The question everybody wanted to know was , are the Colts good enough to compete with the big boys? Yes and no...before I get into that, I want to back track...this was 5 straight losses to the p***'s and the first one that was competetive, in those previous 4 blowouts, it was not a result of a team with superior talent, beating up on a lower level team. The p***'s have refined and adjusted their game plan over many years to the tune of , you have to almost play a perfect game to beat them, they have arguably one of the greatest coaches and QB's in NFL history and a blueprint for sucess. The Colts and every other team in this league are just trying to create that. Sure, they can be beat and have been beat, but history shows us that you are going to come up short.....most of the time. Great QB's, with great coaches and a time-developed blueprint = long term sucess. The Colts situation is not hopeless......It can be debated that we have superior talent to the p***'s-overall, then why have we come up short,so often? That fine line, between being good and being great. I believe the Colts have the talent on the roster to beat them, I believe the talent on our roster is every bit as good, if not better than that of the P***'s..... but we do not have the time-developed blueprint and at this point, not sure we have the coaches or leadership to get there either. I do believe we have good coaching and leadership, but not great and until we have great.....this team will not fullfill their potential. I am not stating that Pagano and/or Grigson can't be, but to this point, have not been. Having the talent is required, but it is what you do with that talent, that determines your eventual sucess.
Back the game.....It was competitive, it was a game that was there to be won...then that mind blowing call! Can't find fault with the thought process, we all know had it worked, Pagano would be hailed king of the football world...out-coached belli-boy...took down the dragon.....out foxed the fox...it didn't and there lies the real problem.....that can't happen!! Great teams, with great coaching and leadership...don't screw up that bad...can't happen!!! It is called paying attention to detail, cross the T's..dot the I's....that is the fine line.
Offense: Luck (30-50-312-3 TD's) looked better, but looks like an above average QB, not an elite QB. He started out the season slow, missed a few games, maybe he still isn't 100%, but in year #4, has not played well and really looks lost out there, at times...accuracy, judgement/reads....The O-line has been better, since the tweaks, but it still too inconsistent and too often ...overwhelmed. In time, they could develope into a servicable group, but to compete with the big boys, in needs to be much better. Gore (13-78) had a good game and has been the case, all year, the lack of balance and continuity on the offense has held back his effectiveness, he has shown he can be that guy, who can get the tough yards, can close out a game, can be the difference. Bradshaw wasn't much of a factor, should see his reps and production increase going forward. Hilton (6-74-TD) led the way..... Moncrief's (6-69-TD) production has been huge, with Johnson underperforming and Dorsett getting limited reps, without his production, the offense would be in even worse shape. The offense started out strong, Gore ran well, Luck was hitting most of his throws and getting everyone involved......then they kind of looked flat. It seemed like they had the gameplan that was used with Hasselbeck,with the short, quick-strike throws, in the beginning when it was clicking, but as the game went on, it was more of the mid to longer throws and that is when it went flat?
Defense: When you give up an average of around 200 yards/game, it's hard to not look better...... the run defense was good, maybe even very good, take away the 38 yd run and they really were not very productive-overall. I think they knew they were not going to run for anywhere close to 200 yds, this time and really didn't game plan for it, it was the typical p***'s offense, just like the offense we used when Hasselback was in there, short quick-strike offense, blending in timely runs and an occaisonal deep throw....apparantly ....that works. Jackson led the way with 13 tackles. And the lack of a pass rush is becoming a really big issue, we finished with 2 sacks (Lowery-Newsome). I have heard quite often how Mathis is back and is as good as ever. I really thought he was and looked like he was.....and I know he is on a snap count, but can only remember his name being mentioned a few times, during games. We have really been getting hurt in the passing game, we don't really have anybody that the offense has to gameplan for , other than Davis and the lack of pressure is making it very hard for the defense to stay with receivers that long. Lowery and Adams ( had another pick 6) have both been playing at a very high level, all year. Winn has been a pleasant surprise and has been making plays. Anderson really played a great game coming in for Adams. The other Anderson (Henry) who looked great in the first few games, has really taken a step back, not that he is playing bad or won't eventually get back to that level, but has been not nearly as productive since.
Special teams (A) Adam wasn't needed and McAfee continues his quest to be the best....ever!
Special teams (B) good news: the coverage units are no more than a sprint down the field, with McAfee's punting and kickoffs becoming, nearly ...unreturnable!
bad news: until they feel confident in Dorsett's ability to catch the ball, Whalen will continue to stand there, catch the ball, and run into the pack, was excited when I saw Thigpen was signed, at least there was hope....then he was cut?
A step forward, for sure, it was competitive, despite a move that was unaceptable, despite our elite QB not playing at the expected level....despite some significant weaknesses.....we fought,played hard and had a chance to win.......that was just 1 game and it was not just another game...so how much can be drawn from that effort, is debatable...we still have some very good teams coming up and won't really know where this team is, until they are played out. This team has not looked good, has not played up to their potential, we all know that, we all see that, but they are still close.......a few players away from playing with the big boys......but there are also a few major decisions that need to be made, does this group (Pagano-Grigson and the rest of the staff) have what it takes to finish the monster.......10-20 years from now, fans of every team in the league will say, we need to do what the Colts are doing, because they have the bluebrint for sucess...............long term.
I must add that when I say sucess- I mean championships-multiple championships, the Colts have been very sucessfull, since Manning came on board, but the championships have been limited- because the p***'s have, what we are trying to get.