I looked at the NFL stats this morning and found myself scrolling down the list of quarterback ratings in search of
20. Peyton Manning, Ind., 79.2
Through four games, Manning has as many picks as touchdowns (five each). I've been watching the mired-in-quicksand Indy offense in the first month of the season. The Colts had scored zero points through 40 minutes at Minnesota and 10 at Houston through 50 minutes before rallying for very improbable wins. Without those two fairy tale comebacks they'd be 0-4.
What I've noticed: Defenses are cramming the line trying to stop
So I called a coaching acquaintance of mine, from a team that has the Colts on the schedule this year, and asked what he saw in the Indy offense. "They're not running the ball efficiently at all,'' the coach said. "That's because they're coming up against a lot of eight-man boxes [defensive fronts] without the gaps for Addai that he's used to. I think they've got to figure a way to run it better.''
Conversely, another coach told me, they've got to loosen up the defense more by finding
It's amazing to see defenses challenge Manning in the passing game by loading the line of scrimmage and daring him to beat them, but that's what they're doing. One reason is the Colts have been mixing and matching on the offensive line for a month. They've started three line combinations in four games, and in Houston, two rookies started at guard, with
But I don't think the Colts are cooked. Not by any means. I think they've got to get third wideout
As the second coach says above, Indy must loosen up on first down. Manning tried that in Houston. The Colts had 25 first-down plays against the Texans, and six times Manning threw the ball either intermediate or deep. Three of those were complete, all to Clark, for gains of 23, 23 and 20 yards. Two were incomplete, both to Harrison and one was intercepted. I'm sure, going forward, Manning wants to find Wayne and Gonzalez two or three times a game downfield early in a series.
Against Houston, 10 of the 25 first-down snaps were runs by Addai and
But what must change first is Manning's ability to seek and destroy defenses on first and second downs with some of his trademark deep strikes. When that happens -- and when he starts getting better protection -- the Colts will be back to their playoff selves.
Now onto your mail:
Even worse, he always came off as a selfish baby when losing in the playoffs (criticizing
I've often thought teams get rid of running backs, or running backs retire, a year or two too late. It happened with the Jets and
Couldn't agree more on the trading Roy Williams part. I think, at the very least, they could get a prospective high second-round pick for him, and you're right, the most important thing for the Lions right now is the 2009 draft, not the 2008 season. But I'm not in favor of getting rid of Marinelli. It looks worse than bleak now, but what do you gain by putting in an interim coach now? Nothing.
In the off chance the players respond to Marinelli and make something good of this season, maybe the new GM (which I'm assuming will happen after the season) will want to keep him. I think he deserves three years. I think any coach does, barring him losing the team or showing incompetence. Neither of those have happened with Marinelli.
You're not the only one to question that ranking, Don. I thought a lot about that Sunday night on my way home from NBC. And I realize the product on the field hasn't shown Dallas to be better than Washington so far. It came down to this: If Washington and Dallas met on a neutral field in Wichita right now, I think Dallas would win. I trust
The defenses are a wash, and I might like Washington's a little more, particularly after the goal-line stand at the Eagles. It's very, very close. If Dallas plays generously on defense at Arizona this week, I might change my mind. But here's what it comes down to for me, bottom line: I thought Dallas was the best team in football for much of September, and we've seen them blow out Cleveland on the road, score 41 on a tough defense (Philadelphia), and whack Green Bay pretty well on the road. I still like them a lot, and a smidgen better than Washington.
I think so too, but
Agree totally. I appreciate your point, and Rosenfels, by all accounts, is a totally class guy. That doesn't eliminate the two goatish plays he made.
Good point, Brian. I understand. My rejoinder: Something like 48 percent of the TV sets in the United States are in the Eastern Time Zone. I guess I wonder about the wisdom of playing a playoff game, on a work night, when the vast majority of your potential audience is in bed by the second inning.