If you listened to the special Pancakes Podcast regarding the new Colts site, Colts Authority, you would have heard yours truly on for about twenty minutes to talk about Coltsider and the merger. One of the things I mentioned was something I'd be doing was a weekly breakdown of an article I vehemently disagreed with, and why I thought they were wrong. I always enjoy a lively debate, and I suppose this is my way of getting my fill in every week.
Fittingly, Indy Star columnist Bob Kravitz wrote an article (on Thanksgiving no less) last week that fit the bill for this new series perfectly. If you'll notice the title is "The BP Watch." No, this does not stand for Bill Polian, but rather it was inspired by this hilarious tweet by Jim Irsay:
Turkey,family,NFLFootball! Kravitz is full of barn poop this morn,I'll aim below the waist on rink,shots2goal,on him;he's still my friend:)
So, I give to you, the first installment in the "Barn Poop" watch: Bob Kravitz' claim that the Colts are tanking.
Now, I don't know whether Kravitz actually believes this or not. His job as a columnist is to write opinionated articles that get strong reactions from people, either positive or negative. This was clearly a case of the latter. Kravitz leads off with an interesting statement:
The Indianapolis Colts are tanking. That became official Wednesday when we learned Curtis Painter would be the starting quarterback once again Sunday against Carolina. The Polian-led front office and the coach, Jim Caldwell, sent a loud, clear message, not only to the fans and the rest of the NFL, but to every man in that locker room that winning is no longer a priority.
Obviously, Kravitz is implying here that by starting backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, the Colts would be doing the opposite: sending a clear message that winning is a priority.
Let that marinate for a moment.
The only way the Colts can show that winning is a priority is by starting Dan Orlovsky. You know... this guy? I really feel like I shouldn't need to continue, but Kravitz just keeps it coming.
For the second time in three years, the Colts' powers-that-be have abandoned this team, first by taking away a chance to have a perfect season, and now by placing them in the crosshairs of an ignominiously imperfect season.
Comparing 2011 to 2009 has been done far too often in the past 11 weeks, and each time it gets more ridiculous. The coaches and front office weren't "abandoning" the team in 2009, just doing what they thought was best to win a championship. Whether the strategy was right or wrong is a different matter, but to say they "abandoned" them, or linking it to intentionally losing games in 2011 is lazy and misleading. Kravitz then moves on to criticizing the announcement by quoting Jim Caldwell.
"Curtis hasn't played a lot of football for us; I think he's got to be given a good, clear opportunity," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of things that happen during the course of a game that haven't always been his fault. I need to do a better job of helping him do what he does . . . and get it a little more tailored to his strengths. I didn't feel he's had a good opportunity to do that yet. . . . He's developing."
Kravitz keys in on that last sentence, saying that Painter has been awful, and indeed, he has. Painter's had some good moments, but overall, he's sucked. But Kravitz completely ignores the first half of what Caldwell says, basically where Caldwell says what many of us fans have been saying for weeks: that the coaches have done a terrible job of adjusting to having a non-Peyton Manning quarterback.
Caldwell was absolutely right when he said that he needed to adjust better. The Colts had put Painter in a position to fail. He's not Manning. He never will be. Treating him as such would never work. To be fair, Caldwell seemed to learn for this past weeks game, relying more on the run game throughout the game. But, at the end of the game, on the final three drives, the Colts got pass happy again, most notably on first and goal at the three yard line. Back to Kravitz.
Look, we don't know if Dan Orlovsky can play. But don't you need to find out?
This is possibly one of my favorite lines from the article, because of its hilarity. We don't know if Orlovsky can play? Orlovsky is a seven-year veteran. He backed up Joey Harrington and led the first 0-16 team in league history. He was awful in the preseason for the Colts, and he's been bad when he's been in during the tail end of regular season games. We know what we have in Orlovsky far more than we know what we have in Painter (and I'm pretty sure we know what we have in Painter). He's had seven years to show what he can do (which is nothing).
Don't you owe it to the other players in that locker room to try something different? Yes, and yes. What have the Colts done? Nothing. What has Caldwell done? Nothing. Nothing different, nothing radical, nothing creative.
On these points, I absolutely agree with Kravitz. Caldwell has failed to adjust to anything this season, and it's a big reason why the Colts are winless. But the adjustment of Orlovsky/Painter isn't anywhere near the top of the list of effective adjustments.
What could the Colts adjust? HOW ABOUT RUNNING THE FRIGGIN BALL? How about not calling some of the worst defensive stunts I've ever seen? How about coaching some special teams so Pat McAfee isn't the leading tackler? What if the Colts actually won a third quarter? What if the Colts utilized the strengths of players like Jerry Hughes, Phillip Wheeler, Delone Carter, and Donald Brown, instead of limiting them? How about going for a fourth and short in the opponent's territory?
There's an unending list of adjustments that should be made by the coaching staff that haven't. Swapping Orlovsky and Painter isn't anywhere near the top of that list. The fact that the coaches haven't made them isn't a sign of tanking, it's a sign that they are bad coaches. But this isn't really about tanking is it? No. It's about Kravitz getting his shots in at the Polians.
This is nothing less than a function of stubbornness and pig-headedness by the guys who run this show, Bill and Chris Polian. Bill keeps saying he sees an improving quarterback when he watches the film, which makes me wonder: Who's editing the game film -- Fellini? With Bill in particular, it's all about being "vindicated." It's all about being able to say he was right.
The Colts stand by their guys in the middle of the season. That's how it is. The coaches and FO are going to defend their quarterback. If you can't take that with a grain of salt, then that's your problem, not the Colts'.
But what really bothers me is this misguided notion that every roster move, every coaching move is to boost Polian's ego. What evidence do we have of that? If Polian wanted to be vindicated, why bring in Collins for $4 million dollars (Wouldn't it have been more vindication to stick with Painter)? Why bring in Orlovsky at all when Collins was effectively benched (Collins and Painter would be far better for "vindication" than Orlovsky)? Why did it take so long for Brown to get off the bench? Why is Anthony Gonzalez still on the bench? None of those things, along with others, fit with this rhetoric that every roster and coaching move is controlled by Bill Polian to stroke his own ego.
But those thoughts are conveniently left out during this discussion. Nowhere in his article does Kravitz actually provide evidence that the Colts are tanking. Nowhere. The only thing he wants to point to is that Painter is still starting. To claim that the Colts are intentionally losing games, that they are inherently "fixing" the outcomes of games is a huge, mind-blowing claim that is most likely wrong. To base that entire claim on the choice between Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky is asinine, and just plain lazy.
And that's why Jim Irsay was absolutely right: this article is full of barn poop.