January 06, 2007

Colts advance, thanks to... their D?: A defense that hasn't held anyone below 100 on the year holds one of the best backs in the league to 32 yards on 13 carries, and the whole team to 151.

posted by Bernreuther to football at 08:28 PM - 21 comments

I didn't link to the AP recap because it is, without question, the worst piece of journalism I have ever seen from the AP. The recap, as well as an entire article critical of Manning's performance, were written by a reporter with an obvious axe to grind, and were far more biased and far less professional than should be acceptable for such an organization. Say what you will about the AP (I've never found them to be worthy of too much criticism) but I've always thought their goal was to keep it simple, professional, and unbiased. The Colts D deserves a lot of credit for the way they played today - as one Chiefs fan noted in the bathroom at halftime "you can only listen to the entire national media calling you pussies for so long before you finally explode and do something about it." Bob Sanders the safety isn't a savior, but he seems to bring a whole new attitude to the defense with him. And it's amazing what a difference good tackling makes. I thought Peyton made some really bad decisions, 6 in total on 39 dropbacks, and it drove me nuts that the D had 6 consecutive 3 and outs and the game was still in question, but it was hardly worthy of an entire article that calls him out as a scrub. I mean, he was still 30 for 38, which is pretty good, even though it often looked like a west coast offense. (Also, to say that 2 of his playoff wins came against lesser Chiefs teams is a bit off, since they were the #1 seed in 2003.) The Ravens will present a much, much tougher challenge, but I'm not among those who think that Manning is going to be a liability. (I realize the irony of me editorializing here to complain about the AP doing the same. I apologize. At least I left it off the FPPAm I overreacting? How'd the game look to non-biased fans out there on TV?)

posted by Bernreuther at 08:40 PM on January 06, 2007

Sorry, can't edit. To clarify, I thought it was Manning's worst game of the season. But isn't it the newspaper columnists and TV talking heads' job, not the AP's, to talk about that?

posted by Bernreuther at 08:56 PM on January 06, 2007

The Colts are a tough team to figure out. Just when it seems they can't stop anyone on the ground, they stop one of the premier rushers in the league cold. That being said, KC, just like the Steelers, may have been better off this season sticking with their backup QBs. Trent Green wasn't going to beat anyone, and his mere presence allowed Indy to focus more on the run this week. The Chiefs should have put Green on IR for the remainder of the year after his serious head injury.

posted by dyams at 07:25 AM on January 07, 2007

He did look awfully bad out there. In his defense, he had a defensive end or a Booger in his face on every passing down, and there were a few drops. I thought both D lines got excellent pressure. In the first half the Chiefs were winning battles and getting to Manning a lot faster than normal. Football Outsiders has a great breakdown of some tape showing that the stock line of "we had some missed assignments" is actually quite true. Yesterday everyone seemed to be in their proper gap, and everyone was swarming to the ball. And Booger had his best game as a Colt. It was quite a bit different from the rest of the year. The question becomes: can they do it again next week? It'll be hard to have the same kind of chip on their shoulder.

posted by Bernreuther at 09:34 AM on January 07, 2007

That was by far one of the Colts' best defensive games of the season, and one of the worst by their offense. Manning was atrocious, and Ty Law has his number.

posted by wingnut4life at 10:16 AM on January 07, 2007

Surely, not one of Manning's best games, but some of those interceptions didn't really look like Manning's fault. Manning and Harrison do not seem to be on the same page and had some disastrous miscommunications. Of course, it didn't matter much because KC could do nothing on offense.

posted by bperk at 11:22 AM on January 07, 2007

It's the playoffs, when things get truly weird. That's all I can say about that game. People say Manning is a playoff choker. I don't know if he does have some kind of head-thing going on where the playoffs are concerned, but while he doesn't seem to relish the pressure the way that, say, Tom Brady does, he doesn't appear to have playoff butterflies, either (which I think we did see from the other three teams that played yesterday, and maybe especially from Green and KC). Overthinking this is probably the Colts' biggest danger at this point; if Manning can clean up the picks, that D could take them very deep indeed.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:31 AM on January 07, 2007

I wouldn't read too much into the defensive outing by the Colts. The analysts are gushing about the performance and saying the other teams better watch out, but the K.C. offense has been too unstable all season. Actually, it's been that way for two seasons now. Instead of upgrading the quality of their line, they primarily use one of the best tight ends in the game as a blocker. A blocker! Would San Diego do that? As for Johnson being shut down, not once this season did he rush for 100 or more yards when he had fewer than 20 carries (he reminds me lately a lot of Eddie George.) Arizona held him in check earlier in the season. That's why I can't get too excited about Indy (I do like the team though and wouldn't mind seeing them go deep.)

