Colts 31 - Titans 9
Colts 31 - Titans 9
Welcome to week five of the NFL. The Jaguars went down hard today (surprise, surprise). The Texans lost in heartbreaking fashion at Arizona. The Patriots and Ravens fell as well. It has been a good day, thus far. The game is about to start. Time to find my place of zen.
1. The theme song plays. They briefly flash each team's record on the screen. We know the records are meaningless... but I have a feeling Al and Chris will be mentioning the "winless" Titans non-stop tonight. What other story line is there? I'm ready for a street-brawl kind of game. Should be fun. "Field goals are wins," says Jeff Fisher. Tony Ugoh will start says Andrea Kramer.
Rushing is a step from a big return. Colts start at the 23. Game starts with a major injury timeout for Craig Stevens of the Titans. Short toss to Clark to get things going. Nothing doing for Addai, Ugoh didn't hold his block very long. Really nice footwork from Peyton as he buys times and hits Addai for the first down. Addai right for three. Big pressure on second down, Peyton throws it away, takes a big hit. Quick toss to Clark, well short. Punt. Touchback.
2. Swing to Johnson for four. Holding call wipes out a short run for Johnson. Draw to Johnson. 3rd and 8. Blitz. Big first down to Bo Scaife. Simply a huge play early on. FUMBLE. Big hit by Bethea on Crumpler.
3. Colts get good starting position after the fumble. Addai for 6. Offsides. First down. Nearly picked. Gijon was held. Manning throws it away on second down. Ugoh is struggling early. Addai is short on a pass on third down. Looked like a bad spot. Colts will go on fourth. Manning designed rollout out right.... TOUCHDOWN Reggie Wayne. Jim Caldwell passes a crucial test in a big, big way.
4. Screen for 7 yards. CLINT SESSION whacks Chris Johnson. Big guy. Third and two and Kerry Collins throws at Kenny Britt's ankle. Ugly. Punt. Ball hits Jennings in the back. Titans ball. Just an unforgivable mistake on a fair catch attempt by Rushing. Holding call on a Johnson run. Why don't the Colts decline it to set up 3rd and long? Weird. 2nd and 14 instead. Terrible coaching decision there. Instead its 3rd and 4 after a completion. Lost four yards on the exchange. Incomplete to Gage. Field Goal. Jennings costs the Colts three points. Colts lead 7 - 3.
5. Colts will start at the 20. Clark down the seem for big money. Brown for 5 yards. Past midfield. Manning hit as he throws, interception. That is all on Tony Ugoh, who is playing a horrible game.
6. Johnson for 4. Bullit makes a great tackle on second down on Johnson. Another holding call. 2nd and 16. False start. 2nd and 21. White for a couple. 3rd and 19. Offsides - declined. Scaife for 17 yards. Field Goal. Colts lead 7 - 6. The defense is playing well, but the Colts have given up 6 points off two turnovers. That's a recipe for getting beat by a lesser team.
7. FUMBLE by Rushing on the kickoff. His elbow was down. Thank goodness. Addai for a loss of 7.
1. The Colts offensive line of 2008 has decided to make an unwanted appearance. Addai for four yards. Addai for 13 yards. He needed 14. Couple of desperate looking plays there. No time at all. Punt.
2. Titans start at the 32. The old bullshit defensive holding call (on a run). I never see that flag thrown on anyone, but the Colts D. White for six. White for three. 3rd and 1. Deep incomplete for Gage. Weird playcall, unless you plan on going for it on fourth down. Punt.
3. Colts will start at the 20. The offense needs at least one first down to take some pressure off the defense. Wow. Wow. Wow. Horrible play. I won't waste time describing it, but a block in the back negates it anyway. Brown for 5. 2nd and 14. Short toss to Clark for 5. 3rd and 8. They give Peyton time and he finds Collie for 13 yards. Screen to Collie for 9 is nearly wiped by yet another flag on Garcon. Flag is picked up. Addai for four and a first down. Wayne for 12 along the sidelines. Manning is getting a little time now. Past midfield. Addai for 4 yards. Clark for 7 and first down on a shoestring kinda deal. Tons of pressure, but Manning finds Addai for 6 on a dump. Wayne on a slant to the five. 19 yard gain. Addai inside the one. Substitutions. Touchdown Joseph Addai. The upside of Ugoh? His run blocking is very solid. That time he sticks a trap block to make a huge hole for Joe.
