Right guard Mike Pollak and right tackle Jeff Linkenbach prepare to block pre-snap. (Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images)
No unit on the football field lives and dies by the concept that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link more than the offensive line. When one player screws up an assignment along the line it can cause a total breakdown in protection.
Since Tarik Glenn retired following the 2006 Super Bowl Championship season, the Colts have played at least one offensive lineman out of position. Charlie Johnson, the Colts starting left tackle in 2009 and 2010, is not a true NFL-caliber left tackle and was not acquired to play that position. He had success at right tackle in the Super Bowl when Ryan Diem went down with an injury and has looked good at the guard positions, but left tackle is asking Johnson to play over his head. More >
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri celebrates after he hits a would-be game winning 50-yard field goal. (Andy Lyons | Getty Images)
After a painful sixteen game regular season — rife with injuries, frustrating slumps, and a lack of identity — the Colts 2010 effort officially ended Saturday night after a last minute drive that was capped by a Jets field goal. What makes the loss difficult to take — even though most fans realized the team’s playoff berth was an admirable accomplishment in its own right — is that the Colts should have won.
The initial fan reaction to the game has been all over the board, with fingers pointing in different directions. Some argue that the defense is responsible for the loss because they allowed the Jets to keep the ball for a vast majority of the second half, and yielded over 150 yards on the ground.
Others blame the Indianapolis special teams units for making costly mistakes and allowing long returns, specifically Antonio Cromartie’s long return on the final drive of the game that allowed the Jets to have a short field for a field goal try.
Still others insist that Coach Caldwell is primarily responsible for calling an ill-advised timeout with less than 30 seconds to go, which allowed the Jets offense to get their heads together for a back-breaking first down play that made shaky place kicker Nick Folk’s job much easier.
The reality is, all of these fans are right to a degree, but none of them — even taken together — completely explain how the Colts managed to let this game slip away. More >
One of Pierre Garcon's two touchdowns against the Titans. (Joe Howell | AP Photo)
- Manning kept the pace slow and steady, able to eschew the no-huddle, hurry-up offense because the Colts held the lead.
- The slower pace and more frequent huddles contributed to the rookies’ ability to keep up.
- The Colts ran more than in the prior 3 games, in part because they had the luxury to do so because they had the lead, but even with a smaller lead the Colts kept at it.
- Forced into the LT position when Charlie Johnson injured his shoulder, Jeff Linkenbach put in a good performance… might we see him more at that position going forward?
- The defense was not very good tonight, allowing Tennessee, who had been held to 13 touchdown-less quarters, to score 4 touchdowns in the game. But frankly, on a short week, against a familiar opponent, and in the NFL… you can hope for a shut-out, but don’t expect one. More >
After the debacle against the Chargers, and the heart breaker against the Patriots, the Colts dropped another game. They gave the Cowboys 17 points to start the contest, and had the chance to pull out a last minute victory on three occasions. Unlike previous weeks, no single unit can carry all of the blame.
The Colts had multiple series where one good play after another would get completely erased by a horrible play or decision. Manning threw interceptions on the heels of key defensive stands, Eric Foster jumped on top of an opponent to negate an amazing goal line stand, and Wayne tallied his only drop to erase a chance for the offense to win after taking the kickoff in overtime. In the end the Colts fell to 6-6, one game behind Jacksonville, and head into a short week — at least three players left the game with injuries.
It makes more difficult to know that some guys had great games. Antoine Bethea was absolutely everywhere and tallied 15 tackles, Pierre Garcon caught EVERY SINGLE throw his way, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis both had a sack, Jeff Saturday returned to form, and even Manning was not terrible statistically.
Blair White catches his breathafter scoring against the Chargers(Don Larson | Colts.com)
The Colts offensive struggles have doomed the team the past two weeks — as poor decisions and poor timing stifled a last minute come from behind victory against New England, and handed the Chargers 20 points. While the team won’t make excuses, fans should realize that Manning’s limited options at wide receiver, running back, and tight end have ruined Indy’s offensive cohesion. Add poor performances from both offensive tackles, and the situation gets even worse.
