7 Things to Watch for in Sunday's Colts Panthers Game
It sucks to eat with one of these, but it makes an even worse quarterback.
Two weeks ago, the Colts stank it up against the Jaguars. On Sunday, they face the two-win Panthers, and a loss would all but clinch the first overall pick for the Colts. Here's what to watch for this Sunday.
1. Watch for an inappropriate utensil. There's been a lot of "controversy" about the Colts decision to start Curtis Painter. I will certainly agree with critics who think Painter is awful. The NFL is a gun fight, and Jim Caldwell and company are armed with a spork. Painter has been arguably the worst quarterback in football since taking over the starting job, but I refuse to get bent out of shape over Dan Orlovsky not playing. He's worse. He was worse in the preseason. He has no value as an NFL player moving forward, and he gives the Colts no better chance to win. Frankly, I don't understand how anyone can claim Polian is backing Painter for the sake of his ego. If that were true, he would have backed Gonzo and Brown. Those guys would be MUCH more important to Polian's ego than protecting Painter. It's all fake whiny media outrage, and I have no use for any of it. Orlovsky sucks. Painter sucks. It really makes no difference which one of them plays. Honestly, I don't care other than if Orlovsky plays, Eyes in the Backfield is one item shorter each week. That's all the difference it makes. So much complaining over nothing.
2. Watch for tears. 88 goes into the ring of honor, and I swear that if they let Peyton throw him a pass I'm going to lose it. The Ring of Honor is a great tribute, but it's not nearly enough. His jersey should be retired. No one has any business wearing 88 for the Colts again. Ironically, if they do let Peyton throw, it could be the last time I see him throw a pass for the Colts. I'm going to stop now before I start crying. Implore Jim Irsay on Twitter with #retire88.
3. Watch for the slow down. Cam Newton started the season like a house a fire, passing for more than 850 yards in his first two games. In his last five games, however, he's had three passer ratings under 65 and thrown 8 picks to just four touchdowns. Overall, he's having a stellar rookie year, but his actual play is tailing off dramatically. He has been incredibly effective on the ground, posting 9 rushing touchdowns. His completion percentage has been under 60% in most games, which means the Colts should not blitz him (which could force him from the pocket), but sit back in coverage and make him make accurate throws. They were never all that great at forcing Vince Young to do that back in the day, and Newton is better than Young ever was and the Indy defense is worse. It could get ugly.
4. Watch for the return of Ron Meeks. Meeks was deposed as defensive coordinator for the Panthers when Ron Rivera took over as head coach. The Panthers defense has actually taken a major step backwards since Meeks left. Granted it was bad in 2010, but it's actually gotten a field goal a game worse and is now the 31st scoring defense in the league. Funny how everyone seems to hate Meeks, but teams get worse when he leaves. The only scoring defense worse than the Panthers? Yeah, you know it. By DVOA the Panthers are the 32nd ranked D and Indy is 31st. Somehow, I still expect 3 turnovers from Painter.
5. Watch the running backs. Joe Addai should be active and might get a few carries, but the guy to watch is Donald Brown. He continues to play well and is the Colts best hope of generating offense each week. His DVOA is strong. His YPA is at 4.5. I can't even bring myself to think about what he'd be doing if 18 was behind center. It's hilarious that one of the key pieces of evidence that Indy has drafted poorly is Donald Brown, when the guy has actually been playing quite well ever since getting healthy a year ago. The Colts ONLY hope of winning is to pound the run against a Panthers D ranked 32nd against the run in DVOA.
6. Watch for the lost opportunity. I had this game circled on my calendar since last March when word of Jerry "Archie" Richardson's condescending remarks toward Peyton Manning became made public. It's got to be killing Peyton not to be able to point up to the owner's box after every touchdown. I so wanted to hear him say, "Hey Jerry! NEED HELP READING THAT SCOREBOARD? There're lots of big numbers on it!" Freaking sucks.
7. Watch for the clinch. It won't exactly be official, but I expect the Colts to collapse on Sunday and lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-7. It will create a new wave of whining from people who don't seem to realize that the season is beyond over, and there's no point in even paying attention to the games. We won't learn anything new this week that we didn't already know two months ago. I expect Painter to get pulled for Orlovsky who will throw some picks and take some sacks and generally be just as bad as the guy he replaced.