Hello, Colts fans. The inevitable happened last Sunday, as the Colts were finally eliminated from the playoffs with a 33-25 loss to the Oakland Raiders. It was yet another in a series of losses against good teams during the Grigano era. I found myself way more upset over Derek Carr getting injured than I did in the Colts losing. The entire thing was so typical 2016 Colts. Here’s a team which failed despite getting multiple opportunities to seize control of the worst division in the NFL, yet even in losing managed to wreck the season of a team who had – and technically still has – a shot at securing the number one seed in the AFC playoffs. Just one of many things where one could say “That’s so Colts.”
Let’s see what’s on your minds…
Q: Is this the last game of the Grigano regime? *clasps hands and prays to Colts Jesus* – Jason via Twitter
Q: Will Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson be fired? There aren’t any more questions that need to be asked. The team is terrible! – Abdul via Twitter
I’m going to first answer this with a question of my own: Exactly who is this Colts Jesus, and can he rush the passer? If so, get him a uniform. Jim Irsay *has* to hear the roar from the fans, right? He has to realize that 8-8 two years in a row (or perhaps 7-9 this season) isn’t acceptable in Indianapolis, right? He realizes he doesn’t own the Browns, right? I wish I could answer with any degree of certainty regarding the future of Grigano, but I have no way of knowing what’s going on inside Irsay’s melon. A year ago at this time Pagano’s contract was about to expire, and everyone – including Indy media – thought he was a goner, but he ended up with a 4 year contract. Ryan Grigson was rewarded with a 3 year extension, giving him 4 more years as well. Now, everyone is convinced both will be kept. Maybe this time Irsay throws another curveball and cans them both. I wish I knew.
What I do know is the state of this organization right now is one of disarray. Regardless of if the blame falls on management, coaches, or players, the fact is this is a rudderless ship. There’s no clearly defined direction other than silly sayings about building monsters or being shoes, or “hopefully we can keep Andrew upright and score 30, because we know we’re going to give up at least 28.” What exactly is this organization attempting to accomplish here? From personnel decisions to offensive philosophy to defensive philosophy – by the way, the next time someone gives a legitimate explanation of what the Colts try to do on defense, it will be the first – none of it makes sense. Forget about the win/loss record – there are definitely fans of other teams who would kill to finish 8-8 in consecutive years – and just ask yourselves: “Where is this team at?” “Where is it going?” “What is this organization trying to accomplish?” Jim Irsay needs to look in the mirror and answer these questions honestly.
Worse than a .500 record is the apathy that has set in among fans. I think it will be on full display this Sunday, when the team takes the field to a half empty stadium. The Oakland game was one I was excited about when the season started, maybe more than any other on the schedule. I honestly felt it was a real possibility we’d see the highest scoring game in league history. When it came time for the actual game to be played, I can’t remember the last time I felt so ho hum about watching the Colts play – and remember, their season was still very much alive. That’s what this organization has done to its fans, and it’s far more damaging than an 8-8 record.
Jim, are you listening?
Q: Are they trying to butter us up with free t-shirts Sunday? – Kimberly via Facebook
This actually sort of goes along with my ramblings in the previous question. Free t-shirts! Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Colts. We have nothing else to do, so we’ll give you t-shirts! Woohoo!!!
The team also announced on Tuesday it plans to induct Bill Polian into the “ring of honor” this Sunday. To be fair, it does go along with the celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the Super Bowl XLI championship team, but did anyone out there hear any rumblings of this before it was announced? I didn’t, and it almost seems like Irsay brainstormed ideas on the flight home from Oakland hoping to find some way to get people excited about the last game. “I’ve got it! We’ll honor Bill in the last game! Hopefully people won’t see it as a reminder of what used to be.”
In the meantime, I’m pouring one out for you, Bill Polian. Yeah, there should probably be another Super Bowl banner or two hanging in the rafters of Lucas Oil, but it’s damn hard to win a Super Bowl, and you were the architect of an immensely successful run. Here’s to you….
Speaking of the Super Bowl XLI team, Reggie Wayne has “liked” five of my tweets this week. Bromance in full blossom, folks.
Q: So…what now? – Stan via Facebook
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Colts! Producing all of the fan apathy with still a game to go.
What now? That’s a damn good question. I think as far as the Colts are concerned, we simply have to wait and see what Irsay decides after the last game. In last week’s mailbag someone asked about draft needs. I mentioned pass rushers, LB, WR, RB, and OL as needs, but I think DB should be added to this list as well. On second thought, it may be easier to list the spots the team doesn’t need help at. Swiss cheese roster, Ryan Grigson. Thanks.
Q: I’ll be going to the game. What are the odds of me getting on the field and stirring up some excitement for the few fans in the stands, without getting tackled by security? – Jodi via text
Hmm. Can you play LB? Rush the passer? If so, suit up. It’s probably not in your best interest to storm the field, not because of security, but because Kevin Harlan will be in Pittsburgh and therefore unable to provide a legendary call of you getting blown up by security. Of course, if Lucas Oil security tackles anything like the team does, you may make a successful field jaunt. If it were me though, I’d go a different route, such as wearing Allie J’s old cheer outfit. That is sure to attract everyone’s attention. You may also try mimicking Blue’s pelvic thrusts. I’m just saying.
Q: If you are Gore, do you stick around for another year? – Nick via Facebook
I’m 99% certain Frank will be back. One, he’s under contract for another season. Two, the team is thin at RB and his 2017 salary – $3.5 million – isn’t a big cap burden. I don’t think he’s looking to retire, and I doubt the team will release him. With backup Robert Turbin being a free agent, they can’t afford to let Gore go. I sort of feel bad for Frank. He signed with the team thinking he was coming to play for a Super Bowl contender, and instead he’s been stuck watching the playoffs from his couch.
