As always, welcome to another fine edition of The Devil's Take. For the better part of the last week, I've been reading several Fanposts and articles about various Colts topics, and I'm just kind of tired of some of them. For those that are new to my freakshow, it's mostly a blunt view of how things are in my OPINION. You are of course welcome to disagree and voice your opinion. That's what makes this place so great.
So what could possibly have gotten me all pissed off like a wet cat in a tub? Well, there's several things that are capable of that.
Bad mouthing the Colts accomplishments
Now before I get completely bent out of shape over it, the main point seems to be the Colts could have won more games and won more championships. Okay, I think every Colts fan believes that. I do not think there is a sane Colts fan anywhere who would go, "No, I must not have more wins. Must not have more SB victories." Having said that.... REALLY???
The Colts are the winningest franchise over the last decade, with only the Patriots and Steelers having more SB appearances/wins. These 3 teams have combined for 9 of the last 11 SB appearances from the AFC. Is it any irony that the Colts have faced the tougher competition EVERY year compared to anyone in the NFC? The Colts would be perennial #1 seeds in the NFC. The Colts have won at least 10 games in 11 of Manning's 13 seasons. They've won 10 games or more 8 seasons in a row (still active). They won 12 games or more 7 seasons in a row which had NEVER been done in the NFL ever (now broken). The Colts are the only team to make the playoffs in each of the last 8 seasons. Only the 49ers have had a better win streak in terms of 10 win seasons (16) and the Cowboys made the playoffs for 20 years in a row. Now, that doesn't even include all the records that various Colts players have set, broken, or are still creating, including Manning. But, I digress.
You don't want to hear about all the records and things the Colts have done. What you want to bemoan is the fact that Manning is 9-10 in the playoffs. 7 first round exits. 2 SB appearances, 1 win. You want to dismiss the Colts SB win against the #1 ranked defense and #1 seeded Chicago Bears, despite the Colts playing two better teams in the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots JUST to get to the SB. You want to hypothesize that the Colts would have won more games.
I got news for you. So does EVERY OTHER FAN OF EVERY OTHER FRANCHISE. For every team that wins, there's fans going well we had it, we shoulda won it. There's fans WISHING they even had a season to complain about. If you are a fan of the Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and even the Buffalo Bills, they would gladly trade you places in a heart beat to have this kind of team in their hometowns. To even sit here and whine or even bitch, for lack of better term, about what the Colts have done, is hilarious. To go a step further, if you are so upset with the lack of wins, why don't you burn your Colts gear and go don a jersey of a team like the Bills so you can at least have a valid reason as to their failures.
The best team DOESN'T always win. The Philadelphia Eagles went to 4 straight NFC title games and 5 in 8 years, the best in the NFL. ONE SB appearance which they lost. Don't you think they're a bigger failure? Don't you think their fans are equally going we should have won more? They also know that THAT is what football is. The best team is the team that wins on that day, not on paper. The Patriots went on an 18-0 run only to get beat by a team that wasn't even supposed to be in the game.
Look, I understand how you feel that the Colts should have won more. Everyone gets that, feels that, believes that. However, if shoulda, woulda, couldas, were all it took to make it reality, I'd be a billionaire.
Why people continue to hate on this guy, I'll never quite understand. The kid is not a bruiser, like James or Addai. He's a home run hitter. The whole reason he was drafted is because he has the ability to take it to the house every time he gets a hole that he can squirt through. He played decently his rookie year, despite his mistakes. His second season, he showed a lot better skills, and set a Colts record for longest run from scrimmage by a RB. He also had his first 100 yard game. This, despite 2 years of playing behind an NFL ranked 32nd and 31st rushing offensive line. Any of the top 5 RB's, pick one, wouldn't be able to produce a 1000 yard season behind this line, especially last season. Adding to that, NONE of the Colts RB's have produced a 1000 yard season since 2006.
