Colts' defense, running game appear to be real deal
Posted: Friday September 7, 2007 10:18AM; Updated: Friday September 7, 2007 11:41AM
"What did you see in Colts-Saints Thursday night?" was the question posed by Frank from Forest Hills, Queens. Gosh, Frank, I thought you'd never ask.
I saw an Indy defense that dominated. I think we have to get used to this phenomenon. Let's not forget that the Colts' D finished strong last year, going right into the Super Bowl, in which Rex Grossman was overmatched against it. And so was Drew Brees on Thursday night. Is this the same defense that's been a little sister to Peyton and the boys all these years? No, it's different. I don't want to get all carried away, because this was only one game, and so forth, but gosh, what if they're really this good?
The consistent knock has been that they don't have any big boys along the front wall. The Corey Simon incident was a weird kind of fiasco. Then Booger McFarland went and got hurt. Uh oh, we're back to the little people. But against the Saints, who can put together a running game, it didn't matter because the linebackers were so sturdy. Rob Morris, who pays the strongside, can take on blockers without giving ground. Bob Sanders, the strong safety, has that quick striking power, and Freddy Keiaho on the weakside ... well, was I seeing things? He played what the British would call a "blinder" of a game. How about that play where he read the screen and rolled up 315-pound Jon Stinchcomb into Reggie Bush and nailed the whole thing for a 5-yard loss, all by himself? A big play? All it did was stuff the Saints on third down and close them out at the end of a 10-10 first half. It was my favorite play of the game.
When you've got muscle guys like that playing behind the line, you can get away with quickness up front, which allows a nifty but undersized (274) interior lineman such as Raheem Brock to flourish. The Saints looked like they were playing some kind of prevent-offense, taking no chances, keeping everything underneath, allowing no deep patterns to develop, both from fear of the rush and respect for a zone that kept everything in front. This weird attack, the ultimate in dinkery, played right into the Colts' hands, but who knows? Maybe if they'd have tried to stretch the field, they'd have had more turnovers.
OK, so Peyton ate up right cornerback Jason David, who was a stiff in Indy and looks like he's doing a repeat in New Orleans. Peyton can be vicious when he finds a pigeon. What was the name of that poor Denver reserve corner whom he savaged in a playoff game a few years ago ... Rock Somebody, wasn't it? I got a real kick out of that interview he did with Andrea Kremer after the Saints game when he said, with a straight face, "Oh no, we weren't trying to pick on any one individual," and Andrea, when we get through with this, I've got these three shells and the idea is for you to guess which one the pea is under.
Peyton whipping up on some poor cornerback doesn't thrill me. But I liked the way Joseph Addai has kept his Super Bowl momentum going. I thought he was the MVP in that game, and if I were voting for one Thursday night, he'd share the honor with Keiaho. Tony Dungy always said that Edgerrin James was the glue that held the offense together, which I took to mean the guy who kept the sticks moving when Peyton was hitting a rocky patch. Now Addai has taken over that role. I don't want to say he's better than Edge was, but he's a lot younger.
Overall, an impressive performance. The offense struggled a bit in the first half, the defense took over. That's what the really good teams, do.