5 Myths About the Colts

A lot of people like to talk trash about the Colts.  That’s fine.  What drives me nuts is people throwing out ‘facts’ about the Horse without having the real information.  Here are 5 of the most common myths about our team coupled with the truth.

 

Myth 1:  Tony Dungy is a defensive coach first

Propagated by: Just about everyone, but here’s a link in particular.

Why it seems true: The argument is that Tony Dungy was a defensive player, defensive coach, defensive coordinator, defensive innovator, so he must be a defensive head coach first.

Why it’s false: Dungy’s mindset has never been defense first. He is a complete head coach who has proved he is capable of winning in a variety of ways. True, when with the Tampa Bay Bucs, he built a team into a perennial contender based almost exclusively on defense. Then he took over the Colts and built a perennial contender based almost exclusively on offense. Peyton Manning himself was worried about Dungy coming in an changing the Colts aggressive offense, but in fact he got a head coach who had run the very same offense the Colts run today as a college quarterback at Minnesota. Dungy’s team priorities are:

Top 5 in turnover ratio (affects both sides of the ball)
Top 5 in fewest penalties (both sides of the ball)
Top 5 in Special Teams
Make big plays (offense)
Don’t give up big plays (defense)

Verdict: Tony’s strategies and focus are based on having a balanced team with offense, defense and special teams all working well. He managed to successfully coach teams built to favor one or the other, but his goal has always been a balance between offense and defense.

 

Myth 2: Peyton Manning always choked in the playoffs before 2006

Propagated by: Bill Simmons, Terry Bradshaw, and many others

Why it seems true: The Colts lost Manning’s first 3 post-season games. In all three, the Colts offense scored below its season average.

Why it’s false: This is a case of blaming the quarterback for all losses by a team. If you look at the three games in question, you realize that Manning is not to blame for the losses.

Game 1: Tennessee @ Indianapolis 19-16-So many things went wrong in this game; to just blame Manning is ridiculous. To begin with, EG Green broke his leg early in the game after a long reception. He was on the field for 10-15 minutes, and it killed the momentum the Colts had early. Secondly, so many Titans fans showed up that the Colts had trouble running their redzone offense because of a block of about 10,000 Titans fans in one end zone. Thirdly, the Colts had a long return down to the 4 called back on replay because Terrence Wilkins had a foot out of bounds. Finally, Edgerrin James had 20 carries for only 56 yards, a 2.6 ypc average. He lead the league in rushing, but couldn’t do jack on this day. Compare his stat line with that of Eddie George:

Tennessee

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

Eddie George

26

162

6.2

68t

1

Indianapolis

ATT

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

Edgerrin James

20

56

2.8

14

0

Simmons complained recently that Manning didn’t throw a TD pass in that game.  It’s true, but he did have a clutch 15 yard TD run to keep the Colts hopes alive with a minute to play.

Compare the stat line for McNair and Manning on that day:

Tennessee

CMP

ATT

PCT

YDS

LNG

YPA

TD

INT

SCK

LOSS

RAT

Steve Mcnair

13

24

54.2

112

26

4.67

0

0

0

0

66.7

Indianapolis

CMP

ATT

PCT

YDS

LNG

YPA

TD

INT

SCK

LOSS

RAT

Peyton Manning

19

43

44.2

227

33

5.28

0

0

0

0

60.9

They had very similar days. Quarterbacks aren’t always responsible for a team’s wins and losses. On that day in January 2000, the running backs decided the day. There were lots of reasons the Colts lost that game, but blaming it on Manning has to be pretty far down the list.

Game 2: Miami 23-Colts 17 OT – THERE IS NO WAY THIS GAME WAS MANNING’S FAULT. Start with the fact that Manning’s numbers were decent (82 rating, 1 TD 0 INT), add to it the fact that Jerome Pathon dropped a TD pass in the first half that cost the Colts 4 points. Continue thinking about the defense that gave up the lead late. Think about all that you still don’t have the full story. On 3rd 10 from the Miami 41 in OT, Manning hit Harrison for a 9 yard strike to the 31. There was a 5 yard penalty on the play, so Jim Mora had a series of choices:

  1. Take the 5 yard penalty to the 36 and face 3rd and 5.
  2. Decline the penalty and kick a 49 yard FG to win the game
  3. Decline the penalty and go for it on 4th and 1.

Mora chose option 2, thinking that Mike Vanderjagt would win the game. Vandy shanked the ball so far right that you had to wonder what set of goal posts he was aiming at. Miami got the ball back and rammed it down the defense for a TD and the win. Manning played great in this game (as did Edge). You can blame Pathon, the defense, Mora, Vandy, whoever, but only a moron would say that Manning lost them this game.

