I was going to post more stats about the Colts field position woes in the playoffs (I will run them at a later date). Then after a day of reading more about Caldwell’s timeout and a new wave of attacks against Manning by both Peter King and Jason Whitlock, it dawned on me.
We are all missing the point.
King and Whitlock tried to pile on Manning for his final throw of the night. A designed roll out to Blair White. Both argued that Manning made a bad toss, which denied the Colts a final first down and left time for the Jets. It’s an amazing argument, really. Now a quarterback is not only responsible for putting his team in position for a game winning field goal, but should be blamed if he leaves one minute on the clock for a weak offensive club to respond.
Beyond that, both men are completely incorrect about the play itself. The entire play is designed to leave no chance for a turnover. Manning’s pass is low, yes, but it’s clearly thrown exactly where he wanted it. I watched five times yesterday (ugh, was that painful). Manning hits White in the hands with the pass. It’s a difficult catch to make, a low sliding grab. However, it was not a Hall of Fame caliber catch either. Instead of marveling that with the game on the line Manning had to throw to an undrafted rookie who couldn’t haul in his final pass, both King and Whitlock used it as ammunition against Manning. Whitlock, ignoring that the play was called in a timeout and was a new play installed this year, argued that it showed some kind of hubris by Manning. He said Manning needs to have some guru like John Gruden (author of 6 winning seasons in 11 years as a head coach). Manning was asked to throw a pass with a 0.0% chance of getting picked off. It was such a safe throw, with such a low chance of being completed that you wonder why they didn’t just run the football and drain the clock. Instead, the COACHES split the difference during a timeout and came up with something that neither worked nor ran the clock.
My instinct was to write a FJM style take down of Whitlock, but that would be missing the point as badly as he did.