Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Dec 2005

Fisher: Colts' Attempt 'Absurd'

This is my nomination for quote of the season:

"Fisher said it appeared as if the Colts were trying to catch the Titans for a penalty with what he called '75 guys, 10 trainers and four doctors on the field rather than 12. A lot of benefit from that.'"

Between this and the allegations about Indy pumping crowd noise through the PA system, I think we'll need another Congressional hearing.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 07 Dec 2005

59 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2005, 8:00pm by doktarr


by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:04pm

First... wahoo...

I thought this was funny. I want to know why the Titans players were not penalized for interfeering with an attempted play...

by JG (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:17pm


by Kevo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:17pm

They're taking the fake kneeldown to a new level, huh?

by Noble (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:24pm


by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:36pm

"They're unusually strong comments from Fisher that could be prompted by his Titans' 8-20 record over the past two seasons."


by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 12:38pm

It's a brilliant idea. My question is, why waste it on Tennessee? Why not keep this one up your sleeve until a tougher game or the playoffs?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 1:13pm

Mikey (#6 )--

That was my take. They tipped their hand when they could use that trick in a genuine "kitchen sink" game. Of course, the clock was running, and no official had spotted the ball, so this play was kinda botched from the start. They need to tip off the ref if they're going to try these kinds of shenanigans.

Between that one, and their continuing problems with the Manning-in-motion-snap-to-James play, maybe they should just stick to the no-huddle, chicken-dance, multi-wideout, stretch-handoff, &c. offense that they execute pretty well already.

Who needs more trickery on top of all that?

by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 1:22pm

re: #6, #7


If that move led to points, it would have been brilliant. Peyton Manning, thinking on new levels. It would have been a Marino-play Light. Fisher would be kicking himself instead of trying to kick the Colts.

A coaches ire is directly proportional to the potential for personal embarrassment.

by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 1:35pm

I seem to remember Bill Walsh calling a fake kneel-down one time. Does anyone remember any details?

I had pretty much the same reaction as everyone else, it could be a brilliant play if done properly, but done properly would include making sure the ref knew to spot the ball and would include doing it in a game where they actually needed to do it. This would've been like Marino doing his famous fake spike in the preseason. I have a football referees' manual (not a rulebook, just a short instructional booklet telling refs how to conduct themselves) and one of the instructions is to ask each coach before the game if there are any trick plays that they should be aware of. It should be obvious to NFL teams that if they're going to do something that could trick the officials, they ought to inform the officials.

by Ben (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 1:46pm

I don't quite get Fisher's beef. I don't think it was jsut an attempt to get a five yard penalty, the Titans lockeroom was toward the Colts endzone, so there were virtually no Titans players on the defensive side of the ball. It would have been an easy run for a score. It was an attempt to get a cheap 7 points, not a cheap 5 yards...

I agree that this seemed to be a strange game to use it, and the Colts needed to be further down the field to make sure that no Titans players could have gotten close...

by krugerindustrialsmoothin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:10pm

I'm genuinely split here, part of me admires the ploy of using the rule book to your greatest advantage. The other part agrees with Fisher and derides it as a bush league ploy.

One thing a absolutely agree with is, if they were trying to use it, they picked an odd time to break that one out of the bag.

aside, you know how the goal line extends beyond the pylons into the out of bounds area? why do you constantly see players trying to get the ball inside the pylon? why not get yourself a good head of steam, jump ob at the 5 (not touching ob with your body) and score by landing on a photographer?

aside to that aside: would that same ploy work to obtain a first down?

these are the things that run through my head.

by ajn (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:12pm

i am inclined to agree with fisher, even though he may have just been letting off a little steam. the question i have, simply, is what did the colts have to gain through this? a five-yard penalty and another crack at a hail mary? why not just throw the hail mary in the first place?

now i'm not sure this falls in the category of unsportsmanlike, but it certainly falls in the category of stupid. and yes, i feel that is a category...

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:18pm

The Ask Jerry Markbreit column has answered the first question in post 11. There is no reason for players to try to get it inside of the pylon. They just don't understand the rules. However, the refs don't seem to understand the rules either. Why else would they routinely make touchdown calls by checking where the player is at the bottom of a goalline pile?
I kind of suspect that if a player didn't try to get it around the pylon the refs would be confused and not give him a touchdown.
I'm not sure how this works on first downs, but if it's the same as with the goalline, then, theoretically, it should be pretty easy to go sailing out of bounds a couple yards short, then land with the ball on the other side.

by Larry (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:51pm

The Colts were only up 14-3 at the time, right? Scoring there is the difference between a game where 1 play makes it anything could happen, and a game that's pretty much out of reach. Who wouldn't rather be up 21-3 as opposed to 14-3?

