Week 8 Mailbag

Week 8 Mailbag

Colts

Week 8 Mailbag

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Hello, Colts fans. The boys managed to steal victory from the grasp of defeat in Tennessee on Sunday. This win coupled with Houston’s loss on Monday night means the team is right back into the mix of things for the division. Two big games – home against Kansas City, then at Green Bay – are on the horizon, and I think it’s fair to call this the make or break point of the season.

It’s a much lighter mailbag this week, proving my theory that nothing succeeds like losing and coaching blunders.

Let’s see what’s on your minds…

Q: What would you consider the team’s spirit animal to be at this point in the season? Explain. – Kimberly Anne via Facebook

Congratulations (?) Kimberly for asking the type of question I never expected to have to try and answer. For your efforts you’ll receive a free copy of the best seller “Clock Management And The Fundamentals Of Wood Chopping” by Chuck Pagano. Available in fine stores nowhere.

Kim later mentioned she was going to pick the sloth as her answer. I was inclined to agree, but a sloth in captivity sleeps 18 to 20 hours a day – yes, I looked it up – and while our boys in blue have a tendency to doze off during games, I think they’re more awake than the typical sloth. If any word describes the Colts to me, it’s “inconsistent.” I read an excerpt of a book on spirit animals by a lady whose name I no longer remember, and she listed “inconsistent” as a trait belonging to the deer. Now, I can’t pretend to know what one has to smoke in order to write a book on spirit animals and say “this makes perfect sense,” but clearly this lady has never stepped foot in the state of Indiana. “Inconsistent” is one of the last things I’d use to describe a deer.

I’m going to go with the rhino as my choice. On one hand you have this big, powerful, fast animal who could destroy you in a matter of seconds if the mood strikes them. On the other hand, you have this animal that always seems to be standing around doing nothing with a “well, duh” demeanor about it. That’s inconsistent, right?

Q: Where are the Tarik Glenn’s of yesteryear? – Stan via Facebook

Ah yes, Tarik Glenn. #78. The longtime protector of Peyton Manning’s blindside, and always good for a false start or twelve. I’m not sure how he compares historically to the best left tackles in the game, but Tarik was pretty good. I met him once. He was extremely nice. He’s also one of the largest people I’ve ever seen. It was just a typical July day, but I swear when he walked towards me he blotted out the sun.

I wouldn’t mind a 27 year old Tarik Glenn in place of Anthony Castonzo.

Speaking of guys who wear #78, how about Ryan Kelly? While the media vastly overplays the “the Colts line is terrible!” angle, imagine what it would be like without Kelly in the middle. We all like to pile on Ryan Grigson, but he guessed correctly when he drafted Kelly.

Q: Jack Doyle seems to be one of the few bright spots of the season, but it seems a lot of TE’s do well with Luck. Are they actually great players, or is it more the way the offense is designed that allows these TE’s to be wide open so often? – Nick via text

Great question. I love Jack Doyle, and would say the same even if he hadn’t had such a big game against Tennessee. You could see the progression in his game last season. Statistically it may not have been great – remember, he was the third string TE – but you could count on him if needed. This progression made it easy for them to walk away from Coby Fleener. Doyle and Fleener are somewhat similar. Both tend to catch most passes thrown their way, and neither are particularly great at blocking. The big difference is when Doyle gets the ball, he gains yards afterwards. Fleener was absolutely terrible at gaining anything after a catch.

As for your question, I think it’s a bit of both. Whether it was Allen/Fleener/Doyle, or now Allen/Doyle/Swoope, there’s been talent at the position. Andrew seems to have good symmetry with whoever is out there. Call me crazy, but I don’t see a huge difference in what they tried to do with Pep Hamilton running the offense compared to what they try to do under Rob Chudzinski. They’re less no huddle/up tempo, and a bit more conservative, but the goal – to throw it down the field – doesn’t seem much different to my eyes. This kind of attack lends itself to success with the tight ends, because you end up with defenses worried about the wide outs beating them deep.

Speaking of Doyle, Pat McAfee wore this shirt to practice yesterday, and it is amazing:

doyletshirt

Q: What will it take to get Chuck Pagano fired? – C via text

An act of Congress? I’m not even sure that would work, as no doubt someone would filibuster about how important chopping wood is to the American economy or something. I think we’re stuck with Chuck. Yuck.

