Let’s talk about football, shall we?
Remember that game with a brown ball played on a striped field?
Now that the Colts have completed the regular season (chuckle, chuckle), it’s time to look potential pitfalls come playoff time. The Colts are a very good team. They may be an all time great team. They are not a flawless team. In January, anything can go wrong, and one bad break can end your season. That being said, some things are more likely to go wrong than others. Here are the top five areas that could be exploited come January.
1. Field Goal Kicking
This is the only true glaring and obvious weakness. Right now, no one knows if the Colts have anyone who can reliably make a 46 yard field goal. We’ve already lost two playoff games this decade on blown field goals, and another could kill me. The upside is that it makes the Colts more likely to go for it on fourth and medium in no man’s land. That could be a benefit, but when it comes to end of half and end of game scenarios, the Colts need 10 yards more than most teams. They have to aim for the 25, not the 35. It hasn’t hurt them yet, but it could. It wouldn’t be the first time our hearts were broken by a kicker. It wouldn’t be the second time…or the third come to that (2004 Opening Day @ NE). Everyone ought to be very nervous about this.
2. The Offensive Tackles
If the Colts are going to be exploited, it’s going to be because one of the tackles has a bad game. I know that they have been solid in pass protection this year, but both Diem and Johnson have looked shaky at times, and Johnson still has not managed to be effective in run blocking. I can see a situation where a team comes in and confuses CJ and gets sacks. This is not nearly as big a concern as the kicker situation, but it’s still high on the board. Before the season, I said I thought there was a limit to where this team could go with CJ as left tackle. That’s proven to be false during the regular season. I hope I’m still just as wrong a month from now. I’d be thrilled.
3. The Young Wideouts
Collie seems to have everything figured out, but the playoffs can be a whole different deal. Garcon has been all over the map this year, alternating spectacular games with horrid ones. If you were to tell me that the WRs were to vanish in January, it wouldn’t be hard for me to believe you. Manning is going to come their way. They have to be open, and they have to make the catches. Should Garcon not be able to go or if someone gets hurt, it’ll be Baskett time, and no one wants that. Again, these ‘weaknesses’ are getting progressively less scary every time, aren’t they?
4. Don Brown
His injury was unfortunate because he needs time to figure out how to run behind the Indy line. He’s a true X-factor because he could go either way in January. He could wind up with a crushing 5 yard loss to kill a drive, or could be the hero who randomly takes a 3 yard run on 2nd and 10 to the house for a 50 yard TD. He could pick up a key third down, or blow a critical block. He’s still learning how to play in the Colts’ offense. He could do some incredible things as Dom Rhodes Jr, but honestly, he scares me.
5. Jim Caldwell
Jim has been calm and courageous all season. He’s stuck to his guns and done most things (cough) correctly. Now it’s playoff time, and he is going to have to have the guts to go for the tough fourth downs. I hope he doesn’t learn the hard way that going for it on fourth and 3 from the 45 is what it takes to win Super Bowls. After the first game, Indy is going to play some prodigious offenses. Field position will become a meaningless term in the Luke in January against Rivers or Brady. Going for it is the only option. Jim’s been great (as have a lot of guys on this list), but it’s time to do it in January. Everything he does will be scrutinized more closely than ever. Hold on tight, Jimmy C. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Note what isn’t on here anywhere: The Defense
The reason I have supreme confidence in this team is because I’m 100% in the tank for the 2009 Colts Defense. I believe that with Mathis and Powers playing, we are going to see a true shut down group. My gut tells me they don’t allow 21 points to any opponent this entire postseason. That includes the Chargers and the Patriots. Every kick freaks me out, but when the D is on the field, I rest easy. Having all the top CBs together for the first time in a month while having Freeney and Mathis both as close to 100% as possible is going to be a sight to behold.