While there were numerous things for fans to complain about, there were also enough positive signs to make one hopeful. The biggest was the fact that despite common perception, Jeff Linkenbach has actually been an improvement over Mike Pollak at right guard (albeit a modest one). Receivers Blair White and Jacob Tamme are becoming very stable for Manning, showing both good timing and hands. The Colts also found a use for Donald Brown. He may not function as a pass blocker, or have the vision to effectively run through a gap, but he showed an edge on quick slant routes that gives him a tangible positive.
Peyton Manning speaking gealic to his offense in Super Bowl XLI. (Jed Jacobsohn | Getty Images)
With Indianapolis struggling recently, a lot of fans are questioning the team’s future. Many complain about recent drafts and believe the young talent will be incapable of replacing the perennial Pro Bowl and future Hall of Fame talent that is starting to age.
This negative perspective is premature. As long as Peyton Manning is healthy and playing at a very high level in the NFL, the Colts future is safe. With that in mind, it makes sense to focus on the players who represent the team’s future, consider their talent level, and where that talent can take the Colts moving forward. More >
Peyton Manning punches the ground after a play in which he was knocked down in the third quarter. (Brent Smith | Reuters)
Wow. The San Diego Chargers absolutely dominated the Indianapolis Colts. Home field? Irrelevant. Fast field? Helped the Chargers as much as it did the Colts. Crowd? Had little chance to have an impact due to turnovers creating a big gap on the scoreboard.
Just about everything that could go wrong did in this game. The Colts offensive line was battered and bullied by San Diego. The running game was dead before the first hand-off. The best receivers on the team right now? Blair White and Jacob Tamme.
This Indianapolis team is not the same as it was when the year started, the injuries are hurting badly, and the offensive line is a mess. The only unit who played a pretty good game was the defense, though a lot of people will not be able to believe that if they look at the score. More >
With four loses, the Colts have very little room for error if they hope to achieve a first round bye in the playoffs. Every game from here on is critical, and it starts this week with the visiting Chargers.
1.) I think that if the Colts see the Patriots in the playoffs again this year, they beat them. Last Sunday, the Colts came within an ill-advised throw (physically not mentally since it looked under-thrown) from victory in Foxborough. This was without Austin Collie, Joseph Addai, Mike Hart, Gary Brackett, Clint Session, and Bob Sanders. With these players back and the further development and integration of Blair White into the offense, the slow starts we have been witnessing should be less of an issue. People right now are getting riled up over Manning’s sub-par performance against the Patriots, but it shouldn’t be that much of a concern. Right now, the rhythm and timing are off with the injuries and integration of new players and in Sunday’s match against the Patriots. Manning rushed a lot of throws due to a lack of protection. However, the injury situation is slowly starting to look better and it’s very rare that you fool Manning twice with disguised coverages. More >
The Indianapolis Colts are 6-4 with six games remaining; four at home and two on the road, and they are currently in a tie for first in the AFC South. What makes the team’s future uncertain is that through 10 games the Colts offense has been unable to develop an identity — unless that identity is defined by inconsistent production and injuries.
The offense has scored erratically. In the second and fourth quarters of games, the offense has put up 98 and 82 points respectively. In the first and third quarters, they have only managed 40 and 27 points.
Against the Patriots, the Colts offense struggled to find their rhythm. In the first quarter, the offense turned the ball over and punted. In the second they scored two touchdowns. In the third quarter they punted and turned the ball over. Finally, in the fourth, the Colts put together their two best scoring drives — only to turn it over again on the game-tying or winning drive.
In the first half the Colts managed only 9 yards rushing. In the second half they produced 62 yards on the ground. The swings were huge for the offense, going from juggernaut to anemic without warning and seemingly without reason.
Dhani Jones: Oh look, something I can grab onto. (Brent Smith | Reuters)
It was a frustrating game for Colts fans, who saw their defense force five turnovers and never had the luxury of feeling like the game was completely in hand. When the Colts led early by 17, conventional wisdom would have said that Indianapolis would win the game for sure, based upon the theory that down two scores to the Colts at any point in the game is a losing proposition for any team.
There is a problem with that theory right now, and that problem is that the Colts today are not the Colts when they were healthy and with all of their starters on the field. Add into this that the Colts played very conservative with key players throughout much of the game, including limiting Freeney and Mathis’ snaps throughout much of the second and third quarters, and the Bengals were given an opportunity to keep the game close. More >