Think of your trick play like those super-moves in the Kung-Fu type computer games. You don't use them at the start of the fight. You use them to put the final nail in coffin.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:57pm

I wonder how Dungy, Peyton, and Colts fans will feel if the next time that Peyton does a fake kneeldown, some defender blasts Peyton into next week, since, after all, the defender couldn't be sure if it wasn't going to be a fake.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 2:58pm


the next time that Peyton does a fake kneeldown

should of course have read:

the next time that Peyton does a real kneeldown

by bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:07pm

Patsfan, sour grapes aside, their OL won't let that happen because presumably, even on kneeldowns, they are protecting the man and (more importantly in the short-term) the ball.

I've seen too many Colts trick plays blown dead by the refs--Manning on at least two occasions fooled the refs with a fake spike. The play got whistled dead and they were screwed out of a chance for an easy 7 and had to go for 3.

Apparently he's a better actor than Marino ("Ace Ventura" notwithstanding), or maybe they just didn't discuss the possibility with the refs beforehand.

I hate to agree with the "go with your standard offense" because these gimmicks can work wonders, both on the play and on subsequent plays by planting doubt (i.e. hesitation) in the defenders' minds. But the refs have to have a clue, eh?

by OMO (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:13pm

At one point you just have to look the Colts in the eye and say..."stop it, you are just being silly."

The Marino play was cool since it was goal line-ish and it resulted in a score...but this one...dumb...enough already...just play football.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:19pm

If I can channel the Voice of Reason, I'm with Fisher 100%. I'm all for trick plays, but in that scenario, the half is over. Typically, the kneeling QB hands the ball to the ref, and the ref signals end of the half (or game).

I admire Manning for seeing a brilliant way to get a few free points, much the same way I'd admire a pickpocket who takes my wallet without my feeling a thing. But this is by definition unsportsmanlike conduct, and will only lead to a defender snapping his ankle like a breadstick the next half. Close the loophole.

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:44pm

Didn't the Titans try two or three onside kicks in the first half against the Colts last year?

Maybe, it was to send a message?

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 3:52pm

Generally speaking, fake kneel downs and fake spikes should be illegal. Not because they're bush league plays (for the record, I think this was bush league but the Marino fake spike wasn't), but because you don't want to encourage defenders to start smacking people around on these types of plays. The offense is voluntarily giving themselves up, not unlike a PR signalling for a fair catch. Defenders should be able to respect that so that unnecessary injuries are avoided.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:00pm

Re: #15, 17 --

More to the point, since about half the Titans' team was on the field on the wrong side of the ball, there was nothing to stop six or ten guys from simply taking a shot at Manning's knees. A lot of guys would be inclined to do so, even if it meant ejection.

Would you really want to trade the risk of some young player losing his head, and trying to win the rest of the season with Sorgi under center, all for a quick score in a game you're already winning by double digits, against a team that has no realistic shot of coming back? If it was a playcall, it was stupid. If Manning audibled to that, it was extra stupid.

And, for an added bonus, now the Jaguars (and all other potential playoff teams) know not to trust a kneel-down at the end of the half.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:01pm

#21 nails it in my opinion. I've always hated plays like fake spikes etc, because I just know that if Manning ever did a real kneeldown and the opposing defense all dived over the O-line as he took the snap and smacked in the chest they'd probably get called for unnecessary roughness.

I absolutely loved it when Johnny Grier blew his whistle on Manning's fake spike play in the playoffs against Tennessee after the '99 season.

Motioning for a spike or a kneeldown should be exactly like a fair catch signal. The defenders don't get to hit you and you don't get to try to score.

by Scrody (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:11pm

So this is coming from Fisher, who last year had 4 onside kicks in one game against the Colts. Now thats Bush league. The score was still close. If it doesn't work then it doesn't work, if it does then your up another 7 points. No biggie.