4. Touchback. Big gainer to Nate Washington to midfield. Johnson for 3. Johnson drops a short pass. 3rd and 7. Huge play here. Timeout, Tennessee. Washington picks it up. Way too much time for Collins. Brackett spills Crumpler for a short gain. Two minute warning. 3rd and 10 after Lacey climbs Gage's back to knock one away in the end zone. JENNINGS. Drops an easy pick after the Colts blitz. Colts lead 14 - 9. A very disappointing 14-9, I might add.
5. Flag on the kickoff. Illegal wedge on Ugoh. So much has one wrong in the first half, and yet the Colts lead. They must be a pretty good team. Vanden Bosch goes at Peyton's knees. Scary moment. Personal foul. Addai gets out of bounds for six. Finds him again for three yards. Timeout. Big third down. Addai for four and first down. Second timeout. Ball is on the Colts 43. Addai out of bounds for a short gain. Another roughing the passer penalty, this one on Ford. PEYTON TO COLLIE. 39 yard touchdown. 93 yard drive. That was beautiful. Colts lead 21-9.
The Colts get a huge drive just before the half to open up a 12 point lead. You can't turn the ball over twice, but all things considered I think Jim Caldwell can live with what he saw. The D is hitting. The O is finding ways to move the ball. Joe Addai had 8 catches for 50 yards. Most of them helped Peyton avoid taking a sack. Clark has been a safety valve as well, with six catches for 55 yards. The run game isn't producing yards, but it is picking up first downs (and a touchdown). Should be an epic second half.
1. Touchback. Titans ball at the 20. Tim Jennings! A huge pick on third and 6. Colts ball.
2. Addai is banged up on a short gain of 3. A big loss if he can't return. He's been bailing Manning out all night. Brown snags a pass and picks up a big first down. Collie for 7 yards. Ball on the Tennessee 13. Harper is shaken up. 2nd and 3. Need to cash this in. Pass is tipped at the line. Manning swats it away harmlessly. 3rd and 3. Holy smokes they run it with Brown! We haven't seen that in a long time. First down. Offsides. 1st and goal from the 5. Brown for 3 yards. Holding on Pollak. 1st and goal from the 15. Screen to Garcon for 10 yards. 2nd and goal from the 6. TOUCHDOWN AUSTIN COLLIE. Looped it over the entire defense and Collie gets his feet in. Colts lead 28-9.
3. Having technical difficulties. Big third and 3 at midfield. Wow. Tons of pressure and Collins throws up a prayer that is answered by Justin Gage. Huge play. Huge. The pressure is starting to get to Collins, though. Johnson for 5. Third and five. Incomplete, good pressure forced a quick throw. Poor throw. Titans go for it on fourth down. Incomplete. Jennings wants a flag. Comical. Colts ball.
4. False start. 1st and 15. Really nice run by Brown for 7 yards. Very patient. Incomplete to Brown. 3rd and 8. Brown for 4 on a pass to the sidelines. Punt. Great punt and even better coverage. Titans will start at the 8.
5. Kenny Britt with a first down past the twenty. Titans need 7 here, and quickly. White for 6. Britt for another first. Titans are driving. 2nd and 2. Big sack by Freeney. BIG DAMN SACK. 3rd and 11. Offsides on Freeney. 3rd and 6. IT HITS LACEY IN THE HANDS. Ugly throw, worse catch by the rookie. Punt. Rushing fair catches at the 25.
6. The Colts are dumping off on almost every play. First to Addai then to Clark. Personal Foul. Facemask. Ball at midfield.
1. The Titans need three touchdowns to take the lead. Too bad the Colts have the ball with only 15:00 to play. Manning deep, overthrown. Addai for six on the draw. 3rd and 3. Just enough time to find Wayne behind the defense for 15 yards and a big third down. Addai loses one yard. Manning rolls out to find Collie along the right sidelines for 5 yards. Third and 6. Delay. Third and 11. Manning buys time and hits Clark for a HUGE FIRST DOWN. Ball is on the 22. Addai is stuffed. Screen to Wayne for four. 3rd and 7. Collie is having a giant night. First down inside the ten. Addai for 3 yards. Clock is really moving now. Timeout. 2nd and goal. Addai for short gain on yet another catch. Wayne drops a touchdown on third down. Crap. Oh well. The Colts lead 31-9 with just 7:32 to play.
