As we approach Week 3s matchup with the Niners, the Colts defense has been somewhat under fire under the direction of DC Greg Manusky. After losing a close game to the Dolphins, the chatter has ignited with many calling for the head of Manusky; most sighting his supposed "failures with the Niners and Chargers" as the beacon of proof for why he needs to go. I think this is a ridiculous and short sighted judgement call by Colts fans who think that way because most of this chatter is fueled after a Colts loss. In all fairness to coach Manusky, the Niners he coached are not the same Niners he will be facing this Sunday. Manusky worked under then HC Mike Singletary and with an inefficient Alex Smith at QB. The defense was not as bad as the stats may suggest because they spent a lot of time on the field due to the ineffective offense. Also, if my memory serves me correctly, that Niners team took a Peyton Manning led Colts team playing at home down to the wire 4 years ago. Manusky was the DC of the Niners in that game and that defense had a solid showing against the Colts. The Niners didn't lose that game because Manusky was a bad play caller. They lost it because the Colts had a better signal caller under center than the Niners did. Same goes for his stint with the Chargers, who've been an enigma under then HC Norv Turner for the majority of his tenure there.
The Chargers would (and still do) notoriously put points on the board against their opponents only to turn the ball over in bunches in crunch time. Those turnovers put the defense in a bad position which made them look worse than they actually were statistically. If you want an example look at the Chargers' first game of the season vs the Texans. San Diego led for most of that game by two TDs only to lose the game by turning the ball over and giving up 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter:
This game is signature of how the Chargers have been ever since Phillip Rivers took over at QB. Even with a new HC they still make the same bone headed mistakes they made under former HC Norv Turner. Although they did look decent in a win a week later against the Eagles, it won't be long before we see another game like the first I posted above from them.
Now flash forward to the Miami game. As I said in a previous post, the Dolphins are not the same team we beat from a year ago. When Colts fans say "They are not a playoff team and we should've beaten them" it negates the fact that Miami improved in the offseason from last year. They have a new middle LB in Danell Ellerbe, a new CB in Brent Grimes, and arguably the fastest WR in the league in Mike Wallace. All of these new additions made critical contributions throughout the game. Even still, Manusky's defense came away with 5 sacks and countless pressure on Ryan Tannehill in the losing effort. The Colts didn't lose that game because "Manusky's play calling sucks." They lost it because Luck threw an INT on a play that showed Reggie Wayne getting held by Brent Grimes (who also intercepted the ball) when the game was on the line. This also shows you can't base how good a team is by off of what they did last year. What the Dolphins were last year is "last year." It has absolutely no bearing on what they will do or how far they'll go this year. Same goes for the Colts. Just because they made the playoffs last year is by no means a guarantee they'll make it in this year. All this holds true for the Raiders as well. In spite of what most fans around here think, the Raiders are a much improved team and Terrell Pryor is a better QB than he's given credit for. Lastly, the fire coming under Pep Hamilton is unjustified also. The biggest mistake that all his critics (especially on here) make in evaluating his play-calling is comparing the Colts offense to that of the Broncos.
Coach Pags and Pep Hamilton understand the most important component in any offense when it comes to winning games at the highest level: Being able to run it." For all of the Broncos lovers still drooling over the Manning led aerial attack, I advise you to take a trip down memory lane. There's no one who knows Manning better than we do. We've seen him and his offense for over 13 years up close and personal. Out of 14 years he still only has one SB ring out of two appearances to show for it. When I look at the Broncos, I don't see much of a difference between them and the Colts teams Manning led for the better part of a decade. Those teams led the league in most passing statistics and scoring, but lacked a bona fide ground game. that formula worked in the regular season, but fizzled in the playoffs. I don't care how many 40+ games the Broncos have this year. If they don't find a running game that teams respect, they will be one and done again like last year. The Colts on the other hand are built for a deep playoff run. This team has the goods to go into Foxburrough in the dead of winter and grind it out with Brady. They can go toe to toe with Baltimore in Baltimore. They can go head to head with the Texans. That's what a solid running game and a defense that can stop the run will do for you. That's the kind of "monster" coach Pagano is building.