It's been a great time for me 'to get away' and clear my head of football. Though I grant you that not blogging much this week has been a bit of a shock to my system, the events of real life have made that necessary. And so now, I come back reenergized and ready to state my presuppositions about this season going forward. In as few words as possible: I'm not worried. Not even a little.
Here's a list of controversial statements that I hold to be true:
1. Peyton Manning's best game was week 1. Peyton did what was necessary to win the game. The WRs failed miserable (along with the line), and it cost the Colts a win.
2. The Colts were lucky to win in week 2, and unlucky in week 3. They were vastly superior to the Jags, and blown calls on both picks by Peyton swung that game. If either call is made, Indy wins by double digits.
3. The problem with the run defense is not the D-line, but rather the linebackers. The D-line is holding its own, but it is the linebackers who must make tackles. The gap control has been poor, leading 2006-like rushing performances by opposing backs.
4. The Colts third down failures are in large part due to Tim Jennings being on the field. He gives too big a cusion to almost every type of receiver and this leads to easy completions.
5. There is nothing wrong with the Colts offense that can't be solved by Manning making better decisions. Three of his four picks the last two games have been terrible decisions (I give him a pass on the return for a TD against the Jags, because the interference was so obvious). The return of Saturday and Clark proved the Colts can move and run the ball, and I expect Manning to be much more controlled after the bye. The Colts offense will once again be in the top 5. I expect Manning to throw no more than 6 picks the rest of the year, to go with 27 more TDs. Other than a couple of bad decisions, I've seen no evidence that his play or skill has slipped.
6. There is nothing truly wrong with the Colts defense. In three games, the most points they allowed was 20. In fact, they have allowed three touchdowns in three games (and one of those TD drives started on the Indy half of the field). That ought to be good enough to win three games. The problem is that people like to place blame. Why did the Colts lose? TOO MANY RUSHING YARDS! Um, no. They lost week one because Harrison fumbled and it was run back for a score. They lost week three because both Manning picks eventually resulted in TDs. The defense played well enough to win both games. Did it fail from time to time, yes of course. It's easy to blame the D for the loss last Sunday because it folded so badly in the fourth quarter. To do so, however, minimizes the culpability of the offense in letting the D stay on the field so long. No defense will perform well when forced to be on the field for 25 minutes a half.
7. I still expect the Colts to win 11-12 games and win the South fairly easily. None of the 'new power' teams in the AFC are very scary, and I have a feeling that in 6 or 7 weeks everyone will laugh at people who considered San Diego and Indy to be slipping in favor of the Buffalos and Denvers of the world. The Colts still have 5 games left with Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston and Detroit who are a combined 0-11.
Let's just say...I woudn't want to be Houston next week. It's always tough to win at Houston for reasons that I've never quite understood, but I sense that a beat down is coming for the Texans.