The 2009 Colts are one of the oddest teams that has come along in years. They have injuries galore, they can’t run the ball very well, the defense can’t stop the run or get off the field on third down consistently, they make mistakes, and oh, by the way, they’re 10-0.
The only area of the team, which is almost beyond reproach, is the offenses' passing game; they are ranked No. 1, so it’s hard to knock them. Still, even No.18, who is on his way to another MVP season, has had mistake filled games.
When examining the performance of the team in other areas of play, they are either mediocre or flat out bad. What’s more disturbing, is that they don’t seem to be improving.
For example, in the past three weeks, the Colts have rushed for 67, 77 yards, and 84 yards respectively. What do you say about those numbers? You would be hard pressed to say that the running game is improving significantly, if at all.
Even with the replacement of Mike Pollack for Kyle Devan, which was a great move, the running game hasn’t improved that much.
The Colts run defense hasn’t been consistent either. If you look at the stats, they go up and down, week by week.
The pass defense hasn’t fared much better. In fairness, there are two rookie defensive backs playing, but the rest of the guys out there have been in the system for a while.
Larry Coyer was brought in to shore up the running game, get the defense off the field on third down, and not have the whole pass rush depend on the front four. To his credit, he has improved those three areas to some degree.
On the other hand, he is not as aggressive as he should be, they're not doing enough zone blitzing, and there is still way too much soft-zone coverage being played. The cornerbacks play too far off the receivers, giving them huge cushions, which are leading to easy completions for opposing quarterbacks.
Tackling is also still an issue. This is the second year in a row where the defenders miss tackles, which in turn, lead to big gains by the opposing offense.
Special teams are another area that has improved, but again, their performance changes week by week, and at best they are nothing to rave about.
There is one area the Colts have been consistent in. The red zone. They don’t allow many touchdowns. This, more than anything, has kept the Colts in a lot of games. Staying close allows Peyton to do his magic, which in turn has lead the team to a 10-0 record.
Reading this, you can’t help but ask an obvious question: how does this team keep winning every week?
There is only one answer—this whole team has the will to win. It’s not something you can teach, either players believe they are winners or they don’t. The Colts walk into every game knowing, not hoping, that they will win.
It starts with No. 18 and permeates every square inch of the locker room. There is no quit in Peyton and there is no quit in this team. Peyton Manning reminds me of Maximus from Gladiator. He leads by example, the team feeds off of that, and follow him into battle, never questioning whether they will succed or not. They love their general, and the thought of letting him down is worse than death to them.
You won’t see it in any statistic. It’s not something that can be quantified, categorized, or put into a little box. From the coaching staff to the undrafted rookies, this team plays for 60 minutes with the calm that comes from knowing that no matter what happens, they will find a way to walk away victorious.
Since they believe in their leader, in themselves, and the guys standing next to them, failure is not an option, and so, they succeed.
That’s exactly what has been happening over the past 10 weeks. Even though I think this team will lose a game or two, in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter. When it matters most, the will to win has become a part of their very being.
We may be witnessing something that will never happen again. One of the best quarterbacks in the past 30 years, leading, on paper, a team with so many issues that they should be competing for one of first five picks in next years draft, to what matters most:a championship in Super Bowl XLIV.