To distract myself from Colts blogosphere hysteria after the severe beating this week, and to perhaps make myself a better fan, I decided to do an in depth analysis of 1 series that seemed to define the tone of this debacle. I would watch every play (using a DVR and the broadcast camera angels) in the series and chart exactly what each run defender (D-Lineman, Linebackers, and any DBs pulled into run support) did on each play, and what the Houston offense did that was so successful against them. My hope was that this would provide me with some hint as to what went wrong.
Picking the series was easy. At the start of the 3rd Quarter the Texans led the Colts 13 to 10. The Colts were dominating the time of possession battle and while not devastating on defense, they were credible. I was most worried about Peyton Manning's protection as it had been pretty bad in the first half. I was not worried at all about the Texans having a historic running day. On the first drive of the 3rd quarter the Texans went 67 yards and scored a touchdown. They held the ball for almost 8 minutes and 15 plays (13 of them rushing). This series tired out the defense and set the tone for the rest of the second half.
TiqIQ gives a look at what tickets can be had and for how much for the game on Sunday. By the way, you can now use TiqIQ for road games as well. To buy tickets, just click the 18to88 Tickets link below the banner. Remember, TiqIQ isn't selling the tickets, they are helping you find the best deal.
For our newer readers, our weekly in-season podcast, 18 Plays, is up for the Colts/Texans game.
For 18 Plays, we pick the 18 most important moments in each game and Luke and I break down the film.
This week we discuss the real reason the Colts gave up lots of rushing yards (hint: it wasn't the D line), and who was the worst offensive lineman (hint: he was on the left side).
This just sucks.
Good bye, Zombie. I'll never forget what you did for us.
A couple of notes on Bob's deal: His salary this year is only $2.5 million.
Next year that doubles to $5. The Colts still have $3.7 million in bonuses to account for, so they have to cut him before/if a cap comes back so that money clears.
There's just no way he's back next year.
Yesterday, there were rumors (not even reports) floating around that Bob Sanders was done for the year.
I didn't link to them or mention them here, because the person who started the rumors wasn't willing to stand by them even within the story itself. Then yesterday Sanders showed up at practice and was walking through. So basically, we know nothing about Sanders' injury status.
Since there's no point in speculating about Sanders, what's more interesting to me is fans' anger about injuries. Recently, the Reds' Jay Bruce pulled a muscle in his side. He sat out one game 'as a precaution'. Then, he sat out another. Before you know it, he was down almost two weeks. Fans began to get angry at Bruce, the team, the media, and everyone who had ever heard of Jay Bruce.
I've seen the same kind of reaction from Colts' fans. Indy has been among the most injured teams for several years running, and patience is wearing thin in Colts' nation. It seems that many fans would rather just be rid of injured players than wait for them to be healthy. There is also a lot of angst focused at management for 'not being honest' about injuries.
Frankly, I've never understood those reactions. I don't know where the angst comes from. It can't all be from gambling and fantasy football, can it? I can understand that what gamblers want is as many known quantities as possible. If you are laying money on the game, you want to know who is playing. For the common fan, like myself, I don't understand the angst.
People should rarely blame the player. I know there are a few soft suzies out there who sit in the training room with every bump and bruise, but those guys don't typically make the NFL. Bob Sanders is hurt because he plays all out. Fans used to KILL Ken Griffey Jr. for his injuries, but all of them came from running into walls and straining to make plays. Bob Sanders is hurt all the time because he's playing hard. It hurts me when he gets hurt. He isn't a guy who wants to sit. Moreover, the team knew he was an injury risk when they drafted and when the resigned him. He's always been a calculated risk. We all knew that going in. The team has a solid backup for him. When he plays, he helps us. When he doesn't, it doesn't hurt the team, so why are people angry? I understand and feel the pain and disappointment, but the anger doesn't compute.
I also don't understand anger directed at the team. Let me be clear: all teams should follow NFL rules. However, within those rules I don't care if the Colts give us information. If they feel like they get an advantage by being coy with the media and fans about injuries, they should do it.
I WANT THEM TO WIN GAMES! As long as they win, they can stonewall about Bob Sanders, Gonzo, CJ, Saturday and anyone else with a Horseshoe on the helmet. As someone who writes about and comments on the Colts, it would be nice to have accurate information, but you know what I'd rather have? WINS. Does playing games with the injury report win games? Who knows. I doubt it. If Bill Polian thinks it does, then that's good enough for me. If the Reds feel like hiding Jay Bruce's injury helps them win games, then they should do it. As long as my team is actively trying to win, I'm good with whatever the boundaries of the rules allow.
I hate injuries. I agonize over who is playing and who isn't. The "I'm tired of so and so" argument doesn't fly with me though. When the team decides they can't deal with a player's injuries any more, they cut him (see Ugoh, Tony). That's the club's choice, not mine. In the case of a guy like Sanders, much of the drama this season has come from bad media reporting. Mike Lombardi floats a bogus story, and we get worked up. Florio pisses into the wind, and we get worked up and then claim to be tired of the drama. Maybe if we didn't fixate on every hack out there, we wouldn't have so much drama to be tired of. Sanders was just hurt two days ago. Can't we just wait a week and see what happens before overreacting?