posted by forrestv at 12:51 PM on January 07, 2007

It continues to amaze me that people are critical of Manning. He completed 79% of his passes again Kansas City. If Manning gets ripped again for not winning a Super Bowl in his relatively few years in the league I can't image what kind of hell Dan Marino went through. On a new subject, the NFL Rookie of the Year. It went to a quarterback with a 68% efficiency rating. It should have gone to Joseph Addai. He was in the top ten rushing with far fewer rushes than anybody in the top ten. Apparently you now need to be a happy footed, lousy armed quarterback to be recognized for any of the post season awards.

posted by BlindAlvin at 03:38 PM on January 07, 2007

Part of the reason why Manning looked so bad was the Chiefs scheme; they took away Harrison and Wade for the most part, forcing the Colts to throw underneath. Then, in the red zone, they pretty much ignored the run and played a zone that forced the Colts to either run or swing the ball to the flats. I've been watching KC all year since I live in Missouri and am forced to watch them or nothing at all, and while not extremely talented on the defensive side of the ball, they are pretty aggressive. The offense hasn't changed one whit since the Vermeil years and there's a lot of internal strife. There is no way that Herm Edwards has the personality to ever take this team deep into the playoffs. I think the Colts may struggle against Baltimore, but I do think Peyton will have more opportunities to throw to his wide-outs. The Ravens will probably win, but if the Colts defense can play as well as they did yesterday, it could be interesting.

posted by Broncobob at 08:08 PM on January 07, 2007

I cannot believe a word that Herm says anymore. Early in the week he was asked if Trent came out and did not play well if he would put Damon in? He responded that he would no doubt put him in because this is the playoffs and "you play to win the game." At half time we we down 9-0 and Trent was playing like the wounded man he is, still scared for his life and afraid to stand in and be hit (not unlike many quarterbacks but I wont get started on that) and Herm runs him back out to throw two more picks and fumble away the last chance we had. Now I dont believe Huard is the future of this team and there are more problems than just that but Herm has no credibility with the fans now and I dont think the players are buying his BS either. Its time to FIRE HERM!! I know its one season but he did nothing to improve his teams chances to win the game.

posted by CHIEF FAN at 11:00 PM on January 07, 2007

Absolutely, Chief Fan, you and Larry Johnson can both jump on Herm for losing that game. Execution obviously had nothing to do with the Chiefs loss. Herm should have been hitting the gap harder and breaking some tackles.

posted by bperk at 07:33 AM on January 08, 2007

Colts will win it all

posted by antwan at 09:29 AM on January 08, 2007

bperk, you're right that herm can't make plays but only call them. that being said, who doesn't go downfield ONCE in the ENTIRE FIRST HALF against a team stacked so tight in the box that there were quite literally no gaps? Also, to criticize LJ for not breaking tackles is all well and good, but it would have been nice to get to run once or twice for two yards before 3 guys hit you. With a defense that doesn't even need to consider the idea that you are going deep, why shouldn't you stack the line? How many backs, even great ones, who get hit at the line of scrimmage by three guys consistently gain good yardage; not many i bet. I won't go as far as you do Chief Fan; i think Herm can be the guy for kc, but he does need to shoulder a lot of this blame IMO. i hope KC scraps a lot of their baggage in the offseason and starts over. Get a YOUNG quarterback, and continue to improve the defense. They will probably have to suffer through a few years of sucking with a still developing defense and a young offensive leader, but for them to really move forward, i think some housecleaning might be in order. Except for Will shields; he'll be making the probowl for us when he is 80.

posted by brainofdtrain at 09:44 AM on January 08, 2007

you're right that herm can't make plays but only call them. that being said, who doesn't go downfield ONCE in the ENTIRE FIRST HALF against a team stacked so tight in the box that there were quite literally no gaps? I think they were trying, unsuccessfully, to get things going. They weren't getting any first downs. Green was getting pressured. He was unable to complete even short passes. I find it hard to fault the play calling for not gambling on the long play when they couldn't get anything at all going and Green was already under pressure with little time to complete passes.

posted by bperk at 10:09 AM on January 08, 2007

If Manning gets ripped again for not winning a Super Bowl in his relatively few years in the league I can't image what kind of hell Dan Marino went through. Manning's been in the league for nearly a decade now, and he's had a true embarrassment of offensive riches around him for most of that time. I watched him lose to Florida four years in a row...lost in Knoxville, lost in Gainesville. After he leaves UT, Tee Martin takes over at QB and leads the Vols to a National Championship. Until he wins a game that truly matters in the postseason, Manning's qualities as a leader on the field will be questioned, and rightly so. As a Dolphins fan, it still baffles me that Dan Marino only got one trip to the Super Bowl, but that can be blamed largely on the coaching/personnel staff not building a running game or defense to go along with the gaudy offense. Peyton can't use that excuse. He's been given a potent running game nearly every year, and the defense has been retooled extensively over the past few years. Where else do you look, besides number 18?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:56 AM on January 08, 2007

