Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Dec 2010

ESPN AGS: Cowboys over Colts

So, are the Colts cooked, or what? Here's a look at Indy's struggles on both offense and defense.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 07 Dec 2010

2 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2010, 3:23pm by Marcumzilla

Comments

1
by Dave :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 7:38pm

It is worth noting that for as good as Collie is, he has also been out a while now too, and that directly lines up with Manning's struggles - going back to the 2nd half in which he was injured at Philly, Manning has thrown 13 picks in 4 losses and a poorly played win.

Clark is valuable, but Collie can pick up some of that slack, at least in terms of dictating coverages and wearing defenses out. With both gone, they're much easier to defend.

(Collie is out thursday night too. As are Addai, Hart, and possibly Brown. So in comes Rhodes from the UFL, because they at least know he can block.)

Anyway, I don't want to pin all the struggles on the injuries. Manning is still making terrible mistakes. Given enough time, even with this motley crew of skill players, I think he'd revert to form. But in the meantime, he's showing a shocking inability to adapt.

Seeing this all happening while Brady is playing out of his mind has me really starting to notice some clear differences in their skillsets, job descriptions, and strengths. The discussion in the QR comments about Brady's pre/post-snap reads and responsibilities really got me thinking about this. I hesitate to write about it in detail though, for fear of it becoming the typical irrational debate. Though right now I suppose it's likely that a lot of irrational fans, at least on the Colts side, might not have a whole lot to say...

Oh, one other note, having nothing to do with the offense: Francisco wasn't even third string. They also lost Jamie Silva, who is nothing special but has made the team a few times, a while back, which meant they had to go pluck Francisco up off the street. He wasn't even in camp this season. (Honestly I'm a little surprised that Vick has been the only QB to really test them deep lately, given how bad Francisco is.)

Also, my favorite line moment was when Pollak got beat so bad that Manning very nearly was sacked on a handoff. As 18to88 noted one play later, that sequence summed up the '10 Colts pretty well: 1st down - injury (and 15 yard penalty), 2nd down - hilariously blown block, 3rd down - pick 6.

2
by Marcumzilla :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 3:23pm

I'm glad you brought up a couple points that jumped out at me too, regarding the rest of the Colts.

You're right, it reads as though Collie's been playing lately and Manning's had 3 of his top 4 targets through the whole stretch. Let's not forget Garcon didn't play every game either. Gonzalez may have been able to pick up some of the slack where Clark/Collie left off if he could have stayed healthy (don't forget his second year he had a 70+% catch rate and may have led the league).

I was going to mention that about Francisco as well. They did play a fourth stringer there ~1 game before bringing Francisco in.

I think someone (here?) may be on to something when they postulated that part of Manning's problems may be that he assumes defensive players will stick to their assignment rather than improvise and peel off -- that it's not an issue with him reading the coverage incorrectly, but rather expecting the defense to play by the book.