Game 3: Jets 41-Colts 0-Simmons went over and over this game and how it was Manning’s fault.  Let’s recall the drive chart:
NYJ-first drive TD (7-0)
IND-first drive missed FG (thanks again Vandy)
NYJ-Second drive FG (10-0)
IND-Second drive-fumbled kickoff
NYJ-Third drive TD (17-0)

Before Manning ever got the ball back a second time (and remember that he drove the team downfield on the first possession), the Colts were losing 17-0. HOW WAS THIS HIS FAULT? He had nothing to do with any of those points. Again, only an idiot would say that the Colts lost this game because Manning choked. Since 1972 NO TEAM has come back from 17 down on the road. How can you say that Manning choked when his team put him in an impossible position? He did throw two ints in that game. ..IN THE FOURTH QUARTER WHEN THEY WERE DOWN 30. There was no choke here, at least not by Peyton.

Manning has had three other playoff losses. In 2003, he legitimately stank in the AFC Championship game (in the snow, on the road, against a great defense and an officiating crew that was determined never to call illegal contact). This was on the heels of two of the most brilliant postseason games by a QB ever. In 2004, Manning played fine against the Pats, but two fumbles by WRs deep in Patriots territory doomed the offense. Against Pittsburg, Manning barely had time to breathe, but still almost brought the Colts back from the brink (except for a ‘rare’ miss from Vanderjagt).

Verdict: In 3 of Manning’s 6 postseason losses, Vanderjagt missed key field goals. Yes, before 06, he was 3-6 in the playoffs. If he had had a better kicker, he would likely have been 5-4 or better. Bad luck is not choking. Good luck (tuck rule) isn’t being great. Only simpletons confuse these things.

 

Myth 3: Dwight Freeney is a liability on run defense

Propagated by: Vic Ketchman and others

Why it seems true: Freeney flies up field so fast that surely he’s terrible against the run. The Colts have a bad run D. It must be because their best D lineman can’t play the run.

Why it’s false:  As shown by this article the Colts were incredibly successful in stopping runs at Freeney. As the article points out, this isn’t all on Dwight. There are several factors:

  1. Freeney is deep in the backfield so fast that runs to his side get blown up.
  2. The Colts have a speed defense, so if you run wide on them, you run to their strength. The linebackers flow well left and right, so if you ran outside at Freeney, the LBs cleaned up the play quite well
  3. It was way too freaking easy to run right up the gut. Bulk can negate speed if you run right at it, so that’s what teams did.

Verdict: Freeney’s rush style is not the reason the Colts D is bad. He has always played the run well. When he rushes madly up field, that is a coaching decision designed to disrupt offensive rhythm. In the Colts D, it’s the LBs who have to play the run well.

 

Myth 4: The Colts are a dome team who struggles on the road

Propagated by: I’ll leave myself open to charges of ‘straw man’, but I swear I hear it every year come playoff time

Why it seems true: The Colts lost 4 straight postseason games on the road from 2000-2004

Why it’s false: Since Dungy came to Indy, here’s the Colts road records each year-

2002 5-3 (0-1 in the post season)
2003 7-1 (1-1 in the post season)
2004 5-3 (0-1 in the post season) *this includes a loss at Denver to end the season when the Colts rested their starters
2005 7-1 *This includes a loss at Seattle when the Colts rested their starters
2006 4-4 (1-0 in the post season) *this doesn’t include the win in the Super Bowl in the rain on a neutral field

Verdict: During the regular season in the Dungy era, the Colts have gone 28-12 on the road. This includes 2 games they didn’t even try to win. In the playoffs in this span, they’ve gone 2-3 on the road. If you include the Super Bowl, they are 3-3. Certainly, a .500 record ON THE ROAD in the playoffs is not bad. Overall, the Colts winning % of .700 during the regular season is excellent as well. By comparison, over the same span the Colts are 4-1 at home in the post season and were 32-8 at home for a .800 winning %. The Colts play better at home, as does most every team in the NFL. That does not mean that they struggle on the road.

 

Myth 5:

Tony Dungy only won a Super Bowl because of Peyton Manning

Propagated by: Colin Cowherd

Why it seems true: Because he never won a title in Tampa, and Gruden did as soon as Dungy left

Why it’s false: Peyton Manning’s career record before Tony Dungy came to Indianapolis was 26-26. He had zero postseason wins (not his fault, but you sure could have blamed his coach! Jim Mora never won a playoff game with ANY QB). Before Dungy came to town, Manning had a ‘do it all myself’ mentality which led to a lot of picks. Check out Manning’s INT totals before and after Dungy:

Before: After:

28, 15, 15, 23 19, 10, 10, 10, 9

Clearly, Dungy’s calming influence on Manning altered the way he played.

Verdict: Dungy and Manning won the title together.  Dungy’s presence and demeanor clearly helped Manning develop into a consistent winner.  Dungy was a top flight coach in Tampa and clearly prepared the Bucs for the title they won.  The further Tampa gets from the Dungy era, the worse they do.  If not for a bad call in the NFC title game in 1999, the Bucs might have won a title under Dungy.  It takes luck and skill to win.  Dungy always had the skills; in 2006 he and Manning finally found the luck.

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