Well, that was a tough way to end the season. I doubt you'll find too many Colts' fans jumping off bridges. The Saints were a good team with a great coach and a great QB. The game could have easily swung the other way if a few balls had bounced differently, but in the end I think the end result is fitting. Getting off to an early lead was clearly the worst thing that could have happened to Coach Caldwell. It put him him 'conserve' mode, and he tried 'not to lose' the game. The key call that fans will forever hold against him was the terrible decision to kick a 51 yard field goal on fourth and 11. In the end, the Colts lost to an excellent Saints team that was among the best all season. There's no shame in that. 2009 was a great season for the Colts and a successful one. It didn't end the way we wanted, but this was still the second best team in Indianapolis history. I wish it could have ended differently, and but for a few bounces, maybe it would have. Still, life goes on and there is another season next year.
- Here's what the Colts have to do to improve in 2010:
1. Get a real kicker. It's hard to overly fault Polian for the Stover signing, and I certainly don't blame him for missing a kick I would never have let him attempt in the first place. Still, the Colts need a kicker who can convert a 50+ yard kick. You can't win in the NFL without one. Perhaps a made field goal and a decent kickoff change everything else that happened in that fourth quarter. Certainly a punt would have made it interesting. Vinateri can't be trusted to come back healthy. It's time for a kicker with some leg.
2. Get depth for the defensive ends. It's been a problem since 2007. Raheem Brock is a valued Colts, but he isn't a serviceable back up DE. Freeney clearly wasn't good to go in the second half. He missed the Saints whole first TD drive. Brees struggled early, as the Colts had good push. When the rush died, he took over. We didn't realize it at the time (though we all feared it), but when Freeney stepped on Sanchez's ankle, the Colts season went up in smoke. There isn't another Dwight Freeney just sitting out there, but something has to be done to help the team compensate.
3. Get new offensive tackles. Right, I realize that the Colts only gave up 10 or so sacks, but there was precious little room to run on the edges. Anyone watching tonight could see that Addai has moves to spare, but Colts runners are hit in the backfield too often. It didn't really cost the Colts in the Super Bowl, but better run blocking would go a long way. I thought Diem and CJ were both substandard in run blocking all year and should be replaced.
- Three more things should happen naturally:
1. The WR corps will improve. The young guys played better and better as the season went on, though Garcon never fully got over the dropsies, putting key third downs on the ground against both the Ravens and Saints. On the key third down in the fourth quarter, Collie tried to get a pass interference call instead of just going up to make the catch.
2. Caldwell has to coach more aggressively. If he didn't learn his lesson tonight, he never will. To his credit, he made the right call on a key fourth down, but screwed the end of half and fourth quarter scenarios.
3. The secondary will improve. Losing Sanders, Jackson, and Powers for long stretches hurt. All three healthy would probably have made a huge difference against the Saints. I expect the 2010 Colts' to have an even better defensive backfield.
- Some myths were pretty well shattered tonight:
1. Larry Coyer is a genius at bringing pressure. Nope. It's Freeney and Mathis. Anything else is still just caused by them. Take them away, and the Colts' D rots.
2. The special teams are better because of a new coach. They sucked tonight. They kind of have all year. They always will. This team can't return punts, kicks, or kick field goals. The key to good special teams is a good kicker and a punter. We have one and we need the other.
3. Jim Caldwell is a better coach than Tony Dungy. He had a great year. I still believe in him. He got worked tonight.
Finally, this is not innate of anything, but the NFL HAS to fix the possession to the ground rule on a catch. I never have ANY idea what is a catch any more. I was stunned they overturned the 2 pt conversion call of incomplete. Now, I feel the the play WAS a completed pass according to 'reality', but according to my understanding of the rule, I see no way that what Lance Moore did constituted possession. The problem is that the rule creates a weird judgement zone where the official has to determine how long a guy has possession for. It was designed to take that element OUT of the game, but I don't see that it's working. The rule should be two feet with possession=good catch. Forget this "maintain possession to the ground" crap. It doesn't work.