I guess after watching the titans play bush league football last year against the colts doing something like this back to them means nothing to me.

by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:39pm

I have read somewhere (or heard on the telecast) that the Colts tried this play earlier in the season as well. I might be hallucinating, but... who knows. Regardless, a trick play is designed to trick the opposing players. Maybe the Colts ran it then in order to practice it for a later date. Maybe they were concerned that the score was only 14-3 and Tennessee has been known to play the Colts tuf. Perhaps, the Colts were using their trick plays to extract revenge on the Titans for all of the times the Titans have done the same to the Colts. Does it really matter?

by Darth Goofy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:41pm

It was fun to watch... and I watch the games to be entertained (I am also a fan of Chad Johnson).

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:46pm

When practicing trick plays, especially ones that rely on the other team to miss what you're doing, better to do so without TV cameras, scouts, and reporters watching you.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:48pm

And the rampant insecurity of the Indy trolls shows up yet again.

Maybe you'd get the respect you're always whining about if you didn't offer an excuse for every immature stunt Peyton, Irsay, et al., pull.

If this was an actual call, to equate it with an onside kick is just ridiculous. And after all the whining the Colts did after the Ravens actually TRIED TO SCORE late in the game earlier this season, to pull a stunt like that would just feed those who think Peyton is an immature jerk, anyway.

So I happen to think that Peyton isn't THAT self-centered and stupid, but maybe he is. An argument between Peyton and Fisher is amusing to me anyway -- one media darling bashing another.

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 4:52pm

Why is it bush league to kick four onsides kicks? I could see the argument if you're up two or three scores and you're still kicking it onsides, but other than that I just don't get it.

by Nicolas (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:05pm

It is unsportsmanlike plan and simple. This the league's supposedly best team versus a 3-8 team with a two score advantage. Totally ridiculous. Before I was on the fence about how the Colts use no-huddle to catch teams with too many players on the field. I mean keep the other team tired and off-balance, it's a good strategy, but now I think they are taking this gimmicky kind of play too far. It's ticky-tac. During the Colts/Steelers game there was a defensive player injured and there are the Colts trying to call the play while the injured Steeler is trying to limp off the field. BUSH LEAGUE
To quote my favorite fantasy site (sharks):
"The Colts have a chance to make history and win a Championship along they way, they should start acting like champions rather than like kids in a pickup game." Word!

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:10pm

I'm just trying to figure out what they could have gained by this. You kneel down, start to run off the field, then line up and try and catch the Titans with too many men on the field. If it works, you gain about 5 yards of field position, but you've lost 10+ seconds on the clock. I'm pretty sure the Colts offense can gain more than 5 yards in 10 seconds.

by Owain (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:11pm

Surely if moving to draw an opponent offside counts as a false start on the offense, then running off towards your locker room and suddenly changing your mind in a ridiculous attempt to get a measly five-yard penalty should be a foul on the offense too?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:17pm

Led (#29 )--
Why is it bush league to kick four onsides kicks?
1. It isn't often done.
2. It was done against the Colts.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 5:49pm

#31 and the whole lot of you

You seem to be forgetting that the offense can decline the offsides penalty. So they're not trying to gain 5 measly yards, they're trying to get the ball in the end zone on a free play.

by Parker (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:14pm

I didn't see the play, so I have no idea of who was where. That being said, it sounds like there were lots of guys on the Colts side of the line at the time this was attempted.

If that's the case, wouldn't the refs call the play dead and assess the 5 yards due to defenders being 'unabated'.

In that case, all the Colts would gain would be the 5 yards.

I also agree that if this was somethgin they were 'practicing' for when they really needed it, they just let the cat out of the bag. It's a pretty specific game situation in which this can be attempted. I would imagine all future opponents will be on red alert.

by JAT (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:41pm

Nicolas # 30:
Why don't you try a little context? For the last 2-1/2 years - since Willie McGinest in '03 - it appears as though opposing defensive players have been feigning injuries to slow down the Colts no-huddle. I'm talking full training staff on the field, stop play for 5 minutes, only for the "injured" player to reappear after a play looking none the worse for wear. In a game earlier this year the training staff was supposedly starting to run onto the field before the guy even went down (I didn't see it but it was reported in the media). Bush league, or smart tactics? I guess it depends on one's perspective.

by JAT (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 6:45pm

Whoops, now that I re-read your post, I see that you were referring to a player trying to get off the field. Discount above rant about guys faking injuries on the field.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 7:59pm

How exactly is this a "fake kneel down", as some claim? From the descriptions, it sounds like they knelt with 24 seconds left, the ref blew the play dead as normal, the QB handed him the ball as normal, and the ball was spotted with the clock running as normal. The trickery wasn't in faking a kneel, it was in trying to run a play afterwards while Tennessee was happily running off the field. I could not agree more with those who say this was unneccessary, risky (injury by cheap shot), and a waste of surprise. But I could not possibly disagree more with those who say it's unsportsmanlike.

