Folks who have read this blog for awhile will know that I am no hater of the Colts. I am a Raider hater and a Patriot hater, but not a Colt hater. You will probably find 30 or more posts on this blog where I say terribly flattering things about Bill Polian, Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, Dallas Clarke, Reggie Wayne, et al.
The Colts have been a model organization for the past 12 years. They have not had a single losing season in that time. They have been a model of consistency, continuity, and sportsmanship during this long run. Like their quarterback and President, they are a class act.
With that said I am wondering if 2011 is the year of the breakdown for the Colts. I've watched the Colts first preason game from stem to stern, versus my Rams, several times now. I can't tell you the sense of shock I experienced watching the footage, over and over.
Essentially, what I saw was this: I saw a big, mean, physical, fast Ram offensive and defensive line beat the shit out of a bunch of smaller and weaker Colt linemen. I saw the Rams line knocking the Colts 4 and 5 yards off the line of scrimmage--and with velocity--on almost every running play. What I saw was the Rams playing big-boy football, a-la the Ravens and Steelers. We stood their punching the Colts in the mouth, with impunity, and it didn't seem like there was anything they could do about it.
I know... I know what you're thinking:
- The Colts didn't have Manning
- The Colts didn't have Dwight Freeney
- You just can't tell much from the first preseason game
- The Colts are a quality team, and they don't get excited about a preason game with Rams
All that is fine and good and true, but you need to have a look at that film footage. If you look at the way those two lines were utterly dominated, you will have to admit that there are red flag warnings flying during this game. A team that is coming up from the depths should not be able to physically destroy the elite Colts in this fashion.
The defense is particularly an issue, as it often has been for the Colts. During the Colts many quality years, they often suffered defensive breakdowns, and often at the worst possible times. Jim Mora was fired and Tony Dungy hired to fix this problem. Dungy often had to work miracles to resuscitate a dying Colt defense. Sometime he succeeded, sometimes he did not.
This is now the Colt's third year without Tony Dungy. In their first year without him, they fired on every cylinder, never missing a beat. Last year, the Colt defense began to crack and crumble. The Colts stumbled greatly on their way to a one-and-done playoff exit. Now in this first preseason game of 2011, I watched them get punched in the face relentlessly by a Rams team that has not had a winning record in 7 years.
I felt like reality was melting down and disintegrating. Folks, the Colts are now officially on my suspect list. I don't know if I can pick them to win the South. I am wondering if this is the year the tires fall off the waggon.