I hope Bob is ok. If he plays, he plays. I love him. I will never hold anything against him. He's given us his body, one limb at a time. I hope Gonzo is ok. We NEED him. I'm not mad at him, though. If he could have played on Sunday, he would have.
Getting hurt isn't a sign of 'fragility'. It's a sign that the NFL is a violent game. It destroys the human body.
There's no point in getting angry about that.
Sunday night's game is going to be a tough ticket to get a hold of.
The Giants/Colts matchup is a marquee game. I'm sure lots of New York fans will be scrounging for tickets. I've been asked several times to write about the process of getting tickets to Colts games. Though we have season tickets, we've done more than our fair share of ticket hustling (buying and selling) over the years. The following is a crash course to buying Colts tickets.
Option 1: Buy from the Box Office
Ok, so this isn't much of an option, especially not for a big game. Still, against lesser teams, there are often some tickets returned to the Colts at the last minute. If you pay attention on Fridays, you can occasionally catch word that a few hundred tickets have been made available. If you want the best price/safest transaction possible go this route. It's tough to get though.
Option 2: Scalp at the Stadium
Ticket scalping has a bad rep (and is highly illegal) in many parts of the country, but is a time honored Indianapolis tradition. I've bought and sold tickets on the street more times than I can count. Technically, to sell tickets in Indy, you need a peddlers license, so be careful. Frankly, I've never understood 'no scalping' laws. It's un-American to not engage in free trade. Still, selling tickets downtown can net you either a good price or a citation. Like I said, I've done it, but you have to understand the risks. Because of the 500, Indy is a scalpers paradise. You aren't really an Indy sports fan if you never rolled the dice and bought a ticket off a shady guy with a cardboard sign. Again, it's not necessarily illegal...it's just risky.
Scalping can land you incredible deals IF you find the right guy. Look for the guy who is selling his own tickets. Private ticket holders are nervous. They just want to get some money and get out. We pulled this off back in 1998 and landed two tickets to game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Bulls. The professional ticket scalpers are going to squeeze you for every dollar they can. Don't buy tickets without a seating chart handy either.
My favorite scalping story was when I was unloading a couple of preseason tickets one year. I got $10 bucks for them (hey, it paid for parking), and the pro scalper whipped out a HUGE wad of cash from his pocket, and counted me off 10 singles after peeling through hundreds and fifties. Then something blew from his hand. "MY FOOD STAMPS!" he yelled! I tracked them down. He was thankful.
Don't take any of this as an endorsement of buying tickets off the street. I'm not looking to get sued. There are two huge problems with scalping. The first is that the transaction is totally unsecure. You can get sold a fake ticket and then you are out your money. I've never had this happen, but it can. If you buy from a guy on the street, you are taking a massive risk.
The second problem is the premium. For a big game, you are going to pay big money down by the Luke. It can be tough to get into the game without shelling out hundreds of dollars. Back in the day when barely 50,000 came to the dome, scalping was the way to go. For five or ten bucks, you could score a seat at the last minute. It's just not like that anymore. If you are out $10 bucks on fake ticket, it's a bummer but doesn't ruin your week. If you drop $500 and get screwed, you will regret it for years. The bigger the game, the worse of an option street scalping becomes.
Option 3: TiqIQ
The most secure way to buy second hand tickets is from a reputable online ticket broker like Stubhub. You don't have to carry wads of cash, and your transaction is protected against fraud. Some of them even have the option to print the tickets out on line, meaning you can pull off game day or night before transactions. The problem is that there are lots of ticket services out there, and hunting for the best price can be time consuming. Each service also charges different fees. Some charge the seller, some the buyer, and some on both ends. The bottom line is that with online brokers, you are often paying a premium for the security and ease of the transaction. That makes getting the best deal all the more important.
That's where TiqIQ comes in. They've just partnered with 18to88 to provide links to the second hand ticket market for Colts games. TiqIQ doesn't actually sell you the tickets. They aggregate all the major online ticket vendors to give you a snap shot of current prices. You then click the ticket you want, and they send you to the appropriate vendor. TiqIQ is awesome because they show you how much above or below face and average price you are paying for the ticket.
Instead of checking out five online sites trying to compare prices, you can do it all from the comfort of 18to88.com. I almost wrote this store a month ago because a reader was begging for it, but I ran out of time. Last week, I got an email about the new partnership with TiqIQ. After checking out the link (which you can see just below our banner), I was blown away. This is an incredible service. They aren't selling you anything. They are just showing you what the pricing schemes are.
If you want to go to the Giants game on Sunday night, try out TiqIQ, and you'll find the best deal. You'll also help out 18to88.com. What can beat that? Again, TiqIQ is not selling anything. They are just telling you what is for sale by reputable ticket vendors. If you are planning on buying tickets on line, make the link on our banner your first stop.
I have one inviolate rule on 18to88.com: be honest.