The ball was spotted. There was still time on the clock. Why the hell shouldn't they run another play if they want to? Is it unsportsmanlike simply because it's tricky? Oh, dear lord, someone disguised their intentions on a football field! The world is about to end!

Apparently, the only things which are 'sportsmanlike' are those in which the team declares its intentions openly and honestly to the opponent. I will now adopt this standard, and declare the following actions to also be unsportsmanlike, and all of these should be penalized, and possibly result in forfeiture of games if blatant enough.

1) Surprise onside kick. So you notice that the return team is bailing out early and know you can recover it if you surprise them. You bastard. How dare you think about getting an extra possession without informing the opponent what you're about to try? In fact, lining up nine on one side and kicking it to the lone man on the other is just as bad. All onside kicks should be declared beforehand, and the target and style of kick should also be named.

2) Zone blitz. Defensive linemen dropping into coverage while LB/DBs rush in their place? I've never heard of something so shameful. Think of the confusion this could cause for the poor QB and OL! From now on, all pass rushers must identify themselves by raising their hands before the snap (they should probably also say which move they'll use, but that may be pushing things a bit too far). Actually, all disguised coverages are right out. Showing a cover-2 pre-snap, then switching to cover-3, is clearly just an attempt to cause incompletions or turnovers. Such tomfoolery is clearly inappropriate for the gentlemen who play this game.

3) Play action passes. Come on, pretending to run, then throwing the ball? You, sir, are worse than Satan. Also outlawed: reverses (single, but not double, because those never work), flea flickers (like I even needed to say it!), the puntrooskie, screen passes, draws, trap blocking, and counters (especially that accursed counter trey).

4) Huddles. I think it should be obvious that calling plays without letting the other team in on the secret is just about as low as you can get. And what's the deal with coaches covering their mouths when they call plays so you can't read their lips? From now on, the helmet earpiece system will be replaced with a megaphone hooked into the stadium's sound system (Kansas City and Washington can substitute smoke signals, Tampa and Oakland can use signal flags, New England can use a lighthouse). Any team caught running a play different than the one called will be immediately sold and moved to Boise, ID. Oh yeah, audibles are also for jerks.

5) Worthless sideline reports, celebratory dances when making a big hit after allowing a huge gain, pretending the QB is solely responsible for win/loss, the Stooges, Ray Lewis mic'd up, Cincy's uniforms that make my eyes bleed, MNF games that su-diddley-uck, a lack of quality analysis, and the Broncos, Steelers, Ravens, and Cowboys. Wait, this is just the list of things I hate. Sorry.

Anyway, I'm rambling, and as usual had no point. No wait, yeah I did. If you leave the field while the ball is ready to be put in play and there's time on the clock, and the other team tries to score, too f'in bad. I think Indy was dumb to waste it then, but I think it's completely Tennessee's fault if they get caught by it. Sorry.

I should add that I've seen this attempted probably five or six times before (the last time in the NFL was someone (I forget who) trying it against Cleveland in 02). I've never heard the victimized coach whine quite like this before. But then again, I've only seen one TD scored on it, and that was a high school game. The lesson, I guess, is that it can be stopped pretty easily by just, you know, having the tiniest bit of discipline. Any team that gets caught by this has nobody to blame but themselves.

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 8:21pm

Amem, Trogdor, preach it.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 9:49pm

Trogdor, I can't take your rant seriously as long as it includes "from the descriptions...."

What happened was that Manning took the snap, knelt to run out the clock, gave the ball to the official, started to run off to the locker room with his teammates, then turned around and tried to get a snap off.

Does that change anything in your eyes? Because to me, it's the equivalent of the fair catch scenario mentioned above, or a quarterback starting to go into a slide, then catching himself and running when the defender pulls up.

