their division crown and actually leapfrogged into the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs. For the 3rd straight game, the Colts ran for over 100 yards, held their opponents to under 100 yards rushing, and managed to do so without any significant injuries to a single player.
Rushing offense: 3rd week in a row, 3rd 100+ yard rushing game. First time since 2007.
Passing offense: Several dropped balls, several big plays missed. Still, they made the plays when it was needed.
Rushing defense: 3rd week in a row, 3rd opponent held under 100 yards rushing. Shades of the 06 playoffs.
Passing defense: Atrocious. Focus on covering your responsibility instead of peeking in the backfield. I'm talking to you Jacob Lacey!
Special Teams: For the 3rd week in a row, it's not been a pretty sight. Thankfully, it didn't bite us in the ass this week, but they have got to get this fixed. Zero quality returns on punts, average blocking on kickoffs, and too many guys whiffing on tackles. I realize they are playing shorthanded, but it's no longer an excuse at this point.
27 of 41, 264 yards with 2 TDs
I don't really think this one was much of a surprise here. He's easily one of, and easily the biggest, reasons why the Colts are now 10-6 and AFC South Champions. Another decent game out of Manning, and if not for several drops and a boneheaded offensive pass interference penalty by Tamme, he would have had his 64th career 300 yard passing game.
- Colts Fans - STOP whining about Garcon. We get it. You don't like him because he drops a pass or two. The reality? The Colts as a whole have dropped more passes this year than in any year previously that I can remember with Manning as our QB. Wayne, Clark, Tamme, Gonzo, etc....they've all dropped a ton of passes. Garcon is far from the only one. It's just an easy out because you know, Wayne just doesn't drop passes. Garcon does though, so let's blame him... let's call him out....
- Pierre Garcon - While you have been guilty of a few critical drops this year, now is the time for you to shut everyone up. Take your play level up another notch to what you did last year in the AFC Championship game. Do that, and nobody will be talking about a dropped pass in the regular season. Oh, that dropped ball in the game, that wasn't your fault. Yes, your reading that right. Garcon made an excellent effort on trying to catch that ball, but the reality is it was under thrown. Manning didn't hit him in stride, and Garcon tried to adjust to a ball thrown behind him. Even if he holds on to it, the Colts don't get a TD out of it. Had Manning led that pass, it goes for 6. Instead, Garcon is being picked on once more.
- Penalties - Colts, you have got to stop shooting yourself in the foot with STUPID penalties. Several dumb plays have resulted in negative plays by the Colts. If I see another damn false start by our O-line AT HOME, I'm going to kneecap the sorry shit.
- Coach Caldwell - I think it's time that people give the guy some due credit. This was a season that could easily have finished with the Colts going 6-10. Instead, despite many an outcry by us fans and even established media writers around the country, Caldwell didn't blink on our year. Yes, he's been aided by arguably the greatest QB in the game, but he held this team together. You can question some of his moves, his decisions, but you still have to give him props for keeping this team pointed toward their preseason goal: division champs.
Now I know it's very weird to pick on our defensive coordinator, as he doesn't play the game. Unfortunately, for several weeks, the Colts defensive playcalling has been suspect. Very, very soft coverage on opposing receivers has kept opponents in the game while forcing our defense to work twice as hard to keep the game close. Our offense has struggled in large part due to this because they are being kept out of the game due to extended drives by opponents.
I don't know what the hell you are doing, but get your head out of your ass and get back to calling the game smartly. The injuries are not a big enough excuse for this kind of crap. The Colts may not have marquee players at the DB positions, but they have quality players who can make plays. You continually allow our defense to be put in bad positions because you give too much cushion. For all the crap that our defense has caught all year because of their run defense ineptness, to see the passing defense turn to jello, is very disappointing.
All in all, the game played out about how I expected it to. The Colts were not going to force anything early, were going to take anything they could get, and were working to protect the ball most of the game.
The Titans, as they always do, played us very tightly and made us earn every inch. Sure, we got some breaks on some penalties, and we also gave them back when we had a few dropped passes and that bonehead play by Tamme for off. pass interference.
