In the midst of this bleak day of “breaking news” “Manning updates” and “unnamed sources” I’ve found myself pondering the thought of seeing the Colts starting lineup being announced on Sept. 11th sans #18. It’s a concept I, and more than likely, most Colts fans thought that they wouldn’t have to experience for another 5 years or so. Like it or not though, that dreaded day may well be fast approaching and how this team reacts will tell us a lot about the character of the organization.
Although the injury bug is a common visitor to the Colts, seemingly stealing several key players from us on an annual basis, the fact that our franchise QB and team leader is now presumably out of action rests a lot of the burden on our defensive unit. It’s my belief that with our impressive array of skill position gems, a new offensive line, and a veteran QB in Collins that the offense will still be capable of putting points on the board. Having a RB like Delone Carter (who I believe is a diamond in the rough) getting more carries in Manning’s absence is also a recipe for potentially discovering a star at the position.
The real story of these Manning-less games will be how the defense responds.
The D-line rotation has promise and shows flashes of finally being able to stop the bleeding in regards to rush defense. Drake Nevis in particular has shown that he can sniff out the football better than most and seems to be rapidly progressing, which says a lot considering the notoriously steep learning curve for DTs.
Ernie Sims has also shown a willingness to get his hands dirty and fill a void left by Clint Session. During the pre-season he played well and laid some wood on opposing RBs. Adrian Moten also surprised most simply by making the team and gives us a terrific zone defender with great instincts.
The secondary is the biggest question mark of this unit IMO – the safety position in particular. While players like Bethea, Powers, and Tryon have shown that they are dependable defenders who pressure opposing receivers and limit big plays… I have doubts about Melvin Bullit.
He has shown to be a capable tackler and can give adequate support at the LOS, but has also displayed a tendency to bite very easily on play-action. More often than not, a hard bite on a play-action is going to lead to a significant gain or worst case scenario, six points.
While a TD is never an acceptable end to an opponent’s drive, it was a bit more stand-able knowing that Manning would be jogging on the field shortly and always gave us a very good chance of negating the points surrendered. This is why the defense MUST step up.
If the defense can force turnovers like they used to… stop the run… and most importantly stay healthy, this could be a bridge we can navigate. So keep your heads up Colts fans… the glass is still half full.
Speaking of which, can you top me off… I could use it right now.