Unsportsmanlike = not being a sportsman. Sportsman = Conducting oneself in competition by adhering to the spirit of the rules and a sense of fair play.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 10:11pm

Fisher said he wanted to put a rule in the books about it - that's an easy one. Kneeling down results in an automatic runoff of the play clock from the game clock, or an amount of time which must be specified to both the official and the opposing team.

The reason for the second part is I can imagine a coach wanting to run the clock down after a play which has stopped the clock, and so you might want to kneel, and then call timeout to stop the clock at one second, or something stupid like that. It's not a particularly good idea, but I guess I could see a stupid coach doing it.

I do agree that it should be banned, however, for one reason: kneeling like that didn't signify "end of half" to just the defense. It also did to the officials, and all the other people on the field. You don't want to have some TV guy starting to run out on the field as a bunch of 300 pound guys run to get into position, and bowl the guy over.

It's a stupid play. Trying to trick the defense is one thing. Trying to trick everyone in the stadium is another.

Ever wonder why the Colts don't bother asking an official if certain tricks are allowed or not?

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 10:37pm

Ever wonder why the Colts don’t bother asking an official if certain tricks are allowed or not?

That's my biggest complaint. I can't remember the last time I saw them pull off a true trick play without a problem.

I will offer another possibile explanation, even if it means being accused of rampant insecurity. I wonder if they did this figuring that it wouldn't really work.

Why would they do that? Their entire offensive philosophy is built around never giving the defense a moments rest. Do something like this and you're basically putting other teams on notice that they can't even take a breather on kneeldowns. It puts the defenders under added mental stress. Granted, that's probably not it, but I always like to offer an excuse for every immature stunt Peyton, Irsay, et al., pull.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 11:10pm

Pat #40,

both the fair catch and the QB slide scenarios you note are covered in the rules. This is not.

While most of the Colts trick plays are an end into themselves, the direct-snap-to-Edge has an important side effect. If teams are worried about that play, it keeps them focussed on the ball when Manning moves off center, so it's easier for him to get a pat read. So that one is really more important than the others.

by Kami (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 11:22pm

I have the feeling that if Brett Favre did this, it would remind everyone of how much fun he was having and that it was like watching a boy on a playground.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 11:32pm

Ever wonder why the Colts don’t bother asking an official if certain tricks are allowed or not?

That’s my biggest complaint. I can’t remember the last time I saw them pull off a true trick play without a problem.

Apparently, they try to "clear" the plays beforehand with the referee but sometimes the officials forget and call a penalty anyway. As any of you who played football know, the refs will sometimes drop a flag just because the play "looks funny".

Even if they don't know what the infraction is.

They can always make something up later

This was talked about in a column a couple of weeks ago

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 11:43pm

Parcells would call them "Jap plays"

Bo Schembechler would call it "Communist football"

by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 12:04am

Re: #44

Kami, you hit it right on the head. Manning's improvising, and his distractors will use anything to knock him (he can't win a playoff game, he just cares about stats, Tom Brady would have won that game -- how's that one working out this year?).

I think it's odd, but creative. What was the harm, from a Colts standpoint? Just a bunch of whiners complaining out there, the same folks who call the Colts "whiners" whenever the Colts question any call or tactic.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:33am

Manning’s improvising, and his distractors will use anything to knock him (he can’t win a playoff game, he just cares about stats, Tom Brady would have won that game — how’s that one working out this year?).

I steer well clear of the PeyTom Branning debate, but I'm quite ready to call bulls*** on the whole "Peyton is a genius, calls all the plays at the line, and Indy doesn't need an O-Coordinator crap." I just don't buy it.

Who's to say the ENTIRE playbook isn't scripted this way? That him, running around, flapping his arms, whispering to James, etc, isn't just one big act to get the DBs jumpy, and miss the short slant to Stokes or the deep strike to Harrison?

Seriously, unless every commentator, journalist and fan is listening at their descrambled HF monitors to the play being called by the OC, knows the entire playbook and its slang by memory, and can compare it to what's being run, you just don't know.

What if, *shock!* the entire team is coached to use this big ruse? Far from a conspiracy theory, this is much more likely than the common answer (that Peyton throws the playbook out the window, because he can read a defense so dang well).

This is especially true with such a technoractic coach as Dungy seems to be.

Anyway, that's my thought for the day: all of this audibling, play changing and "brilliance" of Manning is just another facet of the intricately designed deception of the Colts gameplanners...just like this stunt now, and all the others they will use to get to a perfect record, and a well deserved and thoroughly earned Super Bowl berth.

