Sunday, December 27, 2009

To Pull or Not to Pull?

Just some semi-incoherent, point form thoughts about the Colts decision to pull everyone in today's game:

1. Good theory, horrific execution. I'm all for sitting down Peyton, et al. when playoff seedings have been locked down. One missed blitz pickup and the whole season goes down the shitter. But the timing couldn't have been worse. The way Caldwell (or Polian, or whoever ultimately made the decision) pulled the starters at a seemingly random point midway through the third corner was unbelievable. Why lead everyone to think you're going to go for 15-0 and then just pull the rug out from under them? Why not pull them at halftime or after the third quarter? The timing of the move was infuriatingly bizarre.

2. There was no reason to be so coy with the media. It once again comes back to antagonizing the fan base. If Caldwell or Polian had indicated that this was the plan for the week, I think most rational people would have understood. But when the offensive starters played the first series of the third quarter, it made everyone watching think they were going for the win. The air was completely sucked out of the stadium when Painter ran onto the field. I could taste the disappointment through my TV speakers.

3. There's something to be said about taking the pressure of being undefeated off the team going into the playoffs. But the way it was handled will turn the decision itself into a huge distraction. The media will have a field day with it. Net gain: zero at best.

4. Way to throw Painter to the wolves. The kid might be ruined forever. Not that he was ever going to be good to begin with.

5. This move sets up morons with an easy way to criticize the Colts should they lose in the playoffs. The old story of the Colts losing because they rest players couldn't be more wrong. The 2003 team killed Denver and KC before losing on the road to the eventual champions, the Patriots. The 2004 team again crushed Denver before losing on the road to the eventual champions, the Patriots. You can throw the "rust" excuse right out the window considering they won playoff games before losing. The 2005 team lost a pretty crazy Divisional game to the eventual champion Steelers, two weeks after James Dungy killed himself. I think the off the field issues and Mike Vanderjagt missing a 46 yard field goal had more to do with losing a close game than resting starters did. The 2006 team didn't have a chance to rest anyone and won the Super Bowl. Please note that the 2002 Colts couldn't rest and lost immediately. The 2007 team rested starters and lost to the Chargers. This team was really beat up. Freeney didn't play, Mathis was not 100%, and Clark played with a broken hand (the potential game winning pass bounced off a bandaged hand). Marvin Harrison coughed up a killer fumble in the red zone. Most importantly, the defense fell apart in the second half, after a fine first half. Rest was no issue. The 2008 Colts rested and got beat by Mike Scifres and a Gijon Robinson missed block in the fourth quarter. The game was played in San Diego even though they were 8-8 while the Colts went 12-4. Oh, and the Chargers got the 16th draft pick, while the Colts picked 27th. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Anyway, myth debunked.

6. It sucked watching Peyton and Reggie and Dallas just sitting glumly on the bench as they watched a chance at history slip away. They know you don't get a chance to go undefeated every year. It takes a few bounces, a decent schedule, and good health. The looks on their faces said it all about what they wanted the coaches to do. Having said that, people who I've read on message boards saying the players are going to quit on the coaches because of this move is the most retarded thing you could possibly say. Obviously these guys still want the Super Bowl.

7. I've also been in message board conversations where people have asked me: "If they lose in the Divisional round, will you still be ok with the decision?" Of fucking course I will, because if they lose, this will have absolutely nothing to do with what happened today. Keep this shit in perspective. The Colts still have as good a chance as anyone to win the bloody Super Bowl.

8. Whether it was Caldwell or Polian who ultimately decided that starters should be benched today, I must commend him for having mighty big balls. He had to have known that this would be looked upon with a critical eye, and that if the team does not win the Super Bowl, fingers will be pointed directly at him, however unconnected the two events might be. The easier decision would have been leave everyone in. If there are injuries, its just bad luck; if they lose in the playoffs, its the players fault.

9. Summary: resting people, smart. Benching everyone in the middle of the third quarter in a game you're winning while currently 14-0 after not making any real indication you were planning on benching everyone, stupid. I agree with why they did it, but it felt like a big middle finger to the fans. I personally am alright with it, but I don't blame Colts fans for feeling like the got jobbed.