Who was the nimrod who decided to write a weekly column complaining about the Colts in the same year the Colts decided to have an amazing season? Really, there are only two acceptable choices at this point: 1) change the name from Monday Morning Moaner to Monday Morning Merriment or 2) fire myself. Unfortunately, I'm as stubborn about not changing things (or firing myself) as Pep Hamilton is about using the fullback, so we're sticking with the Moaner theme and we're going to complain about a 34-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Yea, I'm that guy.
We're going to do this one a little different. I love lists (and lamp), so here are some lists:
1) TY Hilton should be the #2 WR – This gripe isn't completely about the team's love for a fullback. Sure, Havili/Hughes usage cuts in to Hilton's playing time, but my issues with this situation go beyond the fullback. TY Hilton is a better player than Darrius Heyward-Bey. This isn't a slight on DHB. He's been a good player for the Colts, and they are going to need him to continue to contribute if they are going to go far this year. But the argument for starting DHB over Hilton seems to revolve around one issue: DHB is a better run blocker than TY Hilton.
Because that's what I look for first in a wide receiver.
Yesterday, it was Hilton's 73-yard catch-and-run score that woke the Colts and their fans up from the coma they were in to start the game. It was his speed that drew a key defensive pass interference on 3rd-and-25 and then his amazing catch later on 3rd-and-8 that got the game-winning drive started and kept it going. The Colts don't beat the Seahawks without TY Hilton's contributions.
Look, at 5'9, 178lbs, TY Hilton is probably never going to be a world class run blocker. But you know what he will be world class at? Catching the ball and making big plays. And that's kind of important when it comes to winning games. I also realize I just started this paragraph off with like 5 half-sentences. Shout out to ex-Colts.com writer John Oehser.
And the point that many, including, in my opinion, the Colts themselves, are overlooking, is that Hilton's ability to stretch the field vertically will open up the running game. Sure, he won't level his cornerback with a block, but he won't have to. What cornerback is going to be aggressively looking into the backfield with Hilton across from them? Look in the backfield the one time it happens to be play action, and it's a touchdown.
Right, Richard Sherman?
A few more pictures, courtesy of Colts Authority's Kyle Rodriguez:
2) The Colts need to be more aggressive at the end of games – After Jerrell Freeman forced a punt with an amazing play to stop QB Russell Wilson on 3rd-and-2, Andrew Luck and the Colts took over with 6:38 left on the clock, a 3pt lead, and an opponent with 0 timeouts. The Colts would run 4:43 off the clock and extend their lead to 6 on a 49-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.
I believe their thought process on their last 4 plays – including the field goal – was incorrect. Here are their last 3 calls: Ricardson run up the middle for 4, Richardson run up the middle for -3, Brown run up the middle for 3. The Colts were clearly not interested in putting the ball in the air, risking a clock stoppage on an incompletion. And with the field goal, Pagano was once again putting the team in the position of relying on the defense to get a stop, rather than letting the offense close out the game.
Here's why I disagree (MORE LISTS):
a) the 3rd down play took place with 2:14 left in the game. Because the 2-minute warning stops the clock, an incompletion only costs them, at most, 10 seconds. On the flip side, a first down ends the game.
b) I love Adam Vinatieri. I truly believe him coming to Indianapolis was one of the major factors in the 2006 title. But you can't deny that he's been shaky from long distance this year, and a miss there would have put the Seahawks at the 39, down only 3, with around 1:50 to play. The Seahawks weren't struggling to move the ball, and they certainly weren't having any problems kicking field goals.
c) While the defense has had great moments this year, they are still, in my opinion, very inconsistent. They are NOT the best unit on this team. They do not, despite Robert Mathis' amazing sack totals, have this team's best players. Those distinctions belong to Andrew Luck and the offense. Put the ball in his hands and let him ice the game.
Like the poor decision to kick the extra point against San Francisco in week 3, yesterday's mistake didn't cost the Colts, but that doesn't mean it was the correct decision. Pagano can have faith in his defense while simultaneously making the correct aggressive moves on offense. In fact, it's incorrect to push the idea that being aggressive on 3rd down shows a lack of faith in your defense. The Colts won't always convert, and when they don't, your defense is going to have to prevent so much as a field goal.
Pagano talks a lot about the process. Buying into the process. Believing in the process. The process is important. I believe in the process. I happen to think that Pagano is allowing results to affect how he approaches the process.
3) Ron Winter (and his crew) should not be in the NFL – I know, I know, I complain about the refs a lot. The truth is, I'm one of those bad fans who happen to think that people paid $100,000 for 17 weeks of work shouldn't suck at their job. And when they do suck at their job, there should be some repercussions, like every other person on planet earth (other than the United States Congress) face.
That Ron Winter and his crew were horrible yesterday isn't a surprise: they are universally regarded as one of the two-worst crews in the league (Walt Coleman's being the other). The surprise is that, despite week-after-week of inconsistent, nonsensical officiating, they not only continue to officiate, but officiate big games.
Winter has done: Philly @ Washington on MNF to open the season, Atlanta @ Miami, Cincinnati @ Cleveland and Seattle @ Indy
Coleman has done: Baltimore @ Denver (Season opener), Carolina @ Buffalo, Arizona @ New Orleans, New England @ Atlanta and Philly @ NYGiants.
Yep, no games with playoff implications there for the Blaine Gabberts of officiating.
Coming into today's game, Ron Winter's crew was calling an average of 11.67 penalties-per-game. Of those penalties, 5 per game were offensive holding. So when the Indianapolis Colts offensive line meets the dominant Seattle defensive line, and the makeshift Seattle OL meets a blitz-heavy Colts defense led by the NFL sack leader, you could easily imagine this crew hitting the over! One. That's how many holding calls they made (the other holding call came on a special teams play). And this wasn't because there was no holding, it's just because this crew is incredibly inconsistent.
And then there's defensive holding. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner spent the entire game trying to reenact the closing fight sequence from The Matrix, when Neo jumped into Agent Smith. Greg Toler was taking piggyback rides on Seahawks all afternoon. The crew called two DPI on the Seahawks and a mind-blowingly bad OPI on Seattle's Golden Tate. While the two DPI calls were correct, the bigger issue, again, is inconsistency. There was nothing wrong with those calls, but they let many similar calls go. What's the standard? No one knows with these folks. It's better to not call anything than it is to randomly enforce penalties.
Finally, there's Andrew Luck's head, which was unceremoniously whacked by Seahawks' DE Chris Clemons on the way to forcing a fumble. At the time, it seemed like the play that may have sealed the Colts' fate: Seattle had a 22-17 lead and the ball on Indy's 30 yard line. A touchdown would have been curtains. Luckily, the Colts defense held Seattle to a FG and the team would go on to win the game, but that shouldn't excuse the egregious error made on this play.
The NFL touts its players as the best in the world. It's time they hold their officials to the same standard.
Things I liked:
1) THE COLTS WON!
2) They beat the Seahawks!
3) The Titans lost!
4) The decision to go to a more up-tempo offense in the 2nd half
5) TY Hilton's big day
6) Robert Mathis' 2 sacks, bringing him to 9.5 on the season and putting him over 100 for his career
7) Shutting up Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner
8) The Texans lost
9) The Colts are alone atop the AFC South
10) Luck threw at least 3 perfect passes yesterday. Let Luck be Luck. He's developing into a dominant quarterback at the ripe old age of 24. Don't stifle his creativity, his intelligence, and his ability to throw the perfect pass.