2. VY!! VY is in! Jennings drops a pick. If he had mitts, he'd have three tonight. White for 5. Young on a nice scramble for 6 yards. Session is hurt. More VY please. White for 8 yards. 3rd and 3. Session breaks it up. Punt. Rushing tackled immediately at the 21. Willing Manning get his 300 yards?
3. Kind of wish the Colts would punt so we could watch more Vince Young. (I love the clips of the pre-game wildcat warm-up, btw). Brown is stuffed. Manning to Wayne for the first down and 300 yards. Nice. Colts are rolling picking up first downs and generally dominating the Titans. I am impressed. I thought the O-line might be their undoing, but Peyton was very patient and found Addai and Clark over and over. Collie was the game-breaker, though, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Neither Hayden (hamstring) nor Jackson (knee) accompanied the team to Nashville. But Sanders (knee) and offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (knee) made the trip. Sanders still is listed as doubtful while Johnson is questionable.
Boo, as they say, Yah.
Let's hope nothing tightens up on the short flight.
It's early, but who cares? Here's our take on who to root for in week 5:
Bengals at Ravens
In theory, it would be better for the Ravens to win since the Colts play the Ravens, but let's be honest: no one really thinks the Bengals are a threat for a bye. I think everyone would like to see the Ravens drop this game. Personally, I think their defense is a major question mark right now. Seriously. They miss Rex Ryan.
These three are all easy to figure. AFC team at NFC team. Even one win out of the three would be helpful. Two of them should be tough, close games...I'll let you guess which ones...
NY Jets at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are at 1-3 so normally, I'd favor them over a 3-1 team. But in this case, a win would possibly put the Pats back on top of the AFC East. The Jets are (in theory) a top contender. Personally, I'll pull for the Jets because if worse came to worse, I'd rather play Matt Sanchez on the road in January than at New England.
New England at Denver
Same thing as last week. I'm not making that mistake again. I'm rooting for the Broncos. I don't think they win, but at least I won't feel dirty after the game.
Last week's give and take with Seahawkaddicts.com was well received, so this week were are giving you a double dose. I asked the same questions to two different Titans blogs. The first is Total Titans on the MVN network. You may remember this blog for its excellent breakdown of Collins' 15 straight incomplete passes a couple of weeks ago. Total Titans asked some questions of yours truly as well. Be sure to head over and check out my answers.
I also hooked up with the Bloguin network blog Titans Tracker, which is run by a big VY fan. Always an interesting exchange there. He also hit me up for some Colts knowledge which I dropped like I was Braylon Edwards. Be sure to visit both sites as they asked different questions. Here's what they had to say about Sunday's game:
DZ: 1. What has happened to the Titans secondary? How do you go from 12 TD passes in 16 games to 10 in four games?
Actually, being 18 largely sucked, so I wouldn't want to relive that. But I have posted this week's 18 Plays podcast brought to you by Broad Ripple Tree Service. Demond and I enthusiastically break down 18 plays from Sunday's beat down of the Seahawks.
Once again, you can download the podcast by clicking the link; you can hit the embedded player below, or you can subscribe using ITunes. All are acceptable and wonderful ways to partake of 18 Plays. By the way, we keep an archive of old podcasts above, so you can always go back and pick up what you missed
One note and bear in mind that I have no evidence for this:
I'd bet that Bob Sanders plays Sunday. Seriously
folks people (sorry, I wrote this late last night), Polian and Caldwell want this game. They probably held him off the PUP JUST for this game. I have a feeling the Colts are going to come out strong on Sunday and play this game to win hard. I'm expecting to see all hands on deck. That includes Bob Sanders. And yes, he does matter that much. Don't make the mistake of forgetting how good this guy is.
Here the statistical loose ends I've been pondering for the last couple of days:
1. Is there anyone out there who still blames Addai for the run game? Through four weeks, you couldn't get two backs more similar than Addai and Brown:
Addai has been a little better than Brown, but the difference is negligible. Brown had the one long catch and run against Arizona, but it was such a blown coverage, it's hard to argue that Addai wouldn't have done the same thing had he been in the game.
