Some of you aren't going to like what I have to say.
Peyton Manning is playing terrible football.
We need to stop with the false narratives like "he's getting hit more than ever". That's demonstrably false. The offensive line isn't any worse at pass blocking this year than it was last year.
While the New England Patriots game required 421 yards and 5 touchdowns to win it, neither the Chargers game nor the game last night did. The truth is that had Manning completed 60% of his passes for some mediocre yardage total and a touchdown, the Colts probably beat the Cowboys at home. Peyton Manning isn't the only quarterback alive who could have beaten the Cowboys last night, even with that offense. About 15 other guys could have done it. The Dallas offense scored 18 points points yesterday that weren't aided by turnovers. That's hardly an insurmountable total.
Peyton isn't hurt. He's not old. He's firing rifle shots. In the last few weeks, he's thrown some of the most beautiful passes he's ever thrown. His first interception of the game to Reggie Wayne was not a bad throw. It was not a rushed throw. He set it right on Wayne's hands 40 yards down field. The problem was that is that it was a ball that should not have been thrown at all.
Whatever is going on with Manning is going on between his ears.
The only difference between last year's 12-0 season and this year's 6-6 season is a few injuries (we had lots last year too), a little luck, and the play of Peyton Manning. Last year he lead the Colts to 7 fourth quarter comebacks. That's living on the razor's edge. This year, he's had comebacks fall short four times.
There are no windows in the NFL. Reloading in the NFL takes a year or two at the most. Last year, the Patriots window was closed. Now it's wide open. The Steelers bounce in and out of the playoffs every year. The Colts entered this year with as talented a roster as they've ever had. This weird kind of fatalism from fans and the press, not just about this season but about the future is inexplicable. I suppose we like 'big picture stories' because no one wants to believe that events are random. No one wants to hear about injuries and the bounce of the football. No one wants to hear that a blown call one week and an obscure one the next turned two different games completely around. We aren't comfortable with that level of ambiguity about life and football.
The Colts aren't getting wiped off the field. They are repeatedly getting beat at the end of the games. That's the fourth loss by a total of 11 points. It's the third time that Manning had a real opportunity to win the game and didn't. For a magical two year stretch in which he won two MVP awards, he never failed in that position. Every single time he had the chance to win a game, he did. Now, he's failed at it three times in 5 weeks.
I don't know why Manning is throwing so many interceptions right now. What I do know is that he's to blame for the majority of them. If Peyton Manning were playing good football, this team would be 8-4. If he was playing MVP football, this team would be 10-2.
I am not "blaming" this season on Peyton Manning. I don't play that game. I'm not "ripping him". I'm stating cold detached truth as honestly as I can. He's playing poorly. He has thrown crippling interceptions the last few games that are on no one but him.
- These have been some of the worst losses I've ever experienced this year. I feel broken.
- I don't know what happened to Don Brown, but Mike Hart wasn't any better. The line isn't to blame for the interceptions, but this unit can't run block at all. Not at all.
- Reggie Wayne. Man. This is the second time he had a monster game, giving us everything he had, only to have a huge mistake hanging around his neck at the end.
- I'm not a fan of Coyer's scheme or his blitzes, but the defense for the most part played well enough.
- I see no reason at all why Caldwell would be on the hot seat. The last coach I would ever want would be Gruden. The Colts lost this game because Peyton Manning threw four interceptions. None of them were Caldwell's fault. Not much about this season is. He called the good timeout on defense to preserve time before the two minute warning. I didn't find much to fault with him yesterday, other than the fact that the team seem to come out flat. I suppose that's offset by the fact that they didn't quit.
- Leaping. Just...wow.
- Tryon has been a great pickup. Lacey isn't having nearly the year he was last year. Losing Powers is heartbreaking.
The rest of the game is a blur. I don't know how we'll go through this all over again in three days.