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18 to 88 answers questions from Total Titans

Thanks again to Nate Dunlevy of the great Colts blog 18 to 88 for participating in this week’s Q&A session.  Nate is probably my favorite opposing blogger to do a Q&A with because he writes with great insight and is willing to be objective in writing about his favorite team’s strengths and weaknesses.  I don’t always agree with him, but I hope you find his answers as enjoyable as I did.

Total Titans: Lots of interceptions. Lots of interceptions returned for touchdowns. What’s going on with Peyton Manning, and is he still a laser rocket armed destroyer of secondaries or now a normal human quarterback?

18 to 88: I have absolutely no explanation. His throws look fine.  He is making poor choices and being overly aggressive.  He started the season with 15 TDs and 2 picks, and then the wheels came off when Addai, Clark, and Collie went down.  If anything, it looks like mental fatigue.  He’s not willing to throw the ball away, punt, and fight another day.  It’s the return of 2000-2002 Peyton Manning, and I can’t figure out why.

Total Titans: The Colts running game used to feature interminable 3-5 yard runs.  This year it’s more like 0-2 yard runs.  Is it the running backs, the offensive line, the struggles with the passing game, or a combination of those?

18 to 88: The line is bad, ungodly bad.  It’s been bad for three years, but when you add major injuries to each of the top four running backs and mix in bad blocking, the result is one of the worst run games ever seen.  The run game was fine through 6 games, but the injury to Joseph Addai seems to have completely unglued the offense.

Total Titans: Very good against the pass, lousy against the run.  Is this the same Colts defense we’ve been used to saying, or we seeing more schematic changes in Year 2 of the Caldwell regime?

18 to 88: Larry Coyer is more aggressive in blitzing, but honestly, the Colts are better when they don’t blitz and play the good old Tampa 2.  The real problem in the run game has been instability at linebacker.  Gary Brackett and Clint Session have battled injuries, so we’ve seen rookies Kavell Conner and Pat Angerer play more than one could want.  Injuries to Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt haven’t helped either, as Aaron Francisco simply isn’t an NFL caliber safety and it shows in the run defense.

Total Titans: Injuries. Bob Sanders is hurt, but he’s hurt almost every year.  How bad have the injuries really been, and how much have they affected the performance of the offense or defense?

18 to 88: 

Indy has been among the top five most injured teams in football for a few years now, but this year has been a tidal wave.
Here’s who is missing on offense:

Joe Addai, Mike Hart, Devin Moore (KR, 4th string RB), and Don Brown have all missed time
Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and even 5th stringer Blair White and 2nd string TE Brody Eldrige
That’s a lot of talent to lose.

On defense, they’ve lost Sanders, Bullitt, and Jaime Silva at safety.

Hayden, Powers and Lacey have missed time at corner.

Brackett and Session have been hurt at linebacker.

I haven’t even gotten to the ‘little guys’ who seem to go down every week.  It’s not just been starters, it’s been backups too. This team was among the most talented rosters in the league at the start of the season, but from the first game on, it’s been a torrent of key cogs going down.

Total Titans: Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you want Titans fans to know about the Colts?

18 to 88: There’s no overt cause for Manning’s struggles.  Honestly, if he suddenly turned it back around and finished the year with 10 TDs and 0 picks, it wouldn’t be a surprise.  I don’t see any signs that that the struggles of the last month are a sign of ‘windows closing’ or indicative of major problems for the organization.  It basically comes down to an unstoppable wave of injuries coupled with four losses by a total of 11 points.  When the margin of defeat is that small, missing a guy or two (let alone 5 or 6) makes a huge difference.

Total Titans: Finally, if you want to make a score prediction, feel free.

18 to 88: I have NO idea what score to predict. There’s no way of knowing anything about either of these teams.  I’d say the score will be Q to P.  That makes as much sense as anything I’ve seen from them.

Thanks again to Nate for his answers, and be sure to check out 18 to 88 for my answers to his questions and more Colts news and analysis.