Since Gore’s spent the majority of his time playing on the west coast, I think a lot of people don’t realize how good he’s really been. He sort of reminds me of former baseball player Tim Raines. If one didn’t see Raines play, it’s hard to appreciate how good he was. Indeed, at one point Tim Raines had successfully reached base more than any player in major league history. Think about that. Raines appears poised to finally get elected to the baseball hall of fame in 2017. When it gets to that time for Gore, I think the voters will know, but the average fan is going to look over his stats and say “Holy crap, I didn’t realize he was that good.”
He has been.
1- Sunday will mark Gore’s 92nd – nearly 6 seasons – consecutive start. The next closest to this are Arizona’s David Johnson and Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman, who will be at just 21 consecutive if they start this weekend. Gore is 33, Johnson just turned 25 a couple of weeks ago, and Freeman is 24. Gore has missed 12 games total in his 12 years, 5 of them coming in one season. Amazing durability.
2- With just 36 yards rushing this Sunday, Gore will become the oldest back since John Riggins in 1984 to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark during a season. Gore’s topped 36 yards in every game this season save for one, the Pittsburgh game where Luck didn’t play.
3- In the Oakland game, Gore became the first player in NFL history to top 1,200 yards from scrimmage in 11 consecutive seasons. Jerry Rice has also surpassed 1,200 scrimmage yards in 11 seasons, but did not do so consecutively.
4- With still one game left this season, Gore is less than 700 yards away from being the 5th all-time leading rusher in league history, and about 1,100 from 4th.
Frank’s been pretty damn good.
(stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference)
Q: It’s the last game of the season and the team isn’t going to the playoffs. Why are the starters playing on Sunday? – Jodi via text
Because a win means 8-8 baby! We’re close! We’re not that far away! Build the monster shoe! Gag.
I appreciate some of the irony here. Remember when it used to be “Why are the Colts resting starters? The team has to remain sharp for the playoffs!”? Now we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum and I want to curl up into the fetal position.
The more things change, the more they remain the same? Maybe. It used to be a situation where they’d feed a Reggie Wayne or a Dallas Clark in order to get them to 100 catches before they took a seat to rest for the playoffs. Now it’s a situation where they try to get Frank Gore 1,000 yards, or they try to make sure TY Hilton is the league’s leading receiver in yards, or where they try to get Andrew over 30 TD passes. I totally expect all three of those things to happen. Why? Because that’s what they do. It doesn’t matter anymore, but hey, “we’re close!” so we’re totally going to run Jacksonville off the field and get some milestones in the process.
Funny thing is, it would actually help the franchise if they lost Sunday. A loss could net them as high as the 9th pick in the draft. A loss would also mean a third place finish. So what, now what, you say? Well, third place means next year the Colts would draw Denver – 3rd in the AFC West – at home, and Buffalo – 3rd in the AFC East – on the road. A win and a Houston win over Tennessee – not unexpected since the Titans are without Mariota – means 2nd place. It also means a home game with either the Chiefs or Raiders – first place in the AFC West is still up for grabs, and the Colts would play whichever team finishes 2nd – and a road game at the 2nd place AFC East team, Miami. Given the current status of the Colts roster, I know which scenario I’d like to see.
But hey, we’re close. Gag.
Q: Since this is a huge game vs a division rival, where would you rank it in the most important games of Colts history? – Casey via Twitter
Top 3. I’ll rank it behind the 2006-07 AFCCG and behind the comeback over Tampa Bay in 2003, but definitely ahead of both Super Bowls. It’s the most important game ever! A win makes them .500 for the season and .500 within the division! We’re close! Shoe build the monster! My God.
Is there another division more uninspiring than the AFC South? One could make a case for the NFC South, and possibly the AFC North and NFC West as well. The sad thing is, the Colts should be in the AFC North, where at least they’d have the luxury of playing a good team (Pittsburgh) twice a year, even though they’d get stomped both times. Kick Baltimore to the east and Miami to the south where they belong.
Is there a more uninspiring NFL team than Jacksonville? Even the Browns have devoted fans who show up every week, no matter how poorly things go. Jacksonville can’t even claim that.
Funny thing is, I barely remember any Colts wins over the Jags, even though the team holds a 21-10 series lead. I remember Bob Sanders planting Maurice Jones-Drew into the turf during a 2007 win. I remember Matt Hasselbeck playing well enough to beat them last season even though he was basically dying and no one outside of the team knew about it. That’s about it. I remember the losses, though. I remember them blowing a nice lead down in Jacksonville, then having their comeback attempt thwarted when Peyton Manning – get this kids, he’s actually human – got picked off to seal the loss. I remember them losing at home when Josh Scobee hit like a 92 yard field goal at the end of the game. I hated that dude. I remember Maurice Jones-Drew and every other player who scored seemingly scoring on nothing less than 85 yard plays in the infamous “375” game in 2006. How in the hell do you play in the NFL and give up 375 rushing yards in one game? I don’t know, but the Colts managed to do it, then win the Super Bowl 6 weeks later. I also remember Maurice Jones-Drew for his first down that sealed Jacksonville’s 19-13 win in 2011, thereby making “Suck for Luck” a reality. Then there’s been the last two games of the series, one where the Jags flat out took the Colts’ manhood away, and one ridiculously poor performance in a game overseas the Colts never should have agreed to play in.
I’m getting sick. Also, expect the Colts to win big Sunday since it doesn’t matter.
Thanks for all of the questions. I hope there will be a chance for another mailbag next week. I’ve enjoyed doing this, and appreciate those of you who’ve taken the time to read it. No matter how things are, this is a lot of fun for me, and it couldn’t happen without you people.
See you soon, Colts fans.