Well, you look at the defense, obviously. It wouldn't need extensive retooling if it was any good.

posted by Bernreuther at 11:27 AM on January 08, 2007

bperk, good points. One very important fact that i forgot to mention that counts in greens favor was that his receivers dropped at least five passes (i'm almost positive that's the # of drops in the 1st half alone), which would make it tough to want to go deep. While i see your points (they really are good ones), i still think that the playcalling has to shoulder a decent amount of the responsibility here. I say this b/c if the 1st fifteen yards past the line of scrimmage is swarming with colts who are definitely looking run 1st, i don't see anyother way of "calling the dogs off" so to speak, other than taking some shots deep. While i see the logic in saying that if you can't complete short ones, why go long, i think that part of the reason why short passes weren't working was that there were three Colts around each receiver. If they couldv'e at least shown the Colts they were willing to go deep, the Colts have to loosen up a bit or they will get the ball thrown over their heads. KC gave them NO REASON to even consider the possibility. Result: more short passes in the midst of blue jerseyus and nowhere for LJ to run. You are right about the protection, but it doesn't take much time to catch a shotgun snap, pump left, then air out a "go" route to Kennison (about 2-3 seconds, which he had more than once). I believe that the Chiefs made little effort to force the colts out of their gameplan, which was to clamp down the 1st 10-15 yards from scrimmage and force Green to beat them deep. I don't want to take anything away from the colts, they played a great game. Also, receivers need to catch open looks, and LJ should break some tackles, but i think the Chief's gameplan (drawn up by the coaches) played right into the Colts d-strategy, and it wasn't altered very much. To me that is a coaching failure. While it may have led to a 3 and out at the time, it would have forced the colts to loosen up, giving them a better chance the rest of the game.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:49 AM on January 08, 2007

I don't know that a change of game plan would have helped any. Green isn't a great quarterback when he doesn't get protection. He wasn't getting protection and had a terrible day. Wide receivers were dropping passes (including Gonzalez). Larry Johnson couldn't get going. The scheme was the scheme that they had all year. They just didn't execute. I do think that the coaching staff should have done something, anything (maybe benching Green). However when you watched them on the goal line come away with nothing, it is hard for me to blame that on the coaches. Further, the coaches did a fantastic job with the defense. So, I just want to temper some of the blame-the-whole-loss-on-Herm that seems to be going around.

posted by bperk at 12:28 PM on January 08, 2007

Well, you look at the defense, obviously. Was the defense responsible for the Colts' 2004 playoff defeat? Manning threw four picks in that game, a 24-14 loss to the Patriots. I'm sure Indy partisans will be quick to remind me that the mean old Pats manhandled their recievers all game, but never fear Colts fans, Bill Polian got the bump rule re-interpreted for the next season so that kind of thing could never happen again. Surely all would be well in future playoffs, as long as the Indy defense doesn't blow it... Was the defense responsible for the Colts' 2005 playoff defeat? Manning couldn't even muster a single touchdown pass in a 20-3 loss in Foxborough. Paging the competition committee, something must be done about this outrage! Get some new defenders in here stat, this can't be Peyton's fault... Was the defense responsible for the Colts' 2006 playoff defeat? The obvious goat is Vanderjagt, who missed what would have been a game-tying field goal, but the great Manning threw two incomplete passes before the FG attempt. 46 yards is not a gimme. Meanwhile, only a desperate tackle by Roethlisberger kept Nick Harper - an Indy CB - from scoring the winning touchdown. Of course, the Colts wouldn't have been in position to win OR tie if Troy Polamalu's fourth quarter interception hadn't been incorrectly reversed. Yes, this loss was obviously due to the incompetence of the defense...

posted by Venicemenace at 12:34 PM on January 08, 2007

OK, let's entirely blame the QB for losing two games they weren't favored to win, and also the game where he nearly brought them back to win after being absolutely dominated in the first half by the suddenly pass-wacky Pittsburgh offense. He played like shit against a superior New England team, and pretty damn well against Pittsburgh. Was alsofault that they gave up 41 to the Jets in 03? I'm not saying that it's wrong to put some blame on him, but there hasn't been a championship caliber D there either. Hence my simple and logical statement that you wouldn't be constantly attempting to retool the D if it was as good as it needed to be in the first place.

posted by Bernreuther at 05:38 PM on January 08, 2007

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