This Is A Long Season, Colts Fans

Corey McSweeneyAnalyst IOctober 19, 2008

A lot of things come out of nowhere. Some of them are good, like seeing that your 8 a.m. class was cancelled the night after the kegger at Jimmy’s dorm that lasted until 4:30 or Britney Spears fall apart a few years back. Fantastic.

Unexpected events can be bad, however, like sleeping in until 8:15 for that same class or seeing Britney Spears reemerge this past week with the song “Womanizer” (Seriously, why did that have to happen?). You get the point.

Watching the Colts-Packer game today felt the same way. I wrote this past week that I thought the Colts were finally out of their funk, and nearly everything I read and heard across the sports world, from the crew at NFL Sunday Countdown to the crazy Colts fans stationed outside of Lucas Oil Stadium last Sunday echoed the same sentiment. These were the Colts we all were used to seeing.

I guess not.

So what happened? Well, I know the reason, but I’m not sure why it is the reason. It all boils down to the big fella, Peyton Manning, all 6'5", 230 lbs of him.

The reason I bring up his size is that I’m not sure it’s correct. How can a guy that tall get so many passes tipped at the line of scrimmage? I’ve seen every Colts game for about five years and today's tip count outdid all the tips in all those previous games.

Seriously, it looked like Justin Harrell, Kabeer Gbaja Biamila, and Aaron Kampman were trying to get the teachers attention in class but he was ignoring them because he was staring at the blackboard. It was ridiculous. It got so bad that KGB actually batted a pass down that was below his waist late in the fourth quarter.  

That doesn’t even begin to explain the issues Manning is facing. He finished 21 of 42 for 229 yards, no TD’s and two picks. That’s Kerry Collins on a bad day, not Peyton Manning.

He just doesn’t look in sync with his receivers, which I know sounds ridiculous because he clicking on all cylinders last week. I think you can explain it partly by the Green Bay gusting winds (Hey, that should be their new name) and the fact that Manning struggles in bad weather because he is not used to playing in other than optimal conditions, but he has to get to a point where his stats and performance is at least passable.

You obviously can’t allow two pick sixes, no matter who you are, and Peyton Manning won’t do that again, I’ll bet you on it. He just has to work on the timing with his receivers and get that down pat again. He still has some work to do.

I’m not going to throw the O-Line under the bus, because, even though they’re struggling, they are doing just fine compared to some teams (San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit) and you have to realize that Ryan Lilja and Tony Ugoh aren’t in there.

Realizing that, I’m actually happy with the way these youngsters have stepped in and have been at least serviceable. That’s what Tony Dungy has asked of them, and that’s what they’re doing.

What about the defense? It’s kind of the same thing as the offensive line. When a guy like Bob Sanders goes down, this defense’s performance will go down. We know that and have to accept it. He changes the whole landscape of that defense. That’s the bottom line. We have to give them a break in the fact that they’re not built to be dominant without that dominant cog in the backfield.

Once Sanders get back on the field and Manning gets his groove back (Feel free to use that as your Manning Bros. biopic title, Universal) this team will be fine.

Sitting at 3-3, they have some tough games ahead against New England, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Tennessee, but then face cupcakes like Cincinnati, Detroit and Cleveland before playing Jacksonville and the Titans again. If I had to guess, I would say a 10-6 season, give or take a game or two, is what we are looking at. I’ll take that.

And I’ll take Britney Spears falling back into obscurity too, please.