Week 2 Preview – a Monday Night Showdown

The Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) bring their high-octane offense to Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night as the Colts (0-1) look to bounce back from an opening week loss in Denver.

Let’s just pull off the band-aid and get it over with. The Colts – despite some late-game heroics – looked awful Sunday night. The play calling was suspect at best in key situations. The running game was a non-factor. And as far as the defense is concerned – it looked like Manning was playing against the practice squad in the first half.

Now, the Colts must face off with the Eagles in another prime time match-up. During the Manning-era, the Colts typically looked unstoppable in prime time games. But, since Pagano and Luck took the reins – not so much. Maybe the lights are too bright for this young team, but in the past five prime time games (including playoffs) the Colts have been outscored 104-44 in the first half.

The Eagles come to town with tons of momentum. Despite being down 17-0 to Jacksonville at halftime last week, their offense, led by QB Nick Foles, eventually caught fire and scored 34 second-half points and cruised to victory.

Honestly, I have no idea what to expect Monday night. In their opening games, the Eagles and Colts were trailing by a combined score of 41-7 at halftime but rallied and outscored their opponents 51-7 in the second half. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde were out in full force.

Let’s be honest – there’s no way the Colts will jump out to a 17-0 lead against the Eagles – not as long as Pep Hamilton is calling the plays. For the Colts to jump out to a fast start Pep must abandon the run game – leave T-Rich and Bradshaw on the sidelines – and allow Luck to play out of the shotgun and go 5-wide with Wayne, Hilton, Nicks, Allen & Whalen. Richardson & Bradshaw combined for 35 yards on 9 carries against Denver. It is safe to assume that had Luck thrown on those running plays we would have gained more than 35 yards – and probably would have won the game. Do we even need to run the ball when we have as talented a receiving core as we have this year? My guess is no.

Also, based on how the Colts D performed – it is also safe to assume Luck will need to put up at least 30 points to have a shot against the Eagles. The Eagles averaged 27.6 points per game last year and scored 30+ in six of those games which could spell doomsday for the men in Blue.

The key to a Colts victory will be to limit offensive touches for the Eagles. If they run 70+ plays this could be a laugher in favor of the team from the city of Brotherly Love. But, if the Colts can score points early on and the defense generates some turnovers and can limit 3rd down conversions for Philly then it should be a barn-burner and the team with the last possession will win the game.

Prediction: Despite their abysmal effort for much of the game against Denver, I believe the Colts will not disappoint in their home opener. I envision Luck hitting Hilton or Nicks on a deep TD to start the game and the Colts D comes up big when it matters in the final minutes.

Colts 34, Eagles 31

 

 

 

Fans Calling For Reinforcements

Okay, so the Robert Mathis injury saga has been beaten to a bloody pulp.  We now know he won’t be back this season and even if he can return next season he won’t be 100 percent ever again.  So naturally all the Colts fans are calling for reinforcements to help shore up the pass rush.  No one is giving Walden or Werner much of a chance to see if they can generate the pass rush this defense is going to need moving into the season.

In all the hype of Mathis going down the Colts also lost someone they felt could help in this predicament, Cam Johnson.  Johnson was brought here because he displayed a knack for finding the quarterback and now that he is gone the task will fall on the shoulders of a select few:  Werner, Walden, Freeman and McNary.  We look at these names and of course feel a little dread as we have never seen anyone else produce sacks and quarterback pressure better than Mathis or Freeney.  That’s what this city and fann base has grown accustomed to seeing.  We have been spoiled for the past decade and there is no substitute.

I will not discount what people are saying.  Can Werner, Walden, Freeman or McNary produce what this team will need?  I don’t know.  Fact is no one does and that’s what scares everyone.  No one knows if they can because they haven’t proven they can.  So the switch is flipped to bringing in free agents to help out.  The fact of the matter is there are no viable options on the free agent market that would make sense to bring in.  And please don’t say James Harrison.  He left the league for a reason – he is tired and worn out.

Another suggestion was to see if they could sign Michael Sam from the Cowboy’s practice squad.  I am pretty sure most of you have seen me comment on this but I will reiterate.  Sam could be very good but right now he is another project player.  He cannot join this team and provide an immediate impact.  Signing him away to bring him here only to see him go to the practice squad here after a few weeks doesn’t make sense.

The final solution that I have seen a few, not many, but a few put out there is to trade for someone.  Uh….HELL NO!!!  The front office and this team cannot go another year without a 1st or 2nd round pick which is what would need to be used to get anyone that could come in and possibly produce right away.

I have a solution for everyone who is terrified that Mathis not coming back is going to break this team:  Have faith.  I was told that I was crazy to think that the Colts would lose to Denver and that I didn’t have faith in Luck or the team.  Now that the defensive leader is gone, some have lost their faith.  Mathis wasn’t going to be the push behind this team towards Arizona in February.  It’s going to be the offense for sure.  Now have faith in the men that are currently on this roster to show us all we are wrong.  Yes, I said WE.  I’m just as nervous as the rest to see what happens from here.  However, I refuse to abandon ship or proclaim that this team has transformed from a potential powerhouse to just sneaking into the playoffs.

Give McNary and the others a chance to prove they belong and can pick up the slack while Mathis is gone.  No, we don’t have someone who can get 19.5 sacks in a season on this roster right now.  No, we don’t have someone who can move as quick as Mathis does to get around the edge.  What we do have are a bunch of men that have laid their blood, sweat and tears out on the field for this organization and I would be willing to bet they are willing to do what it takes to produce the pass rush and bring down the quarterbacks.  We don’t have one player who can achieve 19.5 sacks but we have many who could bring 6-7 sacks a piece.  Let’s give them a chance to prove us wrong.  What could it hurt???

Goodell Doesn’t Get it!

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Roger Goodell had big shoes to fill when he took over the commissionership from Paul Taglibue.  Taglibue helped mold the NFL to the juggernaut that it is today.  As commissioner he seemed to be able to straddle the lines between players,  owners, and fans.  So when he announced he was retiring his protegé ascended to the spot.  Goodell’s number one goal coming in was “To protect the Shield” as Taglibue had left the league financially sound.  The league seemed to be having an image problem with off-field issues as well substance and alcohol abuse.

Goodell decided that he was going to start cleaning up the issues by targeting the worst offenders.  And he began handing out punishments which seemed to be working.  The problem that arose concerned the shift in fans away from him after a few seasons in control and more namely the lock-out. Continue reading

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