Our friend, BigBlueShoe, blogger extraordinaire from Stampede Blue, was kind enough to answer 5 Questions about the Indy Colts. See his answers below and take note, he knows his Colts. I answered 5 Questions about the Cowboys over at his site, check it out here.
BigBlueShoe: Well, I actually think it's a good thing they aren't blowing anyone away. And, in regards to them not blowing out bad teams, few teams this year are. Look at Baltimore last week. Despite a great defense and a very good QB, they had to come back to win (and get some sketchy calls to go their way) to beat the Titans. The whole "Any Given Sunday" thing is a theme this season.
BTB: How has the Colts running game and RB passing game changed from Edge to Addai/Rhodes?
BBS: It hasn't. This time last season, Edgerrin James had 1,027 yards and 9 TDs. This season, the combo of Addai/Rhodes has generated 960 yards and 9 TDs. Most Colts will tell you that if Addai (4.5 ypc) ran more than Rhodes (3.4 ypc) the total rushing yards would be up. The Colts offense, though, hasn't missed a beat. It's ranked #2 in total yards and is in the top 5 in PPG. Teams are also blitzing the Colts more, using the San Diego/Pittsburgh blueprint. When the defense blitzes, it makes it hard to run. It also means one-on-one coverage with Harrison and Wayne. So really, not much has changed.
BTB: What's the main issue with the Colts run defense? Why are teams running on them so much this year?
BBS: Injuries. Losing Corey Simon hurt. They've played without their safety Bob Sanders most of the season. Their other DT, Montae Reagor, is also out. They've got a new LBer in Gilbert Gardner. Booger McFarland is just now getting used to his new team. There's just been a lot of change, and whenever you have drastic change on a defense it will hurt its effectiveness. Also, teams are game planning to run against Indy more because the want to keep Manning off the field. Also, because the Colts pass rush is so fierce, teams employ quick three-step drops when they throw. Teams rarely throw it deep, and when they do it is often a turnover (see Tom Brady). So, it's a combination of those things.
BTB: What does the Colts fan base think about prospects of an undefeated season, and how does that relate to a Super Bowl run? Do you put any stock in the theory that losing a game can take the pressure off a team?
BBS: Colts fans want the team to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. EVERY FAN wants their team to win every single game in their season. Fans who want their team to lose a game are cowardly fans. You should want to win, all the time, no matter what. So no, I don't put stock in that theory. A team game prepares to win each game. The second you stop doing that, you are officially a loser, and you won't win anything. The Colts players typically don't get cuaght up in the media barf fest whenever their team is flirting with an undefeated season. They game plan. They play. they win. They shake hands. They start the process all over again next week. The only people who make a big deal out of it are the media, and the Colts shouldn't give a rat's butt what the media thinks, says, or does.
BTB: If you were scouting the Colts, what's the best way to go about beating them?
BBS: To be honest, there is no one method to beat the Colts. Whenever some moron pundit points to "X" strategy to beat the Colts, the Colts typically go out and clobber that team employing said "X" strategy. (ed. note - for one moron's view, go here) All season long, teams have tried using the San Diego/Pittsburgh blitz package to disrupt Manning. Has it worked? New England tried it Sunday Night and got torched. Buffalo used the old New England tactic of playing 8 back, and Manning dinked and dunked it all over the field enroute to a win. Had it not been for two dumb fumbles, Buffalo gets blown out. Defensively, if it were as simple as running the ball at Indy, why haven't teams just done that? Tennessee, Buffalo, the Giants, the Jets, Washington, and Denver all tried that... and they all lost. So, if I had to scout them, I'd just say go out there and play your game. Don't try and create some master scheme to stop them. Go do what you do. Make them adjust to you. If you blitz Manning you better get him, because if you don't the game could be over at halftime. If you play back, enjoy a long day of short passes and screens.
BTB: Bonus Question - for comedic effect only: With Vinateri's injuries and his misses in New England, do you secretly wish you had Mike Vanderjagt back? Besides, Vanderjagt's more fun at open bars.
BBS: Vinatieri has been named AFC ST player of the week twice this season. He has yet to miss a kick in the RCA Dome in his CAREER. His kickoffs have been great. His misses in NE were nothing to get upset about. He was back in NE, and that's a TON of pressure and emotion. So no, I'm fine with Adam. You can keep Vandy. Yes, he's fun in open bars, and after he misses yet another big kick for your team, you will often find yourself in a bar, drinking away your misery at yet another missed opportunity. Trust me. I know from experience.