Before I begin, I want to apologize for the long absence from the site. I have been in the Middle East traveling and covering the Arab Spring and have been swamped with news from the region. It was hard to follow the preseason and the day-to-day changes as closely from abroad (especially with all the tear gas flying) but now I am back and ready to get back to the important things in life...football!
A lot has changed around the NFL in recent months. The Lions are considered contenders, Michael Vick is a rich man once again, the Cam Newton band wagon is suddenly full, Plax is out of jail and Kerry Collins is out of retirement. Worst of all, after 232954 consecutive starts, Peyton Manning wasn't under center for the Colts.
Peyton Manning's injury isn't just crippling for Indianapolis, it's devastating for the league. He was the face of the NFL and now that he is gone Tom Brady will assume that role (the thought is horrifying). Not only will we lose one of the best and classiest players to ever play football, the league's best rivalry (and of one most competitive in all of sports) has now been diminished as well.
But as with all injuries, the games must go on and the team must adapt, something that Colts failed to do week 1.
With Kerry Collins playing his first game as an Indianapolis Colt, the game plan should have been run heavy. The Colts now have two quality running backs, improved run blocking and were facing a Texans defense that was not known for being stout up front (not that they are strong in pass defense last year either).
In fairness, the Colts were down early and had a balanced 6:5 pass-to-run ratio in the first period, but with ferocious linebackers and pass rushers in Mario Williams, J.J. Watt, Demeco Ryans and Brian Cushings, the Colts should have pounded the ball early, keeping the game close and allowing for Collins to find his rhythm.
Regardless of the final score, the Colts shouldn't have allowed Kerry Collins to throw 31 times, especially in the first few possessions. Both Addai (8 carries for 39 yards) and Carter (7 carries 25 yards) ran the ball well. When any team, especially the Colts sans Manning, have a 4.0 ypc average, they should have kept it on the ground.
With Manning sidelined for the foreseeable future (likely the year), the Colts must make these adjustments. It's
important to remember that Collins had Chris Johnson in Tennessee and was rarely called on to win games by
himself. That doesn't mean the Colts should abandon their offensive system completely, but a stronger focus on the running game will help catch him up to speed more quickly.
If Collins' current pass average keeps up (I realize it's only one game in), he is on pace to throw 496 balls. The last time he threw 500 passes was way back in 2005 with the Oakland Raiders. He hasn't thrown more than 415 (2008) since.
Under Manning the Colts offense was an explosive arial assault. Collins is not Manning. Having the 17 year pro throw 30+ passes is not a winning formula now while he is still learning the playbook and won't be later when his arm begins to give way towards the end of the season.
It's time for the Colts to adjust their schemes to focus on the run in order to take pressure off the passing game. Addai just received a hefty contract extension now it's his time to earn it.
Let's hope the Colts run the ball 25+ next week vs. Cleveland.