2. The line has been markedly better according to FO. The pass pro is 2nd in the league (yawn), but the run blocking is up to 12th. The Colts are 13th in power running, but still getting stuffed 24% of the time (27th in the league). The Colts are more effective up the middle than running around either end. The stretch play hasn't been working well in terms of generating yards, but the play action has been devastating.
3. The Colts still aren't getting off the field on third down. They are 31st in the league in third down defense. I've been scrambling to find out if they average yards to go on third down has increased over last year, but I can't find that stat anywhere. My perception is that the Colts are giving up more third and mediums/third and longs than last year. I attribute that directly to injuries to the secondary. Sanders, Hayden, and Brackett should help that third down conversion rate. Jennings, Bullitt, and Keiaho have played solid in their absence, but I would expect this team to start getting off the field more when they add three elite coverage players.
4. A note on Tom Brady: This is who is he is folks. More to the point, this is who he's always been. I marvel that people act like there is something wrong with him. He's not the guy who played out of his mind against weak teams for 10 weeks in 2007. He's this guy. His accuracy? Totally normal for him. He's completing 62.1% of his passes, that's the same or better than he did during the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 seasons. His YPA is a smidge down (6.5), but considering that apart from 2007, his career YPA is only 7.0, it's not that out of line. His TD and INT % are a little down, but it's early. His DVOA numbers are about where they were in 2005, and much better than 2003 or earlier. The Pats are 3-1. Brady isn't putting up numbers. Isn't that who he always was? 2007 was an utter mirage. It was never realistic to expect him to throw for 4500 yards and 36 TDs. He's not that guy.
Tom Brady is back. Or doesn't anyone remember?
5. The Colts schedule looks very manageable. Right, right, I know all games are tough in the NFL, but let's face it, some games are tougher than others. Indy has 6 road games left. The teams they play are a combined 8-15, with only Baltimore having a winning record. They play two winless teams on the road. The home slate? A little tougher: 15-9.
6. The AFC South has been a trainwreck. Apart from the Colts, the division has a total of ONE win against other divisions (Houston beat mighty Oakland). The other three teams are 1-4 against non-South teams.
7. Pierre Garcon has been great. He also has an astounding 6 penalties (true count) in 4 games. He has at least one penalty in every game this year. He still has a ways to go. If he were an offensive line man, everyone would be crucifying him. I love that both he and Collie have improved their catch rate though, and both have good DVOA numbers. That's a big improvement.
Finally, I don't understand the Bob Sanders angst out there in certain quarters. 2006 was not that long ago. I'd think people would chill out and realize that as long as he's back in January, we can make due in the short run. Sanders is not a terribly expensive player. His absence isn't hurting the team (though his presence will help). I'm not sure why everyone gets all whiny about him missing practice time and games early in the season.
I've always loved High Fidelity.
One of my favorite scenes is when Laura remarks that what Rob is doing by releasing an album to the world is special because he's always been a critic, but by producing a record, he's made himself part of the discussion.
So, recently I accepted a side gig by writing for Cold Hard Football Facts Monday Morning Hangover. This week you'll see that I covered the Jags/Titans and Jets/Saints. Some poor guy from Seattle had to write about how great Peyton Manning is for once.
But instead of accolades, it seems that some people have the gall and temerity (not just gall mind you, but temerity as well) to dislike the piece that I so dutifully research every week. CHFF's own Omnidouche (note: it's actually Ombudsdouche, but I originally wrote what I wrote and have decided that it's funnier this way) has very unkind things to say about the people that write for the Hangover. In fact, he does a remarkable job of reproducing the IQ Test I had to pass in order to write for CHFF. How did he know I worship Chad Pennington?
In fairness, I realize that most of what I write is heavily edited so I can't take it personally when someone doesn't like the final product. I also have to realize that you can't please everyone all the time. But in my defense, let me just point out that I've had to write about the Jacksonville Jaguars for four consecutive weeks, so I'm doing the best with what I have got to work with. If nothing else, I feel that by contributing over there has lead to more pro-Manning environment. Well that and #18 playing like few men in history ever have.
