One week after a valiant effort to win their 10th game of the year and 4th in a row, the Colts drop a close game at home. However, this game wasn't as close as the score indicates. The Colts ran out of gas on defense pretty much at half time and it was only a matter of time before the Jets took advantage of it. The Colts coaching staff on both ST's and defense failed to make any real effort to recover and subsequently lost this game because of it.
Manning would play well throughout the game, and the Colts running game would generate their best postseason rushing attack since SB41. Still, the Jets running game would basically destroy the Colts D-Line from half time on and the Colts were never really ever able to mount a real attack.
Colts Week 18 grade: C-
This game was a tale of two halves. They made the adjustments, we didn't. It's that simple. You can say what you want about injuries finally catching up to us, but that wasn't the case. This was almost as bad as the opening day loss to the Texans. The game changed on the Jets first drive in the 2nd half.
Passing offense: I thought Peyton had some opportunities that he passed on, but I can't complain with what he gave us. 18 of 26, 225 yards, and 1 TD. He also led 3 other drives that scored FGs.
Rushing offense: It wasn't pretty all the time, but the Colts may have finally figured out how to run the ball again. 93 yards rushing on 27 attempts at a 3.4 ypc. It's not great numbers, but this is a defense that was 3rd overall against the run and 6th overall in total defense.
Passing defense: Jacob Lacey continued to prove to all of us he's not a starting caliber CB. I give him credit for trying, but I think a fridge could have played as good on defense as he did today. Beyond that, not much to say really. The Jets aren't much of a passing team. The Colts kept just about everything in front of them, but Lacey was horrible.
Rushing defense: It's very hard to overlook the 169 yards rushing the Jets put on the Colts, but the truth is, the numbers aren't as bad as it looks. The Jets ran the ball 38 times for a 4.4 ypc average. That's roughly a little more than league average. What was killer is the inability to stop the Jets on long drives when were playing run with 9 guys in the box and still let them get a first down.
Special Teams: Yes, Bill Polian hit this on the head. I disagree with the guy for thinking the defense played great/well, but Special Teams cost us this game. 2 big returns on kicks, with missed tackles galore. A boneheaded penalty on what was a b.s. call in the first place. The worst offense was on the final kick, how do you let a guy get that far up field on a kickoff return?
It may not make sense to a lot of you, but guys like Blair White, Jeff Linkenbach, Ken Hamlin, Aaron Francisco (yes, him too) and many others should be applauded right now. Without them, this is quite possibly the worst year of Manning's career since his rookie season. Instead, the Colts fight on and end up with their 9th straight playoff appearance. It's all together easy to bash the play of many a Colts player right now, but I think right now, everyone should at the very least, give these guys a round of applause. Some of them may truly be no better than 2nd stringers, but they played their hearts out whether they failed or succeeded.
I am just as pissed and angry at watching this team fall apart due to injuries and underperforming as many of you are. However, I can't point my finger at a lot of these guys. They tried. Some were put in losing situations from the get go (Lacey, Francisco) and some were put in good positions (Tamme, White). Still, just about every single one of them gave us effort.
- Caldwell's timeout at the end of the game - I've already listened to several people that I know in real life whining about this. I've also seen a few comments about it here on SB. For all of you whining about firing Caldwell, you just need to get over it. Caldwell didn't make a bad decision here. You hope to conserve even a few possible seconds that perhaps a kickoff return or a Hail Mary might be an option. The Colts knew the Jets would kick a FG. The results of that 2nd and 8 play sealed the deal, but if the Colts had somehow magically managed to win that game on a missed FG, no one would say anything about the time out call. The reality is that the timeout was actually meaningless at that point. The Colts needed a quick FG or a miss to have any shot of getting the ball back.
