Jim Caldwell is a brave man. He just promised Colts fans everywhere that the 2009 Colts are going to win the Super Bowl. And woe unto him if he doesn't fulfill that promise. Unfair on our part? Yes. Caldwell was just doing what he thought was best for his team. Unwise on his part? Yes, I think it was terribly unwise.
What we saw today at Lucas Oil Stadium was political suicide. Fans aren't fair. Fans aren't rational. Fans don't care if you start your head coaching career 14-0. In Indianapolis that generates less goodwill than you might think... especially when you willfully throw away a chance at a perfect 19-0 season.
20 minutes to play. A 15-10 lead. An all-pro quarterback who is torching the best pass D in the league. A rookie quarterback on the opposing sideline who has no chance of beating you. What the hell were you thinking, Jim Caldwell? You brave son of a bitch.
Me? I'll get over it. I was emotionally prepared for this decision. I sent DZ a stream of IM'ed profanities, for which I apologize.
The fans of Indianapolis? Some will get over it tonight. Some will get over it by the kickoff of the divisional round. But some will never get over it. Some fans will never forgive Jim Caldwell. That's just the nature of being a fan.
I've been pro-rest from the beginning, but Caldwell BUTCHERED this call.
1. If you are going to rest players, you tell everyone ahead of time. The air of disappointment that hung over the stadium was palpable. It felt like quitting.
2. Don't pull Manning when he hasn't been hit but once or twice the whole game. There was no point to it.
3. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, if you are going to pull your starters DON'T PUNT ON FOURTH AND THREE in the first half! What sense does that make? Why give up on one of the few offensive possessions you have left when you know you can't play a stupid field position game because you have to put up points fast.
4. Don't do that to a rookie QB. It was inhumane and foolish. You have to tell people ahead of time that he's going to be playing so the crowd knows it. I predict he never becomes a quality NFL backup after what he's going to go through emotionally after these weeks. Curtis Painter is a third string emergency QB. He has zero business playing meaningful snaps in the NFL.
5. If you rest players, you do it from the start. Don't pull the rug out from the crowd. Make it a blow out. Don't taunt them with how attainable the win is and then yank it away. That just pisses people off.
6. Don't do it in week 16. You want to pull people in the finale, fine. They can channel the frustration and anger into playoff prep. As it is, it will just fester for the better part of a month.
7. Don't do this in a way that will create MORE controversy and distraction than 16-0 would have. Whatever the Colts gained by removing the pressure of 16-0, they lost in the firestorm to follow. Stupid.
This was poorly handled in every possible way. Again, I have no problem with the decision to rest, just the timing and execution of the plan. This felt like an "EFF YOU!" to the fans because of the way it was done. People are going to have a hard time getting back behind this team, and the effects will be felt in the crowd in the playoffs. There are going to be consequences for handling things this poorly.
I can only hope the team bails them out.