I mention that because you all need to know that I got paid to write this article. You also need to know that I would have written it for free. By the way, you'll want to read to the end of this article...
We are all Colts fans here. When the Colts are on, that's the game we are watching. Unfortunately, the Colts are only on once a week. For some reason, the league has seen fit to have at least three other slots where there are games on that don't involve the Colts. This happens every week.
Evidently, people like to watch football even when Indianapolis is not playing. Go figure.
I'm a channel surfer. I love to watch as many key games as I can. I'm tracking fantasy players, taking notes for my new column on Cold Hard Football Facts, and generally enjoying any close game. A few seasons ago, I shelled out the big money for the NFL Sunday Ticket. During the Colts games, I was glued to one channel, but afterwards I would browse other games.
A funny thing happened, though. No matter how many games were on, I always wound up back at the first the channel in the tier. It was this new channel called NFL Redzone. The idea was that they flipped the channel for me. The Redzone forever altered the way I watched football. The stayed focused on the best games. If a team got inside the 20 yard line, they cut to that game. They showed multiple games in split screen. They never went to commercial breaks. If there was a big play in a game they weren't covering, they'd cut straight to the replay.
The Sunday Ticket offered me tons of channels. I only ever watched one.
The NFL Redzone.
Since then, I had stopped shelling out the exorbitant fees for the Sunday Ticket. It just didn't make sense, I was only watching one channel. When I heard that the Redzone channel was available on other cable systems APART from the Sunday Ticket, I did a dance.
The NFL Redzone channel is the greatest channel in the history of mankind. When I was approached about writing up the Redzone, I laughed. I was planning on doing that anyway! Redzone is so good, that every serious NFL fan simply has to have it.
If you are a Colts fan living in the Indy market, there is no reason to shell out hundreds of hard earned dollars for the Sunday Ticket. All you need to do is dial up Dish Network and get the Redzone Channel. With your subscription to "America's 120 Plus" on Dish Network for just 29.99, you get either Fox Sports Chicago (Cubs and White Sox games) or Fox Sports Ohio (almost every Reds game...I get this and it rules) depending on where you live in the area. In some cases, you might get both. Everyone gets Fox Sports Indiana which means Pacers basketball all season long.
Then for just SEVEN dollars a month ($7.00, 700 pennies), you can get a special tier that includes: NFL Redzone, NBA TV, NHL TV, Big 10 Network, and ESPN Classic all in high definition. Seriously. For seven dollars you can not only the only NFL channel worth having on Sundays, but all the Big 10 sports you could want too. Dish Network is stone cold hard to beat. Even if you only want Redzone, you can always cancel the tier at the end of the season. There's actually a free preview of Redzone coming up next Sunday (the 19th), so if you get set up this week, you can take immediate advantage.
Dish Network has free installation for up to 6 rooms, free HD for life, and DVR available with a $6 monthly lease. If you've been considering spending a lot of money to sign up with DirecTV just for football season, think again. Call up Dish Network and get the Redzone channel instead. You'll save hundreds of dollars and get just about the same amount of NFL action. Plus, Indianapolis area residents get all the Colts' games all year long on Dish Network anyway.
The first person to sign up for a new Dish that mentions 18to88 will win two tickets to the Colts/Chiefs game.
As always, I reserve the right to change my mind on any Monday call after I watch the tape
The Colts lost the opener.
In and of itself, this is no big deal.
I'm convinced the Texans are a formidable team, and I predicted this game as a loss months ago, and followed that up on Friday. The Texans made winning this game the focal point of their season. That was likely a mistake that will cost them down the road.
Many fans will be up in arms today over the play of the offensive line. There's definitely good reason for that. Several members of the line had awful games. Ryan Diem did his best to make sure that Peyton Manning got killed. Jamie Richard looked lost. Charlie Johnson played poorly. Even Jeff Saturday picked up a key holding penalty. Many of these struggles are to be expected. Continuity is more important to a line than any individual player, and yesterday was the first time those five players had played together since the beginning of camp, if then. Honestly, I don't know if that particular iteration of the line had ever played together.
Fans will also be justifiably upset over the performance of the defense. Words can't describe how terrible the line and the linebackers played in the second half. Larry Coyer got thoroughly out-coached on the half time adjustments. The secondary played reasonably well, especially Jerraud Powers who seemed to make every big run stop. The rest of the D simply did not show up for the second half. On the key play of the game, a 4th and 1 from the 20 for the Texans, the Colts bottled up Texans RB Arian Foster. Normally, that equates to a stop, but on this day, Clint Session somehow failed to seal the edge and Foster managed to squirt free for the first down.
Truthfully though, I'm not worried about the defense. Yes, they played significantly worse than I expected, but we've seen games like this before from the Colts. Any time there is something out of sync with the linebackers, suddenly the rushing yards come in bunches. The corners looked solid (other than one awful play by Hayden), and Freeney and Mathis both made plays at big moments. For now, I'll assume that whatever glitch the Texans exploited today will be fixed next week.
All in all, it was a tough loss, but the loss itself does not worry me.