Why Dwight Freeney's Injury Will Be the Big Story on Super Bowl Sunday

Mr. Jones and MeCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 08:  Dwight Freeney #93 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a sack during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 20-17.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Saints offense is a thing of beauty, like an artist practicing his craft.


It’s Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, or Beethoven playing his Fifth Symphony, or Michael Flatley performing Lord of the Dance.


All kidding aside, the Saints offense runs like a well-oiled machine. Its wealth of moving parts—Marques Colston, Pierre Thomas, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Reggie Bush—work in sync and with a fluidity that can’t be matched by any other NFL team.  Quarterback Drew Brees? He is the engine that makes the whole thing go, of course.


So how do you stop a well-oiled machine? You throw a wrench into the works.


The Colts have a wrench. His name is Dwight Freeney. He believes that if he hits the engine enough, the rest of the cogs and gears will stop working. He’s probably right.


But Dwight Freeney tore a ligament in his ankle late in the Colts' AFC Championship victory over the Jets. He is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIV showdown with the Saints.


Freeney is the league’s premier pass rusher and not someone that the Colts can easily replace. This is especially problematic since applying pressure to Drew Brees is essential to the Colts' success.


Brees loves to drop back and throw downfield, and without the constant pressure of Freeney, Brees should be able to find the time to make big plays downfield to his receivers, Colston, Henderson, and Meachem.


Furthermore, Colts fans should not get too excited if Freeney does suit up on Sunday. An ankle injury of that magnitude is a significant injury, and Freeney will not be close to 100 percent.


In fact, it is almost a certainty that Freeney would not play Sunday if it were any other game of the season.


Dwight Freeney at even 50 percent is better than no Dwight Freeney at all. However, the significance of the Freeney injury cannot be downplayed, and very likely could be the story we remember when thinking back on Super Bowl XLIV in the future.


Freeney will not be the pass-rushing beast we are accustomed to on Sunday. He may indeed play, but his effectiveness will be limited by what is certainly a serious injury. 


The Saints offense is too good to be stopped without a major disturbance. Without Freeney to cause that disturbance, I expect the Saints offense to run with few hitches on Sunday. 


The Colts have been considered the favorite to win Sunday’s big game since the matchup was set following the Saints overtime victory over Brett Favre and the Vikings. The Dwight Freeney injury evens the odds. All bets are off.


The Colts better hope they can find another wrench by Sunday.