Sometimes you wake up in the morning to find that your new puppy has crapped all over the floor. This is acceptable because puppies can be hard to train. When your 10 year old dog does it, you get worried because it may well mean a trip to vet to put him down. Indianapolis’ old dog, Bob Kravitz did a deuce in the middle of the living room shag last night, and has left all of us to deal with the stink.
Rex Kravitz, has questioned today whether or not Bob Sanders is worth the money the Colts signed him for. Bob’s argument, backed by two statistics is seemingly sound. He says that the Colts have a virtually identical record with and with out the Zombie as well as posting exactly the same yards per game on D with and with him.
The problem is that Kravitz is flat wrong. The win/loss stat is interesting, but not entirely relevant. Bob Sanders has routinely been used only in the biggest, toughest, most important games of the season. 2006 may seem like an easy rallying cry, but largely because it proves the point. Bob missed almost the entire season, but randomly came back for a game in the middle of the schedule. At New England. That day he had 11 tackles (8 solo) and a pick. The Colts won at the Pats, and that win gave them home field advantage for the AFC Championship game. Indy went 3-1 with the Zombie, 9-3 without him. Same winning percentage. Ah but, no one who knows anything about the 06 Colts thinks that they played the same. Most importantly, he return for the playoffs (coupled with the gelling of Rob Morris who replaced Gilbert “the Human Sieve” Gardner which Rex dutifully notes) lifted the Indy to a level where it beat three smash mouth running teams in 4 games, just a month after getting left for dead by the side of a road in Jacksonville. Because Bob is often hurt, the Colts tend to use him judiciously. When he comes back, it’s because they really need him to win a game they don’t feel they can without him. Hence, their record with him may look the same, but often the games he plays in are much tougher than the random date with the Bengals. (Ironically, he may play this week, but only because Brackett and Dawson’s injuries, have left the Colts desperate. If everyone was healthy, it would be wise to sit Sanders and keep him fresh.)
In 2007, Bob Sanders played the entire year, and managed to lift the Colts to the best defensive performance they’ve had for a season in a long time. He did this despite the fact that Dwight Freeney got hurt midseason AND Robert Mathis missed time. He was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year because he and Gary Brackett were the chewing gum and bailing wire that held the ship together. The only other year in recent memory that the defense was so dominant was 2005…when Bob Sanders played 14 games.
As far as 2008 goes, the injuries on all levels make it very difficult to compare stats from one game to another. The Colts defense played several games without Hayden, without Jackson, and without Sanders in one combination or another. Perhaps the best question to ask is in the three games Indy lost without Bob Sanders, would their odds of winning have increased? If Bob Sanders plays, do the Colts still lose on a last second field goal to the Jags? If Bob Sanders plays, does the Colts defense complete fold in the fourth quarter to the Titans? Obviously, it is impossible to know, but both seem unlikely to me.
Bob Sanders is a ‘put you over the top’ player. He’s too expensive a hood ornament if you are driving a beat up 1979 Chevy Impala. But he’s extra juice in the tank if you have a team that can legitimately contend for the Super Bowl. Can the Colts afford Bob Sanders if he only plays part time? As long as they pretend to be title contenders they can. We all wish that he played more. But it’s only been 2 years since his return from the grave brought glory to Indianapolis. It’s amazing that Kravitz’s memory is so painfully short.
In a year when injuries have crippled the Colts and the only hope for a long run in January is for players to come back and get healthy, questioning Bob Sanders makes little sense. The Colts aren’t ‘struggling’ at 8-4 because they made bad roster moves (perhaps Lilja over Scott, but that has little to do with Sanders), but rather because players aren’t healthy. What could Indy possibly spend money on that would add more wins when it counts than Bob Sanders? What player could possibly do what he does? Bob doesn’t like the signing. Fine. Name the free agent Indy could have signed last year that would have made them a better team this year than BOB FREAKING SANDERS.
The key to Kravitz error is this line:
In today’s NFL, nobody can afford this kind of long-term salary cap hit for a part-time player.
No, Bob, in YESTERDAY’S NFL no one could afford the salary cap hit. With the salary cap era likely to come to a rapid close this year, it’s hilarious that Kravitz would whine about the cap now. With the collective bargaining agreement in tatters, and the union swearing it will never allow the cap to come back, the Colts are likely entering the very last year of the salary cap in 2009. Indy will find a way under the cap next year, and after that, it probably doesn’t matter any more. Kravitz is so myopic that he wrote a column ignoring both the immediate past (2006) and the immediate future (2010).
Where’s a rolled up newspaper when you need one? I’ll have to use classifieds, because he dumped all over sports.
Simmons slightly overstates things regarding the Colts, but his lines about the Jags are priceless.
If this column were Jack Del Rio, every Jaguar would have quit reading it by now.
Pete Prisco makes a ridiculous argument. He says the 5 Giants linemen are the MVP. Hmmm, so Pete, you think 5 players are more valuable than one? Yeah, me too. But the award isn’t for the five most valuable players on one team. If it were, Peyton Manning, Robert Mathis, and Dwight Freeney would beat any five other players in football by themselves. Pick ONE PLAYER or else it’s not an MVP award.
Adam Schien says #18 is #1. Yeah, me too.