- Jets rushing attack vs. Colts defense - Bill Polian was quoted as saying he couldn't find any thing wrong with the way the defense played tonight. I'll absolutely disagree with that. However, my complaint with the Colts defense has more to do with the play calling by Coyer than with the Colts defense as a whole. Why you ask? Simple. The Jets essentially run the pro version of college's Triple Option. They are not a team that is going to beat you throwing the ball. They run the ball on every down they have a chance to, and only pass when they really need to. Hell, they don't even necessarily pass it when they need to because they can actually run it on downs most teams wouldn't dream of. That's not 100% accurate, but it's essentially their M.O. Many will look at the Jets and go,"They ran for 170 yards on you and 2 TDs." That may be true. However, they did it the hard way. The Jets had 2 really big runs all night and only averaged 4.4 ypc. That's essentially just a bit better than league average. In fact, about 12 teams would average 4.3 ypc or better for the year.
- Colts play calling early on in the game - One of the biggest failures by the Colts all game was their inability to once again convert on short yardage downs on 3rd down. I may be mistaken, but I believe the Colts finished going 2 for 7 on 3rd downs where they need 3 yards or less. That's unacceptable at every level of football. If you cannot run the ball to pick that up, you essentially concede the game. On both of the Colts first two drives, we had chances to run the ball on 2nd and very short. We passed on both downs. On obvious running downs on 3rd down, we would pass it once and run it again on a second. Both plays failed badly. This needs to be fixed more than ANYTHING the Colts are facing this offseason.
Have I beaten the horse once too much this year? If I have, I really don't give a damn. The simple fact is that once again, questionable calls by the officials have led to problems for the Colts. I can count about 4 or 5 calls in particular that were highly borderline or questionable, and at least 2 others that weren't called. If the league really wants to promote a quality product, they need to get their refs on the same page. Unlike the NBA or MLB where they make every effort to not give a damn about the product they put on the field, the NFL generally tries to prevent this crap.
- On LT's long run in the 1st quarter, the refs missed a holding call on Jets TE Ben Hartsock #84 on Pat Angerer #51. If you watch the play again, you can see Hartsock with his arms around the outside of Angerer's pads and when Angerer turns to run towards the play, you can see Hartsock wrap him up again from behind. Should have been a 10 yard flag instead of a 23 yard gain.
- On the Colts following possession, the Jets Cromartie would get away with a blatant hold on Pierre Garcon. You can see the replay where Cromartie pretty much just grabs him by the jersey and pulls on him. Even the commentators mentioned it during the game. You can jam a receiver at the line and you can put your hands on him for 5 yards....but that should have been flagged as a penalty.
- The no call by the refs on Tamme getting run over for a dropped pass was probably the most blatant missed call in the game. You cannot run through an offensive player to make a play on the ball. It's pass interference. The refs had been letting both teams play pretty loose all game, but this was a HUGE botched call. This should have been Colts ball deep in the Jets territory and I honestly feel this was essentially where the Colts lost this game. Not being able to score a TD on that drive effectively kept the Jets in it.
- The flag on Taj Smith was a joke. Not only was he pushed from behind by a Jets player, but he was actually seen holding up the Jets punter. I actually started laughing when I saw the Jets punter do a flop job because it was down right hilarious. The officials for this game were horribly inconsistent. They would let the guys fight a bit and then the next minute you'd see a ticky tack flag come out.
The refs would actually only make one good call all game that I could see, and that was the goal line call. Initially ruled down at the 1, the refs were overruled and the Colts were given the ball at the Colts 20 instead of their 1.
As a Colts fan, I'm so pissed off at this loss it just makes me sick. I didn't think we were going to go far, but to lose in this manner, just makes me want to go headhunting. To get the lead with a minute to go only to lose because our ST and defense can't tackle, it's just sickening. However, reality sets in.....
This was a team that honestly overachieved for the year. Most of us wished, hoped, and prayed the Colts could pull off the unthinkable, but I think we all knew in the end that we would eventually lose.
It's very easy to get pissed off and blame the Colts players for this loss. I however, don't think that's a fair shake. 18 players on IR, of those, 12 were starters (STs, Defense, and Offense). Several of those players, were key players for the Colts as leaders. The Colts would start at least 5 different safeties for the year. The Colts would put a total of 10 DBs on IR. At the end of the day, I look at what the Colts players had to endure and I'm proud of my team.
