It’s the offseason, so stuff that would normally show up in the Links gets shoved to the front page.
Today, take some time and be sure to read Mike Tanier’s Walkthrough. Consistently the single best weekly NFL feature not featuring the number 18, Tanier’s piece this week focus on the Colts Achilies Heel…the Special Teams. Later he addresses Colts’ fans directly.
The return game was also a problem in 2008, when the Colts ranked 28th in the league in kick returns and last in punt returns. They were 22nd in kick returns in 2007, and while they were sixth in punt returns that year, a 90-yard touchdown had a disproportionate effect on their average because they returned just 25 punts all season. Remove it, and their average drops from 11.2 to 7.9, which is still pretty good by the Colts standards. Rushing and others also call for a high number of fair catches, which don’t appear in the return averages.
The Colts can live with weak return units because their offense is incredible. But imagine if they took back a few precious yards of field position. The average Colts drive in 2009 started on the 27.0-yard line, the third-worst field position in the league. (The Raiders and Titans wore worse). The league median is 29.5, two-and-a-half yards away. Give Peyton Manning 2.5 more yards, and short field goals become touchdowns, while punts from midfield become field goals.
In other words, if the Colts can keep everything else equal while quickly upgrading their return game, they will return to the Super Bowl next year, and probably win it.
You have the power to decide what you will find satisfying or intolerable. The more things you find satisfying, the more satisfied you’ll be. It’s a pretty simple concept. It applies to everything: your career, your neighborhood, your marriage, and your fan experience.
If only a Super Bowl win will satisfy you, you will be dissatisfied, on average, by 96.875 percent of all your team’s seasons. If that Super Bowl only brings you fleeting joy, you are in bad shape, because it may be the only one you will experience in your lifetime. If you can find the joy in other accomplishments — a Super Bowl loss, a 13-3 season, an ordinary win on an ordinary Sunday — then your fan experience will be much more rewarding. If you cannot, that’s your prerogative
There’s much more in there. Read it. Chew it up. Tanier is a friend to 18to88, and we wrote him to praise his original blasting of a certain strain of Horse Faithful. He’s the smartest, funniest guy out there, and his work is especially worth reading this week.