Welcome to the first "Postgame Mortem" feature. It's hard to do any real analysis without watching the tape, but the night of the game we'll check back in with you and answer some of the burning questions that still linger. Remeber, until I watch the game again, I reserve the right to change my mind. These are strictly emotional reactions.
Reasons to Smile...
- The pass protection was exemplary. Our biggest worry before the game turned out to be one of the best parts of the day. Charlie Johnson gave up one QB hit, and Diem got beat for a sack, but Manning was mostly clean and had time to work.
- Jerraud Powers was everywhere. Had he finished that big tackle on MJD on third and short, he would have been the player of the day. Huge debut for the rookie.
- Actually, a massive tip of the hat to Polian for this draft class. McAfee had a brilliant punt, Powers played amazing, Collie and Brown both caught first down passes. The rookies played and contributed early. McAfee actually had two punts, a 46 yard average and both wound up inside the 10. Great day.
- The defense was judicious with the blitzing and it paid off. Coyer's decision to rush Garrard on third and fourth down at the end of the game left him with no time to throw. The defense allowed just 3.9 yards per pass play. Sick.
- Dwight Freeney. He's good, you know? Also huge plays by Mathis and Brackett. Hard not to love those guys.
- The Colts dominated the game in every statistical way but the one that matters...points. This game wasn't as close as it played it out.
Reasons to Frown...
- The run game was a mess. I was fine with the modest production until the fourth quarter. The Colts did manage to convert several key third and shorts with Addai pounding the ball, and there were only two carries for losses all day, but the fact that they couldn't pick up a yard in two downs at the end was sickening. Neither Addai nor Brown had any room to operate. Both were effective in the passing game, but ultimately the same line that did such a stellar job pass blocking was a disaster run blocking.
- Manning's pick in the first quarter was horrid. It was a terrible pair of play calls, as (ironically) it seemed like the Colts had a chance to just ram the ball in, but beyond that the throw was miserable. The call was bad. The read was bad (Wayne was double covered). The throw was bad. Manning was mostly brilliant today, but that one toss altered the game dramatically. I would whine about the fumble, but that stat about it being Addai's first fumble in something like 495 touches mitigates it. Everyone fumbles sometimes, he fumbles so rarely it's unfair to jump him the one time a year it happens.
- The camera work was terrible. CBS regularly failed to show the snap of the ball making any kind of reasonable tracking of the line or the number of rushers impossible. I had hoped to have some good stats on blitzes or the line play, but found it nearly impossible to tell what was going on. It was very disappointing.
- Going for it on fourth down at the end of the game. It didn't work out, but it was still the right call. The play call (a run wide) left something to be desired, but up until he went down, it seemed like Brown was going to turn it up and seal the game. If you can't pick up a 4th and inches to win the game, you deserve to lose.
- Calling for a 52 yard FG with a gimpy kicker. The decision made no sense. The Colts were better off trying to convert the first down than they were by gifting the Jags with 7 extra yards of field position. It would have been fourth and 10 and I think the Colts offense was more likely to convert that distance than AV was to hit that field goal.
- Manning to Wayne for 39 yards on third and 13. The Colts were facing a punt while trailing, and Manning came through with a great throw and a better catch by Reggie Wayne.
- Manning's pick. It wasn't even close. Awful. Ok, I've killed him enough. He threw for 300 yards and had an otherwise great game.
Reasons I'm Flyin'...
- That defense was incredible. Don't sweat the rushing yards, as I mentioned this morning, NONE of the new D line players was in today. We survived a tough test without Ed Johnson, and I'll trade 5 yards a rush for 4 yards a pass any day.
- Reggie Wayne played perhaps his finest game as a Colt. No Harrison. No Gonzo. No problem. He was dominant in every possible way despite facing double coverage.
- We are one game up on the South and our next 7 opponents went 2-5 this weekend.
Reasons I'm Dyin'...
- Gonzo. The only word I've heard is a sprain 2-6 weeks. This affects the offense in so many ways. Not only does it kill my "TEs with more catches than Collie and Garcon" prediction (which I said, barring injury, so it's a wash), but it dramatically affects the offense. Tamme and Robinson both caught balls early, but after Gonzo went down everything changed. Manning was force feeding Wayne all day.
- The run game is not good. It's clearly not the backs. It's the line. There were no holes to run in. Anyone who wants to kill Addai had better be able to explain Don Brown's 3.3 ypc and utter failure on third and fourth down. The run game functioned all right at times. The Colts picked up some good short yardage gains when necessary, but ultimately all that matters is the ability to run out the clock at the end of the game. That isn't present yet.
The Bottom Line...
It's a win. The Colts haven't beaten the Jags by more than 10 in Indianapolis since the AFC South started. In some ways, this game reminded me a lot of both the Jags' and Titans' games in 2006. Against an opponent that hates you, had all offseason to prepare for you, forced you into two turnovers without ever putting the ball on the ground, and rushed for 4.4 YPC, to come away with a win is a major accomplishment. Last year, a tough call on fourth down against the Jags early in the season cost the Colts a division title and a bye. This year, the fourth down pass fell incomplete.
Hopefully that portends better things to come.