Monday, January 5, 2009

I hate to say I told you so. No wait, I love saying it.

Last week I predicted that the Chargers would beat the Colts. I'm not saying that I don't like the Colts. They're OK. Peyton is a great quarterback and his name will be mentioned in the "best ever" category when its all said and done but his playoff record is less than stellar. I pedestrian 7-8 with three of those wins coming in their superbowl season a couple of years ago. So what's up with him? A found the below article on a link through Barstool Sports. It was written Friday January 2. Virtually everything in this article is something that I've discussed with Dan at one point. Peyton is not a big game quarterback and the clock is ticking. Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Kurt Warner, Bret Farvra, Doug Williams, Joe Namath and Jim Plunkett have all won a superbowl. The only person you can mention in the same breath as Peyton is Farvra and if he's continues on the path of psychotic self destruction (which I'm personally rooting for) then the only thing that will separate Peyton from this list is yards and touchdowns.

In the NFL, more than any other sport, Superbowls help define your career. Warner has as many superbowl victories, more appearances in the superbowl and more post season wins than Peyton Manning. Maybe Indy should be looking for a trade with Arizona in the off-season. Well, only if they want to win in the playoffs. From the Indianapolis Star.

We were talking on the radio, and I got to wondering:
What if the Colts somehow lose on Saturday? How will history treat them? How will we treat them?

After six straight seasons of 12 victories or more, but just one Super Bowl appearance/victory, what will their legacy be?

Now, before the multitudes attack, let me quickly add that I believe the Colts will win Saturday's game in San Diego. The Chargers are hot, but the Colts are hotter. The Chargers are playing better than earlier this season, but they're 0-5 against playoff teams. They dropped 52 on Denver, but as Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler said, "We can't stop anybody.'' San Diego is dangerous, especially if the Colts let Darren Sproles hurt them on special teams, but the bottom line is, they're wretched against the pass, meaning Peyton Manning should have a monster day.
(Oh, and a quick aside: I've been informed that in the first known example of bulletin-board material being provided by a vanquished team, the Chargers are using Cutler's San Diego loss observation as their rallying cry for this week. So we can't blame this one on Mike Vanderjagt. At least not without trying real hard.)

OK, then.

But let's play "what if . . .''

What if they lose?
What will be the ugly fallout?

I've written this before and I said it on the radio the other day and I'll write it again: They will cast themselves as the Atlanta Braves of the NFL. One great regular season after another, one postseason appearance after another, and just one championship to show for it.

Look at history. The only teams that have done what the Colts have done, stringing together all these double-digit-victory seasons, are the dynastic San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.

Those teams won multiple Super Bowls. The Colts need to win multiple Super Bowls to fully validate and bring into focus the scope of this run of excellence.

And there's no excuse this time. No New England lying in wait. No dominant AFC team preparing to pounce on the unsuspecting Colts. No major Colts injuries, except for Gary Brackett's fractured fibula. No extended rest periods, providing the excuse that maybe they got rusty during the time off.

They will have to travel the hard road -- probably three road games unless Baltimore springs some surprises -- but this team has shown it can win on the road. Heaven knows, it hasn't handled home-field prosperity in the past.

In my addled mind, anything short of an appearance in the AFC Championship Game is a disappointing season. Ordinarily, I would say anything short of a Super Bowl would be a disappointment, but given how and where they started, how far they've come back and how hard it's going to be to reach the conference final, I'm willing to lower the bar just a bit.
But they've got to beat San Diego, at the very least.

And if they don't?

What will history say about Manning, at least at this point in his career? He will leave the game someday owning every statistical record, and for all we know, he might win a couple of more Super Bowls, but at this point, a loss would make him 7-8 in the postseason with some very ordinary numbers. That's not the record of a legendary quarterback. Call me crazy, but even at this point in his career, I'm not completely sure I trust Manning in the playoffs. Some games he's extraordinary; others he's very average.

What will history say about Tony Dungy? First, a loss would probably be his last game as the Colts coach. But his postseason record would move to 9-10. Clearly, Dungy is one of the all-time great coaches and his regular-season record with two franchises is beyond compare. Nobody, not a quarterback nor a coach, should be judged solely by his postseason accomplishments.

But how do you ignore 9-10 in the postseason? How do you ignore the one-and-dones in Tampa, the one-and-dones here against the Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego and, perhaps again, San Diego?
The Colts now are playing for more than a chance to reach the Super Bowl; they're playing for their place in history. There may be more 12-win seasons, more postseason chances, but these kinds of runs don't last forever. So the question is what they do with this opportunity, as good an opportunity as they've ever had.

If they can run the football, even a little bit, even as a mere threat to keep the linebackers and safeties honest, they can go to Tampa. The record doesn't lie: Playoff teams that don't run don't go deep into the postseason. But, then, the record said teams with lousy run defenses don't win Super Bowls, so in 2006, the Colts' porous run defenders turned into the Monsters of the Midway.

San Diego beckons. And history awaits.

1 comment:

Uncle Scooty said...

I don't have much of an opinion one way or the other on Indy. I do like Tony Dungy, and have followed his career since he was a freshman QB from Jackson, MI at the U of Minnesota. ESPN radio went off on this subject this morning and put the blame on Dungy, and not so much on Manning. Unlike when ther 49ers and Cowboys were winning, they were head and shoulders above the competition in both the AFC and NFC. There is more parity now, and the AFC is tough (coming from an NFC fan). Dungy is too nice, and is not a**hole enough to consistently win.

Speaking of ESPN Blather Radio, I am sick of blowhards like Mel Kiper, Jr telling me Joe Klacko came from 1-AA (Delaware), so he has never seen the type of competition the "big boys" have. Keyshawn "I quit on my team" Johnson said as much when he said these 1-AA guys have never had to play in a "big game" like the Rose Bowl. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but it's what you have upstairs and inside your chest that counts. Some 1-AA guys that come to mind off the top of my head without any thought are Walter Payton (Jackson State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Terry Bradshaw (La. Tech - 1-AA at the time), Randy Moss (Marshall, ditto), Jared Allen (Idaho State), Brian Urlacher (New Mexico Highlands), Joe Greene (North Texas State) etc. etc. Hey Mel and Keyshawn - maybe you've heard of 'em. I would put these guys up against just about anyone from a big name school.