Go Horseshoes!

by Purds (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 2:41am


As you quoted my words, I'll respond. You're reading your own agenda into what I said. I did not claim genius for Manning. I said he might have been "improvising," the term most likely to describe an obviously unusual play that the referees were not tipped off to.
If you're going to make your own, unique point, do so, but don't claim I offered more than I did.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 3:21am

Apparently, they try to “clear� the plays beforehand with the referee

The play where Manning did his move down the sidelines, gesticulating wildly, and direct snap to James was not cleared beforehand - Tony Dungy has said that clearly. They actually asked for a clarification afterwards because they didn't know what was wrong. They claimed that the referrees made it up on the spot, but the league said that rule's always been there.

I think they called that play the "virtual quarterback" play. (What a retarded name, incidentally.)

by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 8:59am

Bo Schembechler would call it “Communist football�

Bo Schembechler would call every modern NFL offense "Communist football." He used that phrase to describe BYU's offense because he thought teams should run 90 percent of the time. His team lost to BYU in the Holiday Bowl.

Schembechler wasn't opposed to trick plays, though. In his autobiography there's a whole chapter about how he worked with Bear Bryant on an all-star game and they called a trick play where the running back throws a pass to the quarterback, pissing off the coach of the other team.

by Captain Frisk (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 9:04am

Regarding 4 onside kicks being bush league...

Does anyone remember the scenario in this game? The titans had a competent offense, but no defense capable of stopping Manning.

They realized that starting manning at his own 30, vs the the titans 45 really wasn't going to make much of a difference, the colts would get those 25 yards anyway. They even recovered a few of those kicks right? Maybe 2?

by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 9:36am


I didn't mean to put words into your mouth, and I apologize if that is what you perceived. My use of your quote, as is detailed in my post, was simply to highlight what is a common praise of Manning. My response was about just that: Manning's "improvisational," "perceptive" skills at QB (fans of Brady use the same accolade, "he can improvise like no other!" BFD).

My point remains.

by st pete, FL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 9:50am

I have one lasting thought from all of this. The Colts were playing the Titans, right? The Titans? Aren't they horrible? Was this really necessary, this resort to chicanery? What's next? Are they going to pay the local madia to run positive news stories?

It reminds me of when the Rams, and the beloved Mike Martz were playing the Jets, and they were destroying them. So Martz calls for an on-sides kick! -and I'll never forget the look on Herm Edward's face. Meanwhile, Kurt Warner is standing 3 rows back in Giants stadium signing autographs. Unbelievable. So yes, to me, it is definitely a certain lack of "something"... class? professionalism? Sportsmanship? Maybe all 3...

Sometimes I wonder if Manning irritates Tony Dungy as much as he does me.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 12:14pm

Was this really necessary, this resort to chicanery? What’s next?

The Colts were trying to find out if it would work or not. No need to risk it versus a good team.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 12:41pm

re 38: there's a difference between disguising what you're going to do on the football field and disguising the fact that play is actually still going on.

If a team onside kicks, yes maybe the opposition didn't know it was coming, but they at least knew that something was coming. Giving a team the impression that you are headed to the locker room for halftime and then trying to sneak in another play is just cowardly. I don't think these any comparison at all between a zone blitz and what the Colts did.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 4:16pm

#54 Sometimes I wonder if Manning irritates Tony Dungy as much as he does me.


I'm sure that the Colts have worked on that play in practice so Dungy is in charge. It is not something Manning decided to do on the spot. While the entire Titan team headed toward the locker room, no one on the Colts sideline moved.

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2005 - 5:26pm

What about any of the fake field goal attempts where a player fakes going to the sideline?

by doktarr (not verified) :: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 8:00pm


The idea that everything they're doing in the no-huddle is scripted would actually require a lot MORE coordination. Everyone would have to memorize the entire sequence of plays ahead of time, since all the gesticulation and play-calling wouldn't actually mean anything. Not even remotely likely, honestly. Manning is calling the plays.

Nobody (well, noody intelligent anyway) has claimed that the Colts don't need an offensive coordinator, or that Peyton is "throwing the playbook out the window". This is Tom Moore's offense, and he's designed a great system that uses a very small bag of well-disguised plays that work great with the Colts personnel. That includes Peyton's ability to audible between a few of those plays.