All season long I have been pleased with the decisions that new head coach Jim Caldwell has been making. He has done a great job of managing his personnel all season especially as they began to get hit by injuries. Heck- can you really be displeased with anything a guy does when the team is 14-0?
Well when you lose, regardless of how often you have won, the Boo Birds tend to come out. Negativity is easy and really kind if dull; not my preferred mood when I write. However, in this case I fear it is necessary.
Playing the first teams in last week’s meaningless game was a brilliant decision and not just because the fans deserve a good game. The first team units have played well overall this year, but they have also painted themselves into the corners they found themselves having to climb out of during the fourth quarter. Had there opponents made a few kicks when it really counted the Colts would not have been thinking undefeated they would have been wishing for a wild card spot!
In his on-field interview following the Week 15 win against the Jaguars Peyton referred to the players and coach’s desire to work the kinks out in certain areas of their game. Brilliant! With that statement alone they have given themselves all the reason they need to play their starters all the way through. While the defense has played better than ever this year, they still tend to be a little weak against the run (as Thomas Jones proved this past week). The whole that the team has found itself in sometimes has been due to the interceptions thrown by Manning.
Through the first half against the Jets it appeared as if the Colts were still in need of working some things out. Timing was off on some of the passing routes (i.e. Reggie Wayne in the end zone during the second quarter), and a Jets offense led by a rookie quarterback was looking pretty good against the defense. The Colt’s kick-off coverage has had holes before, something which the Jets were able to exploit for a score.
All in all the team just did not look that good. They needed to play. Come AFC championship time against the Chargers or possibly the first round against the Bengals they will not have the luxury of being able to work it out. San Diego has had the Colt’s number during the playoffs before and is playing arguably the best football in the AFC right now. Cincinnati has played some of the most efficient football on both sides of the ball; they will not allow the Colts the opportunity to get their act together.
Continuity aside, the Colts owed it to the fans to go for the undefeated season. They are the ones that make the million dollar salaries possible for these guys. But it’s a business and the business is winning the Super Bowl! Yes, but it is also entertainment and I have watched preseason games that were better than the Colts/ Jets last Sunday. Would you want to pay to watch that performance Painter put on?
I could have gotten over the strange call to pull the superstars when they were pulled were it not for Caldwell’s words after the game when he referred to the team clicking on all cylinders. Jim, what game were you watching?