Finding Buckner: Search for the Colts' Scapegoat - Day 4

Frederick M. Brown

Every franchise has one - the player/fan/coach that kept you from getting to the top when you should have. In Boston it's Bill Buckner. In Chicago it's Steve Bartman. In Buffalo it's Scott Norwood. Who is the biggest scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history? That hasn't been determined - yet.

Welcome to Day 4 of the search for Indy's scapegoat.

If you missed Day 1 (shame on you) you missed a blowout with #1 seed Mike Vanderjagt easily handing the #8 seed Aaron Bailey - as any good #1 seed should. At last check, Vanderjagt had nearly 97% of the votes.

You can look at Day 1 by clicking here.

If you missed Day 2 (you really should stop by more) you missed a convincing win by our #2 seed, Jeff George. I won't lie, Nick Harper got a lot more votes that I thought he would - but at last check George had 75% of the vote.

You can look at Day 2 by clicking here.

And... if you missed Day 3 (alright... seriously?!?) you missed a race that was by far the closest vote of the tournament to this point. Jim Caldwell advances over Bill Polian by just 6 votes (don't let anyone tell you your vote doesn't count!).

You can see who won Day 3 by clicking here.

For anyone that is reading this for the first time, here's a recap of how we got to where we are - A couple of months ago I reached out to Colts fans via Twitter (follow me @ColtsInsiders) and asked who they would nominate for such a dubious crown. In other words - in Indianapolis Colts history, who do you love to hate? I got about 12 different names. I selected the best of the best and took the liberty of seeding the top eight.

  1. Mike Vanderjagt
  2. Jeff George
  3. Jim Caldwell
  4. Hank Baskett
  5. Ron Meeks
  6. Bill Polian
  7. Nick Harper
  8. Aaron Bailey
Our first round match-ups look like this:

#1 Vanderjagt vs. #8 Bailey - VANDERJAGT ADVANCES
#2 George vs. #7 Harper - GEORGE ADVANCES
#3 Caldwell vs. #6 Polian - CALDWELL ADVANCES
#4 Baskett vs. #5 Meeks

Our Day 4 match-up of the tournament features Super Bowl goat Hank Baskett, the #4 seed, against the #5 seed, former defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. I'll make the case for each one and you can vote for the winner below.

#4 Hank Baskett

Profile: Hank Baskett was an undrafted free agent out of the University of New Mexico. He has played for three NFL teams including two stints each with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Baskett was a late addition to the 2009 Indianapolis Colts team that started 14-0 and lost to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

Years with the Colts: 2009

Best Moments as a Colt:

  1. Hank Baskett didn't see much playing time for the Colts throughout the 2009 season, catching just four passes and recording one tackle on special teams. His best game statistically was against the Jets (when the Colts rested their starters to forgo a perfect season) when he caught two passes for 16 yards.
Why he is on the list:
  1. During Super Bowl XLIV, with the Colts leading the Saints 10-6, Baskett fails to recover a surprise onside kick. The ball hit Baskett square on the facemask and bounced towards the Saints. Amazingly he still had a chance to recover the ball and, at one point, seemed to have it. The officials (who seemed to say 'blue ball' during the scrum) eventually awarded the ball to the Saints and New Orleans went on to win the game 34-17.

Summary : Hank Baskett's time with the Colts was short but his impact wasn't. What would have happened in Super Bowl XLIV had he recovered the kick cleanly? Baskett hasn't talked much about the kick, but I was able to find some quotes released by the Eagles PR department (posted by ESPN South blogger, Paul Kuharsky) concerning the kick. Take a look:
"I thought everybody was going to come down on me for it. As everybody knows, anybody who follows football, one play does not change the game. It sucks that the first onside kick in history before the fourth quarter had to happen to me. It was battle underneath the pile, but I actually haven't been beaten down about it. I knew I was probably going to catch some grief. Of course, it's the biggest game of the year, but not what I was expecting or anybody else was expecting."

- Hank Baskett, on if he had been given flack for not recovering the onside kick
"I took the step, I took the steps back and then I saw it coming. I went and it took a bad bounce and I don't know how I had a second chance. I crawled under everybody and got back on it. It was a long time underneath there. Guys on our team attested that they heard it was 'blue ball' so when I started getting up, another guy poked it out and that's how the guy got it. It was a long battle. I'll tell you, it seemed like we were down there for a good half hour."

- Hank Baskett, on whether or not he saw the onside kick coming


#5 Ron Meeks

Profile: Ron Meeks played college football at Arkansas State University and played professionally in the CFL. He's coached in the NFL since 1991 and worked for the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers.

Years with the Colts: 2002-2008

Best Moments as a Colt:

  1. Part of the 2006 Indianapolis Colts team that won the Super Bowl.
  2. Led defenses that twice finished in the top ten (2002, 2007) in total yards allowed.
  3. Coached five Pro Bowl defensive players (Freeney, Mathis, Sanders, June and Bethea) during his tenure, the first Colts defensive players to be honored since 1987 (Bickett).
Why he is on the list:
  1. Twice in Meeks tenure his defense was ranked 21st or worse in total yards allowed.
  2. Five times over seven seasons the Colts finished 20th or worse in rushing yards per game, their best finish was 15th.
  3. The Colts consistently ranked in the bottom of the league in time of possession, attributed by fans to Meeks' 'bend but don't break' style of defense.

Summary: Ron Meeks and his defense were lightning rods of criticism during the Peyton Manning era. Some fans feel the years of Manning's brilliance were wasted by a defense that couldn't get off the field or take over a game. The 'bend but don't break' style of play and the defense that was 'built to play with a lead' infuriated Colts fans everywhere. Could this team have been a routine Super Bowl participant with an above average defense?

I've presented both sides. Now it's your turn.

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