During this same conversation, Colleen – a Nevada alum – asked if we’d be interested in stealing away Nevada coach Brian Polian to be Chuck’s replacement. If the last name sounds familiar, it should. He is Bill’s son. He was also on staff at Stanford – special teams and recruiting coordinator – when a certain current Colts QB was taking snaps there. There are some similarities between Polian and Pagano. Both were fairly successful as assistant coaches before getting their first head coaching jobs with their current teams. Polian was given the job by an outgoing AD, and Pagano was not hired by Ryan Grigson. Both have teams who are achieving below what fans want to see.

I think we’ll pass, but it would be somewhat amusing to see Jim Irsay hit the trifecta by firing three different Polian’s in one lifetime.

Q: Fans from the UK are coming in for the Chiefs game. What should they expect? – Jodi via text

Oh no. Are you serious? You mean the same people who caused the team to lose to Jacksonville because the Colts were stupid enough to agree to play in London? No, I will not allow this. Just kidding. Mostly.

What should they expect? Well, I guess it depends on whether you mean Indy or the game itself. How about a bit of both?

1- Overweight people. I don’t mean to sound rude. There’s nothing wrong with overweight people, and being overweight doesn’t determine ones worth as a person. I’m merely saying Indiana is one of the fattest states in the union, so you will see some.

2- Good food and drink. This is also why reason #1 is where it is. There are a plethora of places not far from the stadium where you can indulge yourself mightily. I’m not sure I trust Jodi to take you to the right places, but the places are there. While I don’t know if this is the first visit to Indy for the people in question, I do think every fan should visit the Colts Grille on their first visit. Have a beer or two, and make sure if you’re a guy that you make use of the restrooms. Disclaimer: Flip flops or sandals should not be worn if one does in fact visit the restroom. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.

3- Ladies. There will be no shortage of them to take a gander at, unless, as expected, Jodi takes you to the wrong places. Even then you may still get lucky.

4- A good game, or at least one that’s close on the scoreboard. The Colts have traditionally had KC’s number, but it seems like many of those games have been close. A lot of media people have jumped on the Chiefs’ bandwagon. They’re 4-2 and right in the mix of things in the AFC West. Their offense hasn’t been great, but their defense is good, which makes them polar opposites of the Colts. Don’t be surprised if this ends up a 41-38 game, no matter who wins.

5- The return of Donte Moncrief. Offensively, the Colts haven’t been bad without Moncrief, but they are in much better shape when he’s out there. He’s a proven commodity other teams can’t dismiss, unlike a Dorsett or a Rogers, or whomever. Kudos to TY Hilton for being able to thrive in Moncrief’s absence.

Q: How about Vinny?! (This is your opportunity to gush about Adam). That’s all I got. This team has me in a conundrum. – Amy Louise via Facebook

Let’s call Adam Vinatieri what he is: The greatest kicker in NFL history. Everyone takes kickers for granted until they don’t have a good one, and Indianapolis is beyond blessed to have Vinny. I remember hating him in New England because he never missed. One day I was at a friend’s house watching games, and we ended up with bonus coverage of the Patriots and Texans. Vinny was on the field about to attempt a game winning kick when the graphic saying he’d never had a kick blocked flashed on the screen. Well, guess what? His kick was blocked, and we all laughed hysterically because it was the first time we’d ever seen him miss. The Patriots ended up winning in overtime that day on….surprise…a Vinny field goal.

I’m sure when you think of Tony Dungy, you think of many things: Being the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. Maybe you think about him standing on the podium that day, holding the Super Bowl trophy in the rain, the mission finally accomplished. Maybe you think about his sayings, like “Your perception is your reality,” or “No excuses, no explanations.” Maybe you think of his religious beliefs, and how he made those beliefs a central part of his coaching philosophy. I don’t think of those things, at least not first. My forever enduring thought of Tony Dungy is him standing on the sideline in Baltimore, pumping his fist and saying “money” after Vinny hit his fifth kick of the day to clinch the playoff win.

God bless you, Vinny.