The irony is, that as the line play finally started becoming decent (the last 4-5 games of the year), the running game as a whole started to improve. The Colts were able to creep back up close to or at the 4 yards per carry league average. Donald Brown goes off for over 140 in a game and would also be the first Colts RB since 2007 to run for 100 yards in a game. Not Addai, not Rhodes, not any other backup, but Brown. Yes, two huge runs for 30+ yards helped, but the talent is there. Given an appropriate line that can block, the kid could be a steal for the Colts. Yes, he has to show it on the field, but you can't blame him when he's getting tackled in the backfield by the opposing defense as soon as the ball is handed off.
Another guy who's repeatedly getting trashed. Unlike Donald Brown, Hughes hasn't necessarily helped himself in his play on special teams. However, I point out another player who was absolutely putrid in his rookie season: Reggie Wayne. 27 catches, 345 yards, and 0 TDs. Keep in mind, he was a first round draft pick. He was a guy who was far more talented than Jerome Pathon or Terrence Wilkins, but simply couldn't get it done. How'd that guy turn out? His second year was barely any better at that, simply doubling his production of his rookie year. Granted, that's a progressive stat, but he wasn't being stuck behind two Pro Bowlers and being asked to spend his time on the bench or play special teams all the time.
I want to make it clear that I am not making excuses for the guy. His rookie year was pretty much trashed by the injuries that ravaged the Colts as a team, making players who could play multiple positions a priority for playing time. Going from being a starting DE to trying to make plays on special teams just to get on the field can make anyone look bad. Yes, he had a bad preseason game. Big whoop. It's preseason and the kid needs reps against players he doesn't know. Mathis took a few years to develop. Some players do. To just call it quits because he's a first round pick is hilarious. That's like saying Brady shouldn't have been a 1st rounder, because obviously he wasn't that talented. 1st round picks are usually expected to come in and produce, but they don't always HAVE TO. Some players have to be developed or molded. For all the talk about coming in to contribute, tell that to Aaron Rodgers....
Why is this guy still on the squad? Yes, the kid has a good arm, he has a good size, and he knows the Colts playbook. So did Sorgi, minus the good arm, but we still got rid of him after we paid him about 5 million to run preseason and ride the pine. This kid is the same thing, only worse. Tom Brandstater CLEARLY outplayed him last year during preseason and was cut loose. Orlovsky just joining the Colts is already better than Painter. Davis, while a huge project, was cut for other reasons than his play in the game against the Rams.
The truth is, almost no team in the NFL can win with their backup QB if their starter is out for the rest of the year. The Patriots are the lucky benefactors of having done it twice, but the reality is this is an anomaly. Only 4-5 teams in the history of the NFL (SB1 to now) have ever won it all with a backup QB for most of the year. Those teams however were typically defense heavy units who won more on the strength of their defense than their QB play.
And everyone screaming for a quality backup, short of grabbing someone like a Daunte Culpepper, there really aren't any. About the best actual backup in the league is Jon Kitna, despite his age, and he's playing for the Cowboys. The 2nd best? Shaun Hill for the Lions. After that? A crap shoot.
Look, the guy isn't the greatest coach. I'm not even going to try to defend the guy like he's Tony Dungy. However, you could have guys like Josh McDaniels, Brad Childress, Cam Cameron, Wade Phillips, or even better, you could have a guy like Bobby Petrino. Each one of those guys would have been INFINITELY worse for the Colts than Caldwell. So while it's okay to wish we had Fisher or Cowher as our HC, it's easy to forget that those guys are also defensive minded coaches. Both could play defense with our current roster, but it would be a different team, and almost assuredly would be run heavy. While not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn't guarantee a better outcome.
The point I'm making is that while Caldwell has made missteps, it's easy to forget you could have a worse head coach. You could have a guy hiring complete morons who have no business doing what they're doing. Almost every coach for the Colts is in house with the exception of the Special Teams and Defense coordinators. They've improved both units compared to what was under Dungy. Is there still room to improve? Absolutely.
I remember hearing the same crap from Colts fans when Dungy failed his first two years, they were all on him for being soft, not willing to go for the throat, etc etc ... I doubt Caldwell will ever be a head coach again in the NFL, but that doesn't mean he's that horrible either.
Anyways, I just needed to vent a little about some things, and to remind people that the grass ISNT always greener on the other side.