The Colts run defense showed up once more, to the chagrin of the Titans. Still, our pass defense decided to take a vacation against a Titans team who has struggled to throw the ball all year. Lacey, on several plays, was caught looking in the backfield and got burned on some plays. The cushion on several passing downs had me throwing the pillows at the TV. I do not understand what Coyer is trying to do but I hope he gets his head out of his ass and realizes we can't do this in the playoffs. There's just too much on the line.
What a season this was. The Colts, despite adversity, had a season for the ages. This year's team was almost kind of like a made for TV movie. The Colts have set several team and personal records this year, despite key players being out for parts or all of the season.
Career start 208 - setting the NFL record for consecutive starts to start a career at any position (active record holder)
Threw for a career best 4,700 yards in 2010, over 150 yards better than his previous best
1st player in NFL history to throw for 4500 or more yards in a career 3 times. (Brees, Warner, Marino - twice)
League leading 11th season of 4,000 or more yards passing (2nd best belongs to Dan Marino - 6)
League leading 13th straight season of 3,700 yards or more passing (only player in NFL history)
Tied his second best record for TDs in a season with 33 touchdowns
Set NFL QB and Center games started record this year with Jeff Saturday (170 games currently)
Surpassed #2 all-time on QB-WR passing yardage with Reggie Wayne (#1 belongs to Manning-Harrison)
Surpassed #5 all-time on QB-WR TD record with Reggie Wayne (passing Unitas/Berry)
Set Colts TE touchdown record with Dallas Clark
Sets NFL record with 450 completion in single season
Sets personal best record of completions (450) and attempts (679)
Set personal best record of completions (40) and attempts (57) in a single game
Tied NFL record holder Dan Marino for 63rd 300 yard passing game
Led his team to a league tying 9th straight playoff appearance
Led his team to a league 2nd best record of 9 straight 10 win seasons (49ers have 16)
With his next TD pass, he will become the 3rd member of the 400 TD club
Tied with little brother Eli Manning for league best fewest sacks (16)
I know I missed some more records, but just think about everything you just read. I didn't include any other players who broke or set personal records because most of them would NOT have been possible without the leadership and play of Manning.
The Colts this year would start a total of 5 different running backs, 6 different wide recievers, 4 different tight ends, and the only player on the offensive line to play all 16 games was Jeff Saturday. Most teams never get beyond their 2nd string players for depth, but the Colts went all the way to their practice squad or other teams practice squads for depth this year.
Despite that, Manning would have arguably the greatest statistical year of his career. Without it, the Colts would not be 10-6, they might not even be 6-10. While Brady and Vick are going to be the only two players considered for the MVP, this was a year where Manning truly earned it.
- Reggie Wayne, with his TD grab, set 2nd place on the Colts All-Time TD record list surpassing Raymond Berry with 69. He now sits behind only Marvin Harrison in virtually every statistic.
- Jacob Tamme, the most targeted receiver (TE or WR) since he took over for Dallas Clark. For the year, he has 67 catches, 631 yards, and 4 TDs. Despite not being the primary TE, Tamme finishes the season as the #6 TE in the league in terms of yards.
- Colts offense finished #4 in total offense, #1 in passing offense, and #29 in rushing offense.
- Donald Brown finishes the season as only the 3rd Colts RB to eclipse the 100 yard rushing mark since 2006. He also set career highs for yardage and improved his yard per game average to almost 4.0.
- Blair White would go from undrafted to a starting WR in the NFL, catching a TD on only his second pass in the NFL. How many teams passed on this kid only to watch him come out and play like Brandon Stokely 3.0 (Austin Collie is 2.0) and wish they had him now.
- Bill Polian's trade for Justin Tryon to start the year was an outright robbery of the Redskins. The guy has big play potential all over him and I would not be surprised at all if he is your starter at CB next year for the Colts. He's earned it the hard way, by doing it on the field. Everything the Colts have asked this kid to do he has done it.
Our new season begins, and the Colts march towards a playoff date with the New York Jets here at Lucas Oil Stadium. We've come this far and just when the second season begins, the Colts are finally getting as healthy as they possibly can be at just the right time. The only question mark as far as injuries go is Kelvin Hayden. The rest of the Colts that can play are going to be playing next Saturday.
As always, I appreciate all of your comments and if you like my post, show some love!