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2011 NFL Week 1: Doom And Gloom, Or Not...

I had a commitment during the game.  I was hoping to not hear anything and watch the game from the DVR.  I heard the score during the day and it made my DVR watching different.  Instead of deleting the evidence and just moving on, I sat down with my favorite adult beverage (Canadian blended whiskey and cola for those that care) and watched the game calmly.  My take is a little different than BBS's.  You can decide if that's good or bad.

Yes, the defense was too bland and got killed by the play-action.  The 2nd level players (including Melvin Bullitt on many plays) get pulled up a couple steps and there is space between them and the zone coverage behind them.  I put this squarely on Larry Coyer.  The play-action bootleg needs to be stoppable.  After 3 times, the calls should be changed to keep a player at home to defend the bootleg. 

Yes, Defensive Tackle play today was HORRID.  The Texans re-set the line 4 yards back anytime they wanted to.  This is unacceptable.  The terrible Dan Dierdorf mentioned that the Colts have simplified the defensive playbook.  I think it is too simple.  I have never played football in my life, but I could tell you what was coming on every snap defensively.  Not good news.

Yes, play designs where Dallas Clark has to block Mario Williams one-on-one should be removed from the playbook.  That's all I need to say about that.

Yes, this game was bad.  Yes, there were things that needed to be better.  I, however, am a glass half-full kind of guy.  While there are things to work toward, I saw some things that make me think this, like last season, is as bad as this team can look and they will get better.

The turnover was a fortunate bounce and we will take any luck we can get.  A penalty on a youngster (Joe Reitz) put us in 1st and 25 instead of 2nd and 6.  That situation is something this offense cannot handle with Peyton Manning out.  We can have a avoid the zero and negative plays.  Something positive must happen.  Even if it's 2 yards.  Enter Delone Carter.  This kid impressed me today.  I think we will see more of him.

Speaking of penalties, how many years have the Colts been the least penalized team in the NFL?  Today, we had 3 of 6 penalties on 1st down. Two of them wiped out plays that would have put us in 2nd and manageable or giving us a fresh first down.  All of those plays led to a punt before another first down was reached.  Let's get back to penalty free football.  As we got there in the second half, the offense did start to move and scored.

2 fluky, rust-driven turnovers, allowed the Colts to fall behind in time of possession early.   I think that this, as much as over-pursuit and play calling, led to the struggles on defense.  The defense looked tired and dis-heartened after the second turnover.  Kerry Collins looked comfortable in the shotgun and definitely has the arm strength to work in this offense.  He made smart decisions with the football and just needs a little more comfort with the receivers.   As he gets more comfortable, he will vary the snap count more and stop the quick get offs that we saw today.  

The defensive schemes that I complained about above, have some potential to be much better.  Several times Kavel Conner got free and came on what looked like a rush designed to cover the backside.  I like seeing that.  Pat Angerer is the real deal.  He had the best angles and tackling of the day.  He will take over for Gary Brackett before Brackett's monster contract is over.  If we can capitalize on a couple of small adjustments, things can get much better.

So yes, today was difficult.  I do think there is hope for this team.  The breaks did not go our way after the first two plays of the game.  If the offense builds on the second half and we eliminate some silly penalties to keep us in manageable down and distance situations.  

I was a fan through the Albert Bently and Bill Brooks years.  I survived 1-15 (1991), 4-12 (1993) and 3-13 (1998).  This is not that bad.  Step away from the ledge.  

A small side note.  A couple of times, Dwight Freeney beat Duane Brown around the corner.  Duane used his left arm across Freeney's neck to stop his progress.  I think that's a hold, but it seemed like it wasn't called today or at all in the pre-season.  If these are not called holds this season, Freeney and Mathis will combine for less than 8 sacks all season.  If offensive lineman are allowed to do that, it will kill the speed rush.