Taking Stock

I couldn’t be happier with the game.  That’s the kind of put-it-all-together football we haven’t seen from this team since the early part of 2007.  When training camp opened, we had visions of this kind of team…dominant on offense, cruel on defense, competent on special teams.  Last night was revelatory.  Please put any minor details or criticisms in that context.  There are no complaints today, just observations.  These are my completely gut reactions from last night’s game.

Reasons to Smile:

  • The pass pro was great, aside from the one play where Pollack got beat, and Manning was hit as he threw.  Listen, it’s officially time to stop worrying about Charlie Johnson at left tackle.  He’s been absolutely acceptable.  I don’t gauge this on the lack of sacks.  Manning was rarely sacked last year, but his YPA was the third lowest of his career.  This year, he clearly feels comfortable enough to take deep shots downfield.  He’s looking deep, so I’m happy.  CJ, I apologize.  I doubted you.  You are getting the job done.  I was wrong.  I don’t mind saying that at all.  I don’t know if you are the answer, but you are an answer, and I can live with that.  CJ has already been better than I thought he could be.
  • 12 carries.  24 yards.  One fumble.  That’s ok, I guess.  Melvin Bullitt is Baby Bob.  Last week, his play was erratic and you could see that we still very much need Sanders to be healthy, but if he was your team’s real starting safety, you could live with him and win with him.
  • The run game is officially competent.  This actually goes hand in hand with #1.  It was beautiful to watch Addai run the stretch left last night.  Going into the game the Colts were last in the league running around left end, but that seems to have been patched up.  Addai has now had back to back good YPC games.  Don’t look now Addai haters, but his YPC is better than Don Brown’s 3.8 to 3.4.  Seriously, everyone needs to stop begging for Addai to get benched.
  • Speaking of Don Brown…he’s pretty good.  You can see he’s still figuring out the run game some, and I actually think Addai is visibly running more effectively, but Brown has that big play burst that is tantilizing.  He’s still kind of boom/bust, which isn’t what works best in the NFL, but I think that will come.  We’ll have to keep an eye on his “success rate”
  • The young receivers played wonderfully.  Last night was the kind of game I wanted to see in order to fully buy into them.  I never denied that they were talented or that they were ahead of the curve, just that they were good enough to make the offense truly fearsome.  Now, I can buy it.  Last night they combined for 6 catches for 111 yards and a score.  That’s almost as many catches and MORE yards than they had in the first two games combined.  They caught balls thrown more than 3 yards past the LoS.  Garcon is clearly a freakish weapon waiting to happen, and Collie did enough early to open things up for the other guys.  Very impressive game to say the least, and it was a huge step up from weeks 1 and 2.  It was interesting to hear Collinsworth say that Collie and Manning did one on one work all week to prepare.  You could see a difference in the confidence level.
  • Jim Caldwell took a major step forward with this win.  I felt that he was too conservative during the game, but I almost always think that.  Having said that, however, the Colts’ offensive game plan and thought process was aggressive and innovative.  There were lots of reasons the Colts could have chalked this game up as a loss and blamed Monday night’s game.  Instead, they showed the same killer instinct they did under Dungy.  This team couldn’t look any identical to previous Colts squads.  That’s to Caldwell’s credit for sure.
  • Pat McAfee.  Wow, great kickoff work..  Again, three games is way too soon to judge anything, but can you ask for anything more out of a draft than Polian gave us this year?  Ironically, the thing we were most excited about (the DTs) is the only thing to show no results so far.  Amazing.
  • Kurt Warner just got sacked again as I write this.  Dwight Freeney ran him down in a wheel chair.
  • Revenge for Edge James.  That makes me happy, what can I say?

Reasons to Frown:

  • Garcon played wonderfully, but picked up two more penalties.  That gives him 5 in three games.  The official numbers say four, but that doesn’t count the illegal formation penalty that he caused on Monday (which technically wasn’t on him because there weren’t enough men on the line, even though it was his responsibility to be there).  Collie’s little give up short of the first down was weak.  These are talented young men who are playing well, but mistakes aren’t hard to find either.
  • The third and one play early was not blocked well at all.  I didn’t like the play call, and there was just no place for Addai to go.
  • AV.  Let’s face it.  We are all concerned.

Best Call:

The end around to Clark on third and one.  We all love that play and it’s a real tendency breaker.  That was an exciting game plan.

Worst Call:

Not challenging the spot on the Addai catch on third down.  I would have gone for it anyway, rather than kick, but not challenging didn’t make sense.  There was no downside; considering the lead, losing a timeout was not going to hurt any.

Best Play:

Reggie Wayne’s TD catch.  He may never make a better play.  How good is this guy?  He was always going to be remembered as a great Colt, but he’s becoming something else before our eyes this year.  Stunning.

Worst Play:

Pollack Saturday allowing pressure on Manning as he threw.  It looked like Peyton had Wayne breaking free deep for a touch down, but instead it turned into his second pick of the year.

Reasons I’m Flying:

  • A two game division lead after three weeks.  The rest of the AFC South is 2-9 and both wins came in the division.  I know there were some tough games early, but please.  That’s just weak.
  • I had this game marked as a loss on the schedule from the start. The other three losses I marked:  @ Tenn, @ Hou, @ Buff (because it wouldn’t count for anything). This team could post a 13-3 or 14-2 kind of mark real easily.  Anytime you ‘win a game you shouldn’t’ it’s big.  Considering that Indy almost never has those kinds of games in the first place, it’s doubly big.
  • Peyton Manning’s YPA is up.  WAY up.  He’s going to have a monster year.
  • This team has a championship attitude.  The defense shrugged off every possible excuse and played an incredible game (their second in three games).
  • Our next three opponents are a combined 1-8.  Our first three opponents?  2-7.  Murders’ Row it ain’t. This is only significant because this team has already showed it’s not the kind of club that’s going to go out and stink because they overlooked someone.
  • This team is missing MAJOR stars.  Gonzalez, Brackett, Hayden, Sanders.  Those aren’t just warm bodies.  To get wins with guys like that on the sidelines…

Reasons I’m Dying:

  • “I heard something pop”.  No Brackett AND no Freeney.  I just threw up in my mouth.  We have to hope it’s not serious

The Bottom Line:

Yes, we don’t know how good the Cardinals are.  And yes, they played an awful game.  They were sloppy and stupid.  I don’t care.  When you beat a team on six days rest on the road, it’s a good win.  When you blow them off the field in every possible way, it’s a great win.  I’m astounded at the job Caldwell did to get this team fresh and healthy enough to go out there and dominate last night.  That’ll buy him a few punts on fourth and inches in my book any day.  Arizona was a perfect matchup for the Colts on paper, but they had enough natural advantages to win that game.  Their two turnovers (especially the Warner pick) in the red zone were unforgivably bad. In the end, everything they had to do they didn’t do, and everything Indy had to do, they did (go back and read that again.  I know picked the Colts to lose, but the key issues were all right there).

Seattle is up next.  It’s time to take care of business at home and generate serious momentum going into the big game at the Titans.

 

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