What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
For purposes of full disclosure, I originally intended to publish this post last week after the Colts suffered that crushing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But then I looked ahead on the Colts’ schedule, and I thought this week after what should be a decisive victory over a minor league team would actually be a better time to do it.
True to form, the Colts laid a 30-point beat down on Jacksonville, and even truer to form, the Indy media immediately began fulminating about how good the Colts are. Despite what happened yesterday, they aren’t. They’ve played three games so far, and two of them are not good test samples for determining if this team is any good. A road loss in Denver and a crush-job of the Jaguars should really be expected. But it is that non-contest with Jacksonville that has the Indy media crowing about how the “Colts are back.”
More disclosure: my life-long status as a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles has nothing to do with this post. It’s actually the entire reason I even watched that Monday night game in Indianapolis. I live in Indiana and I get a steady diet of the Colts. What got me off on this rant is the utter cry-baby-ism I heard coming from Indy sports talk radio come last Tuesday morning weighed in contrast to the peals from the trumpets of victory I’m getting today.
Boil it all down to gravy, and what you get is as a group, Colts fans are delusional, and the time for the delusions to stop is now.
There’s two sets of delusions we need to discuss here; short-term and long-term.
The short-term delusion is all about Colts fan’s thinking they have a Super Bowl-caliber team on their hands. This team should make the playoffs literally by default, because the AFC South is weaker than the Polish Cavalry and stadium beer combined. But the Eagles game brings us directly to the long-term delusion. The Colts are not a Super Bowl team because they can’t even beat mediocre teams, and Colts fans don’t see the reasons why.
As far as the outcome of the Philadelphia game is concerned, the popular bleat is the officials screwed the Colts. I’ll give you the officiating in that game was horrible. I’ll even give you that the non-call on what should have been defensive holding on T.Y. Hilton, which in turn caused that drive-killing interception was a gut-punch to the Colts’ chances of victory, but it certainly wasn’t the fatal blow. See, the big problem with blaming the refs for a loss is that there’s always a point where events give that claim a shred of legitimacy. The interception as result of T.Y. Hilton’s getting street-mugged is just such a moment.
In other words, I get that was a horse-shit call, but pretending that was the reason the Colts lost that game is simply…wait for it…delusional.
A common flaw in the “blame the refs” approach is it tends to ignore a host of events that lead up to the “crucial” moment that was “blown” by the officials. I can hear Colts fans already.
“But what about that bullshit horse-collar penalty? That’s why we lost.”
No, it’s not. You can trot out every call in that game, and you still won’t find the reasons why that game dropped into the “L” column for Indianapolis. For that, all fans of the Colts have only one place to look…the Colts coaching staff. That loss rests solely on the shoulders of head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton…nobody else. It also means that as long a Pagano and Hamilton call the shots in Indy, Colts fans better prepare themselves for a steady diet of these kinds of losses.
In places he has no choice but to admit, Chuck Pagano knows this. We know this because Pagano himself made a tacit admission that blaming the officials is an exercise in abject futility. He knows damn good and well that the Colts “can’t count on getting a call here or a call there.” He even knows the Colts just have to be better. Obviously, he’s right, but here’s where we come back to that whole “shred of legitimacy” thing. Blaming the officials ignores the fact that in the second half before those blown calls, the Eagles were shredding the Colts defense and Pagano never adjusted. It also ignores the fact that after those calls, the Colts still had chances to win, but Pep Hamilton’s play-calling wasted them.
Colts fans…you don’t have to like that assessment, but you have to accept it.
Walk through it with me. I’m watching that game, and at halftime I’m wondering how the hell are the Eagles losing to Indianapolis? Luck is the real deal as a quarterback, the receiving corps is respectable, but that team can’t run the ball, and defensively they can’t stop anything. The Colts got away with it in the first half, and the second half exposed it. Humpty Pagano fell off the wall, and all of Irsay’s horses and all of Irsay’s men couldn’t put him back together again.
Face it. The Indy media has put Chuck Pagano on a pedestal for whatever reason, and he’s never going to get questioned for the obvious flaws in his team or the even more obvious flaws in Hamilton’s play-calling. See, the Colts have this wonderful “king-making” machine in their willing thralls in the Indianapolis media. It doesn’t take long for a newcomer to Hoosierland to realize that the Colts exercise a North Korean approach to the media; only guys willing to be little more than an extension of the team’s Public Relations department get press credentials. That’s why Jim Irsay’s obvious addiction problems stayed under it ended up in an arrest, that’s why Tony Dungy gets a life-long pass for being one of the worst play-off coaches in NFL history, and it’s why Chuck Pagano isn’t going to get grilled over his horse-shit coaching.
This week, everything is milk and honey because like I said, the Colts just whipped ass on a team they should have whipped ass on. The same should happen next week against Tennessee. It could keep happening through the regular season because as I’ve already mentioned, the Colts schedule is softer than a marshmallow in a microwave. But at some point, a scenario just like the second half of the Philadelphia game is going to happen again.
That’s why Colts fans need to revisit that 30 minutes of football, and the post-game press conference after it.
Chuck Pagano can lay out all the bullshit he wants to about how “that’s a game we just needed to win.” He trotted out several of the classic clichés for an underperforming football team.
All of that begins with you and your staff, Chuck. If you had been able to adjust against Philadelphia when you clearly needed to do so, you would have won. But you didn’t. Worse yet, everything I’m talking about can be exemplified in one series during a CRUCIAL stretch of the game.
The scene: the score is ties at 27, there’s just under four minutes to go in the game, and the Colts have the ball. The Colts also have Andrew Luck, who has led 11 game winning drives in his short NFL career. Despite the fact Luck played poorly for much of the game up to this point, but earlier in the fourth quarter he led a go-ahead drive, completing 7 of 9 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. In other words, he was primed to go out and do what “franchise” quarterbacks do; win the fucking game when it matters.
That was until Pagano and Hamilton unleashed some of the most bizarre play calling I’ve seen since Rich “Decline The Penalty and Punt” Kotite.
So, let me get this straight. With the ball game on the line, and with the passing game the only thing that worked all night long for the Colts, Pagano and Hamilton decided to give the ball to the one weapon in that offense the DEFINES “ineffective.” They did this not once, but twice. TWICE!!!
In other words, the Colts had plenty of time, all they need is a field goal to win, and they have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the entire NFL leading the way. Yet, they decide in this situation to literally take the ball out of Luck’s hands. I can’t even imagine what these two were thinking. Andrew Luck had a golden opportunity to win that game, and Pagano and Hamilton never gave him a chance.
Forget the shitty officiating. Despite it, this was a game the Colts should have won.
Take a page from the Jim Mora book and forget about “Play-offs.” Stop looking ahead and look back at a blown 14-point lead.
If this team has any hope of going anywhere come January, Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton need to head to the nearest Office Depot, get an industrial-sized bottle of White-Out, and have a “Tom Sawyer”-sized whitewash party on their playbook. Until they do that, this Indianapolis Colts will have already seen their the top of their potential; 10 or 11 wins; but one at the most when it counts come January.
Thinking anything else is simply delusional.