Q: Why do you think NFL TV ratings have dropped? – C via text

If you step back and look at it, it’s really amazing how profitable the NFL is given the steps they take to cut fans off from their product. They sell the Direct TV package and its “Sunday Ticket,” but Direct TV doesn’t even work in some areas of the country – bigger areas than what you might think – and in many places where it does work, it doesn’t work consistently. At the same time, regional coverage will never die, because the league wants to make sure local markets are also getting ratings. What they say is “Sorry, Tampa fan now living in New Mexico. Have fun watching the Cardinals or Cowboys, and let us know if you want to pay for that Direct TV thing that may or may not work in your area. We love you, though. Buy some pink merchandise and support breast cancer awareness!” Why the league hasn’t sat down with these TV providers and said “We’ll continue to run regional coverage, but we want a Sunday Ticket-type package made available by every cable TV provider, and remember folks, when you cut that check, Goodell is spelled with two l’s.” Look, I could go on about this forever, but I’ve already spent enough on it. I’m aware it’s not as easy as I wish it were.

Let’s move on to a different aspect of the TV coverage…

The prime time games. Disastrous prime time match-ups are nothing new, but it sure seems like it gets worse each year. Tonight we have Tennessee against Jacksonville. Who really wants to watch that? I certainly will not. This one is an example of just flat out poor scheduling by the league. You also have instances like the other night, when Arizona and Seattle slogged their way to a 6-6 tie. If you scanned the schedule at the start of the season and saw Arizona – Seattle on national TV, you’d say “that should be a good game,” because both teams had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. While Arizona hasn’t played up to expectations, the match-up was still a good one with playoff implications, but the game turned out to be a disaster. I can’t blame the league for something like that. A few years ago the league implemented flex scheduling, and I think this is something they need to revisit this off season. I believe the flex scheduling does not come into play until after half of the season has passed. Maybe it would be better if they moved it up to a quarter of the season in. A poor showing through four games isn’t necessarily a reason to tell a team “Hey look, you’re off MNF for week 14,” but I think it’s valid enough to say “You’re off MNF for week 5.” Again, it’s not as easy as I wish. You’d have CBA implications, you’d have the league pissing off teams who don’t typically get a lot of prime time games, etc., but there has to be a better way than the current one.

Moving on…

There are some who say the CBA’s restrictions on practice times and the amount of contact allowed during practices has led to injuries and a lesser product on the field. My first impulse is to disagree, but there’s probably some truth to the argument. I agree it makes sense that lesser practice time could produce teams or players who aren’t as sharp, but I disagree on that being the main cause of injuries. Earlier this year, Teddy Bridgewater’s knee went in about six million different directions. No one even touched him. Can you fault fewer practices for that?  Jordy Nelson tore his ACL running a route in practice last season. No one touched him, either. Is this because he didn’t practice enough, or was it just a freak thing? I think people overlook a crucial aspect about training camp/practice injuries, which is some guys show up not in shape to be out there.

Here’s what I think is NOT the cause of a ratings drop….

Before I start, I want to mention that the below is merely my opinion and not the opinion of Colts Authority or any of our fine editors and writers.

I don’t for a second buy Jim Irsay’s opinion that players protesting the national anthem is causing fans to tune out. That’s hogwash. You have a 2-3 minute song that proceeds 3 hours worth of football, and people won’t watch because a few players might kneel during said song? Please. If there are people doing that, then they aren’t really football fans to begin with.

I love America. I love the national anthem. I’m old, and I grew up where if you were in public and the anthem played, you stood at attention until it was finished. That’s what I saw growing up, and it’s what I believe. Not even a week ago I headed to a high school football game with my daughter. Literally as we’re at the ticket booth, the anthem started. I removed my hat and placed my arm across my chest, and we stood still until it was finished. That’s how *I* do it.

But that doesn’t mean my way is the only way.

I can’t lie. When I first saw Colin Kaepernick protesting the anthem I felt some disappointment, because I wished he had chosen a different method of protest. I will, however, absolutely and without question, defend his right to use the anthem as his method of protest. He, and any other player, will never get crap from me for this.

I see many speak on freedom and an individual’s right of choice, and I see so many who get it wrong. You cannot scream of freedom and individual rights when it’s just a protest by someone you like, or when it’s just a cause you support. To truly have freedom, we must also defend those who we may not like, or those who stand for a cause we disagree with. Give me that, America, and then we are truly free.

 

See you soon, Colts fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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