No team makes the playoffs every year in perpetuity.
I think it's important to remind everyone that today, because Colts fans are enduring a collective freak out the likes of which I've rarely seen.
Last Monday was the day to panic.
Yesterday was inevitable.
The Colts suffered one of the worst beatings in Indianapolis history yesterday, but no one who has been watching this team should have been surprised in the least. Frankly, I'm amazed at all the outrage. It's as if people turned on the game yesterday thinking the Colts had any real chance to be competitive.
You don't start Kerry Collins in a game with two weeks to learn the offense and expect to get anything other than what the Colts got. Yesterday was not the test of whether this team will be in games. That test comes next week against the lowly Browns. There are games the 2011 Colts have no chance to win going in. Accept that now.
Oh but the defense! Oh but the special teams! They were so bad!
The special teams were bad, I'll grant you.
Are you surprised by that? If so then you've not seen a Colts game any time for the last 10 years.
As for the defense, how bad were they?
Last year against the Texans, Indy gave up 34 points. They gave up an HONEST 34.
The D yesterday surrendered two short field touchdowns, yes, but on drives where the Texans started outside the Indianapolis 20 yard line, Houston only scored 13 points.
The Colts defense forced three turnovers. That's something they were awful at last year.
For all the talk about "Peyton Manning can't tackle", people lost sight of the fact that he only lost two fumbles all of 2010. Collins lost two in two minutes. One was recovered at the 12 and the other at the 20. No, Peyton Manning can't tackle, but he does tend to field snaps from center. He's good at that.
To be perfectly honest, I thought the Colts looked better yesterday than I expected them to.
It's fine to talk about 'emotion' and 'respect' and 'pride', but those things are all but meaningless. They are emotional words that we slap on to games for our own narrative purposes. They do not win football games.
You know what wins football games?
Once in a generation athletes with freaking laser-rocket arms.
That's what wins football games.
The Colts got beat by a much better team yesterday. They did some things well, and if Peyton Manning had played, the score probably would have been 28-24 in one direction or the other.
It's time to grow up, Indianapolis. Shed the naivety. This team isn't going anywhere without Peyton Manning. If that disappoints your expectations, then the problem is with you, not the team. It's tailor made for Peyton Manning, and if he had played, that game would have been close, and the Colts might even have won.
He's the greatest player anyone has ever seen.
It's only just dawning on us how great.
Quick hit thoughts (all opinions subject to change until I watch tape):
- The Oline ran blocked well yesterday. The pass blocking was weak, but it's always weak. Honestly, I don't think they played any worse than they did at Houston last year. Kerry Collins takes sacks. He's going to take 60 sacks if he even survives that long. The line might play better than last year, but we'll have no way of knowing it. Peyton Manning wouldn't have taken more than one sack yesterday. It's not the line. It's Collins. It's not going to get any better. He holds the ball longer than Travis Best (hat tip to Roy Hobbson for that one).
- Collins showed why he's the right choice to replace Manning, but also why he would have been a better choice in early August. He wasn't ready to play. He hadn't worked with Saturday enough. He wasn't varying the snap counts, and Houston was taking free runs at him. All the little things you never even notice about Peyton that he can do to elevate his teammates, Collins couldn't do any of them. He's had no time to work with Collie and that showed. Kerry Collins WILL GET BETTER. For those calling for Painter, you forget that what Collins needs most is reps. This was his second preseason game. Yanking him would have solved nothing.
- Several vets played hard. Brackett was a force before he got hurt. Reggie Wayne and Joe Addai showed why they are beloved. Jeff Saturday scrapped and fought for a loose ball. Leadership is important, and it matters over the long haul. The Colts were facing one of the best offensive teams in football yesterday, and to win they needed points, not leadership, emotion, or inspiration. They needed Peyton F. Manning.
- The real test comes Sunday against Cleveland. If the Colts can win that game, then there are 5-6 more winnable games left on the schedule (assuming Manning is out for the year). If they get waxed against the Browns, I'll write a piece on Andrew Luck. Deal? Let's save the collective hissy-fit for a game that the team actually stands a chance in.
- For the love of scotch, what was Larry Coyer doing the week before this game? Is there anyone in the WORLD who didn't know Houston would run a million rollouts and bootlegs? I certainly did (Go read that preview again, please. I had this game dead to rights). I'm just not a Coyer fan. I don't know how the Colts looked so ill-prepared for that. Nothing the Texans did should have been surprising to Indianapolis, yet somehow they looked unprepared. That's inexcusable.
- Mortensen's reports that Indy has an out on Peyton's deal is very encouraging. I don't want out of that deal if I'm the Colts, but if they have to get out of it, the team won't be sunk. That's why there was no physical before the deal. The Colts already knew his condition and had a way out.
- I'm tired of the whining about the front office. It's getting old. It's been almost a decade since the team didn't make the playoffs. As I've pointed out, drafting low for that long is DESIGNED to take a toll. The Colts have drafted well for their draft slot. Again, this is a matter of expectation. The Colts hit on a lot more first rounders when they drafted in the top 20 regularly.
- Indy didn't quit yesterday. They came out in the second half and played hard. You want to talk demoralizing losses? Ask the Steelers or the Chiefs about demoralizing losses. At least Indy has a pretty freaking good reason for the stink-fest. It's not going to get good. I'm not going to tell you it is. That would be a lie.
It is going to get better.