I guess it's a sign of accomplishment; a sign that things really, truly have changed. When I was in Indianapolis over the Thanksgiving week, I noticed just about everyone in downtown Indy was wearing some kind of Colts-related jersey, shirt, coat, or hat. Their kids had Colts shirts. One lady had her dog decked out in Colts regale. This was on a Friday, days before any actual games are played.
Now, in this 2006 season, the Colts are 10-2. They will most likely win their division (again). They sit in a good spot to get home field in the playoffs (again). They are getting healthy and, unlike last season, they've pulled off incredible wins under difficult circumstances. However, despite all this, the point I have maintained since the beginning of mini-camps back in May is the regular season means NOTHING for this team. Yes, I know winning the division and all that is important, I agree. But for the Colts, it is what they do in January that will now define them. Until they actually get to a Super Bowl, everyone will take shots at them for whatever reason.
It's not a coincidence that the traffic for this site spiked big time after the Colts lost to Dallas. People came here because they wanted to pile it on. They enjoy kicking a good team while it's down. Such antics by fans are a mark of respect folks. It means your team has arrived.
So, when the Colts lose a game, like the one on Sunday to the Titans, I think it's key not to get to freaked out. The Titans are 5-7, and their season is over. They are playing for next season, and have done so for the last 3 years. And while their QB is good at running for first downs, that means nothing in the long run. If he cannot THROW for first downs, this is all fool's gold for Titans fans (ask Falcons fans for a reference).
This past Sunday was the first time in 4 years the Titans have beaten the Colts. Please look at that statistic, take a breath, and relax.
Four friggin' years.
This is the first division loss the Colts have suffered since 2003. That's three years ago.
Three friggin' years.
And yet, despite this, I'm seeing threads wanting Tony Dungy fired? Huh? Did I miss something? I didn't see Dungy drop easy balls, miss tackles, play sloppy, or commit uncharacteristic penalties. Morons like Kravitz will harp on the timeouts before the 60 yard FG, forgetting the fact that the Titans actually MADE A FRIGGIN 60 YARD KICK to win. Timeouts or not, if the other team kicks a 60 yard FG in less than 15 seconds, you've lost. It's better to have them attempt the kick with the correct personnel for your team on the field than have the wrong personnel on the field in case of some trickery by the Titans, for which they are known. In any case, it wasn't Dungy's coaching or really even the 60 yard kick that beat the Colts. The kick was just the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake. It was the culmination of the following:
- Turnovers. I asked for no turnovers, and what did I get? Balls hit receivers right in the hands, they pop up, and get picked. Sloppy mistakes and dumb penalties (nice trick Marlin, it cost your team 15 yards) also contributed. The amazing thing out of all this mess is the Titans played a good game, the Colts played a terrible one, and yet the Titans needed a 60 yard FG to win. The Colts have turned the ball over 7 times in the last 3 games. That is the main reason they are 1-2 during that stretch. The Colts have consistently shot themselves in the foot.
- Somebody tackle, please. Vince Young ran wild, and at some point it got silly. Why are the Colts playing him like a real QB? HE CAN'T THROW! Put Bob in the box and dare this rookie to go deep. Bob then lays the wood to this guy the minute he even thinks about crossing the line of scrimmage. This was not a well coached game plan on Ron Meeks' part, and he should take some heat for it. I know he got guys playing out of position, but still. And there's no reason now why guys like LenDale White are running wild. This defense gets a shot next week against the Jaguars, who run very well. That game is their gut check. If the Colts can't stop the Jaguars running game, my opinion of Meeks and the defense might shift.
- Where was Addai? He ran the ball only 16 times. Dominic Rhodes ran for 12. In future games, I want to see Addai get it 18-20 times, with Dom getting 6-8 touches. That's it. Addai is a better back than Rhodes, and it is obvious. Tennessee was daring Indy to run, playing their safeties 15 yards back, but when Dom touched the ball it was almost always a stuff. 12 carries for 39 yards = shitty running. The Colts looked as if they were going to give Addai the ball more, but didn't follow through with that Sunday.
Before this site goes all chicken little, I remind everyone the Colts still have the best record in football. No one team right now looks dominant. I know some will say San Diego, but let me see them play someone. Beating teams like Buffalo and the Raiders doesn't inspire fear in me. Teams like the Cowboys, Ravens, Bears, or the Patriots aren't dominant either. Despite winning their games, both the Bears and Cowboys QBs played horribly! The Ravens looked putrid in their loss to the Bengals, and the Patriots needed some last minute heroics to beat the Lions. All those teams have significant weaknesses too on both sides of the ball.
It is all about these next four games. We will see what kind of team Indy has these next four games. It's about getting hot going into the playoffs, finding ways to win, and getting healthy. The Colts are indeed getting healthy, and they have always found ways to win. Now, it's a matter of getting hot at the right time.