What I'm not proud of is the job the Colts coaching staff did. Coyer has regressed since last year, and even last year, failed to really dial up the pressure during the final 2 playoff games. All year long, with or without the injuries, his defense has been spotty at best. The special teams, after finally being about league average last year, would be outright horrible. I'm willing to give Christensen a bit of a pass, due to this being the first year it was all just him and Manning. True, I wasn't very happy or impressed with him, but I think a lot of it simply due to the change in style. What I did appreciate from Christensen was more emphasis on trying to run the ball.
- Pierre Garcon - 1 missed pass the whole game, and you had no real chance on it. 112 yards on 5 receptions and 1 TD. You have essentially sealed the deal for me. Garcon is the Colts #2 WR period for as long as he wears a Colts uniform. The only way this changes is if he gets hurt or traded.
- Anthony Gonzalez - Was nice knowing you and thanks for your contributions to this team, but see ya! Your inability to really stay healthy the last 2 seasons has essentially dropped you to the bottom of the roster in terms of rotation. While you still have 1 year left with the Colts, I expect the Colts to look to either cut you or move you. They have Collie and White, plus a couple of kids on the practice squad. Your injury history makes you a liability. Yes, Collie has had 2 confirmed concussions this year, but he's still 100% physically healthy.
- Bob Sanders - Another guy who I hate see go but a guy that needs to go. Same as Gonzo above, fan favorites but inability to stay healthy has pretty much cemented it for you. With the stellar play of Melvin Bullitt, it's time to promote him to the starter full time.
- Ryan Diem - Another guy who needs to be cut loose or moved to a different position. I think the guy is a great person and he was at one time a great tackle. If the Colts could move him inside as a Guard, I think it would be a smart move. He's got the size and ability for it. He simply doesn't have the speed to play the tackle position anymore.
- Donald Brown - FINALLY, what a few of us have known all along got shown to the rest of the world. This kid can flat out play. When given an opportunity to actually find a running lane, this kid has shined as a home run hitter, which was what the Colts got him for. If the Colts can make some good moves on the O-Line this off-season, they could have a much improved running game this coming year.
- Joe Reitz, Jacques McClendon - two very big guys who the Colts seriously need to put time and effort into for this coming season. Both are very tall, athletic guys with some serious beef on them. McClendon is supposedly being prepped to replace Saturday at Center and Reitz is playing Tackle. Reitz at 6'7" has a lot of height and could very well play at either tackle position.
- One coach will be fired - I'd be shocked if it's Coyer, but I'm pretty much certain the ST's coordinator is gone.
- Where the hell was Reggie Wayne? - The Colts made zero effort to include Wayne in the playcalling all game. I was absolutely shocked and pissed about this. Yes, Garcon played fantastic all game, but how do you completely ignore your best WR? Christensen has to answer for this, and quickly, because this is ludicrous.
- I'm putting this here because it's easier to do it this way. There are several people who are butt hurt by BBS's posts and or opinion on this blog. Some of you have made countless references to other blogs and sites telling people to go elsewhere. The criticism of BigBlueShoe is warranted, as he is the head writer and sometimes writes very opinionated/disliked articles. The childishness and the constant bickering on the articles however is annoying. If you don't like what he posts, don't read it. If you want to argue it, fine, but do so without turning the posts into 100 comments of annoying back and forth. I want you to understand that I don't really give a rat's ass who pissed in who's Wheaties. I don't really care who did what to whom. All I know is that there are several of us who are tired of it. The season is over.....if you don't like what you read here....just please.....gooooooo.
As this will be the final Devil's Take of the Colts 2010 season, I'd like to take this time to give thanks to everyone who has read my articles. Whether you agreed with me or not, I've appreciated all the feedback and interaction. Some of you have even asked when I'd join the ranks here at SB. That to me is a very big compliment. I really do appreciate it.
I will be posting up a few articles throughout the off-season, and as always, they will be listed as Devil's Take.