Stew Blake is unavailable for this week's "The Stew," so I'm writing it in place of him this week. In light of that, the weekly roundup will be pushed back until Tuesday. For the record however, my pick is Detroit over Chicago, 27-20.
Well, that was a disappointment, through and through.
Once again, the Colts fade down the stretch, and once again, they allow their opponent to come back and win the game.
Only this time, the Colts were facing the Kansas City Chiefs, a team who has rivaled the Colts in early ineptitude. This time, the Colts had a 17 point lead, TWICE! This time, the offense was largely effective, unlike the previous four games. There was no Ben Roethlisberger or LeGarrette Blount to kill the Colts, there was only Matt Cassel and Jackie Battle, a 4th string running back.
But, the Colts found a way to blow it. And that's quietly becoming a theme to this season. Whether that's a coaching thing, an attitude thing, or just dumb luck, the Colts cannot close out games.
But, I'm done rambling. On to the feast!
The Main Ingredients:
Curtis Painter: This is the guy that we need under center for the rest of the year, not Kerry Collins, and definitely not Dan "I don't know where the back of the endzone is" Orlovsky. Painter played a great game, by 2011's standards, throwing for 277 yards on 15-27, with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His numbers would have been better, but a few drops by Dallas Clark in the second half and a missed holding call on the final offensive play held him back. This was the best quarterback play we've seen all season, and it was more than well enough to win. Painter was looking confident, hitting his throws, and generally making the right reads. He took care of the ball and was efficient, more than what I ever expected from him. I'm ecstatic to get that kind of play from him. If the Colts get that for the previous four games, they're 3-2 right now.
The Offensive Line:The offensive line, cast-offs and all, played tremendously yesterday. With Jeff Linkenbach at left tackle, and newcomer Quinn Ojinnaka holding down the right side, Curtis Painter escaped the game unscathed. That's right, after giving up 10 sacks over the previous four games, the Colts ended Sunday's game without allowing one. This was a huge reason why Painter was able to play as well as he did. While the run blocking was "meh" once again (26 rushes for 79 yards from the running backs), the pass protection was wonderful all game.
Pierre Garcon: Once again, Garcon came to play. This week, Garcon had five catches for 125 yards, with another pair of touchdowns. He didn't have any killer drops this week, showing good hands and great awareness after the catch. Him and Painter have a noticeable chemistry, and he's been the best receiver since Painter came in.
Dwight Freeney: Even while drawing double teams all day, even a triple team at one point, Freeney managed to accrue four tackles and 1.5 sacks on the day. His presence drew the attention of Kansas City on every passing play, and should have opened up more opportunities for other rushers.
Reggie Wayne: Wayne had a very good first half, with four catches for 77 yards. But he disappeared during the second half, when the Colts needed him most. His connection with Painter is only rivaled by Pierre Garcon's, but Wayne couldn't get anything in the second half (although Painter did miss him a few times).
Donald Brown: We have a Donald Brown sighting! Brown came in the game after Joseph Addai's hamstring injury, and played decently, getting 38 yards on just eight carries. Of course, that was helped by a 16 yard scamper, but even so, Brown played better than rookie Delone Carter. Brown's blocking was solid as well.
Robert Mathis: Mathis managed to combine with Freeney for a sack, and got four tackles, but we should have seen more from him with Freeney getting so much attention.
Pat Angerer: Once again got double-digit tackles with 15, but didn't play as well as the previous two weeks overall, especially in the third quarter when the Colts got gashed by the run.
The Spoiled Goods:
Jim Caldwell: Once again he's on this list, as the Colts once again fail to adjust in the second half. The Colts were outscored 14-0 in the second half, and have now been outscored 57-24 in the last four games, all lost by a touchdown or less (only TB game was more than four points). His decision to punt in the fourth quarter (before an offsides call gave him a second chance) was similar to last week's debacle. The defense has looked like it needed adjustments in both of the last two games, and Caldwell is failing to step in and make the call when Coyer doesn't. Caldwell's in-game skills are just abhorrent.
Larry Coyer: Jacob Lacey shouldn't be on Pro Bowl WR Dwayne Bowe. Ever. Why Coyer refuses to put our best corner (Jerraud Powers) on the best receiver is beyond me. It's simply baffling. And why in the world is Chris Rucker in the game on the game-winning touchdown pass? What happened to Kevin Thomas and Terrence Johnson? Both of them looked better in the preseason, but Thomas has been MIA all season, for reasons unknown to me. Coyer needs to make some adjustments, call some blitzes, anything! If anyone needs to go on this coaching staff (and they do), it's Coyer.
The Secondary: They got tore up. Even Antoine Bethea, normally sure tackler, got his ankles broken on Bowe's 41-yard TD. Jacob Lacey, inexplicably on Bowe, got wrecked. The injury to Jerraud Powers just limits the already thin stable of CBs, and the waiving of Justin Tryon is looking more and more ridiculous. This secondary needs to be the first thing to address in the offseason, because it is flat-out awful.
Run Defense: With Jackie Battle looking eerily like LeGarrette Blount of last week, the loss of Foster and Nevis really showed this week, especially in that horrendous third quarter. The LB's couldn't get to holes because the linemen were blasting through the first and second levels.
Officials: The crew just couldn't seem to get anything right, whether it was missing on the obvious hold on Anthony Gonzalez, or just simply looking inept all game with ridiculously long discussions about calls that didn't affect the game. I'm not blaming the officials (that goes to the defense), it just added to an already depressing game.
The Final Product
Colts 24- Chiefs 28
The Colts blew another late lead, and there is a lot of changes that need to be made, Manning or no Manning.