Anyway, I'm so hurt by the ripping the Ombudsdouche gave me that I've decided not to write for the Hangover next week. Well, that and the fact that I'm traveling to a small town in Argentina and can't vouch for my internet connection, but acting like I'm mad makes for a more high drama blog post.
For better or worse, I've put myself out there. I can't imagine the angst I'll feel if I ever get my book published. Now I know how Bob Kravitz feels. Maybe I should be nicer to him...
I'm a fan. Which means that as soon as one victory is notched, next week's game starts to worry me. I started thinking about the Titans game during the second quarter of the Seahawks games. Sad, but true. By that point it was already pretty clear the Colts would be 4-0 heading into a Sunday night game against the 0-4 and reeling Titans. I immediately thought about Jeff Fisher, and how he's the last coach I'd want to face in an end-of-the-world scenario. Jeff Fisher doesn't give a crap. His only motivation is to win. He doesn't worry about being fired or what the press will say.
In 2004, I sat in my RCA Dome seat aghast as Fisher's team kicked onsides three times in the first quarter of a game. The Titans later faked a punt. I was furious. I was scared. I was impressed.
And that's why I won't sleep well Saturday night. Jeff Fisher was born to survive the apocalypse. Can the Titans be beaten? Yes, obviously. But the Colts will have to pass a test first. The Titans secondary is banged up and playing badly. It will be tough to beat the Colts playing straight up. Which means Jeff Fisher is going to do something crazy on Sunday. Something crazy smart.
Here are some brainstormed ideas of what we might see (it won't be any of these):
1. Jeff Fisher will go for it on every fourth down fewer than five yards.
2. Jeff Fisher will bench Chris Johnson and throw on every down.
3. Jeff Fisher will punt on first down.
4. Jeff Fisher will let Vince Young step onto the football field.
5. Jeff Fisher will shoot taze Peyton Manning.
DZ COMMENTS: You have to think we'll see VY in a wildcat set up, right? That's going to happen for sure. He sucks, but he always played better against the Colts.
Ten thoughts from Week Four:
1. The tribute to Edgerrin James was the best moment of the day for me. The crowd was screaming like the Colts had just won a nail-biter. They packed some amazing highlights into the short tribute video. You could tell how much it meant to #32. Manning said he was almost choked up out there.
2. Offensively the Colts were consistent. They moved the ball well all game, but seemed a bit disinterested after the lead grew to 25 points. Garcon and Collie continue to improve. Addai is getting his groove back. I still don't like all the runs to the outside. It just isn't working. Despite some obvious flaws, I'm giving the run game the benefit of the doubt. The Colts are finally notching rushing touchdowns and even picked up four rushing first downs.
3. Defensively, I'm impressed. The tackling has been stellar thus far. Lots of effort plays being made (Foster and Mathis come to mind). I'll take 49 yards on 19 rushes any day. Still not in love with Tim Jennings, but the secondary will get much better with Kelvin Hayden's imminent return.
4. Tennessee. The true dumpster fire. Allowing over 300 yards passing to Garrard? No interceptions? Guess we know the game plan for next Sunday night. (Fun fact: The Colts next two opponents are a combined 0-8).
5. Denver is 4-0, but they are really hard to watch. Their next seven games? New England, @San Diego, @Baltimore, Pittsburgh, @Washington, San Diego, NY Giants. Good luck with that.
6. The Jets can play some defense, but the team itself doesn't scare me. Sanchez looked horrible.
7. The November 15th game against the Pats is shaping up to be a big one. That is as it should be.
8. I don't get the retractable roof at Lucas Oil. Most estimates put its cost at over $100 million, but it gets used for just two games a year. It is nice and all, but I'd rather have that money back.
9. How good are the Colts? We are learning more each week, but it is still too early to know. I'm seeing 12 wins on the schedule at this point. I think the five remaining AFC South games will be difficult.
10. There are a lot of unknowns, but 4-0 looks really good right now.
Here are 8 more. If ever there was a day to keep with the '18' theme, it was today.
maybe it's just self preservation, but I admit that while I thought the team could be THIS good for about a week, I got skittish during camp. I'm still not sold that the run game is quite good enough yet, but it's clearly better than it was last year. It's the best of all worlds right now: excellent, championship play, but room to improve and get better.