Everyone can exhale: After the beatdown that the defense received in Week 1 and the way the offensive line allowed the Texans' defense to get to Peyton Manning against Houston, it was a relief to see the Colts as the ones leading the way to the wood shed.
The opening loss left more questions than answers and Indianapolis answered most of those questions in Week 2. The defense vindicated themselves, the offense displayed balance in their playcalling and something other than ineptitude in the running game, and the Colts showed the country how well they play with a lead.
But, it's too early to breathe easy:
Mathis and Freeney were the only ones generating any pressure and it would be wrong to say that Fili Moala made a big play with his fumble recovery for a touchdown. He was simply in the right place at the right time.
The best defense proved to be a good offense, but the Colts will — and already have — played teams with better defenses and on the road. The best defense will, at some point in the season, need to be a good defense, which is something Indianapolis thought they already had coming into the season.
Special teams has a major issue in that Indianapolis still doesn't have an acceptable return man on kickoffs and punts. Clint Session's injury could linger and the cornerbacks are still inexperienced and will have lapses — as they did on both touchdown passes by Eli Manning.
Just as there wasn't cause for total panic after Week 1, there shouldn't be complete elation in Week 2. One of the keys to the Colts success this century has been their consistency, their calm, and their perspective. They need to maintain those attributes as they head towards another stiff road challenge in Denver in Week 3.
Indianapolis has found a suitable replacement for Bob Sanders: But it's not Melvin Bullitt, it's Antoine Bethea. Bethea was all over the field on Sunday night and was involved in every big play in the game and none of the bad plays in the game. He was covering Steve Smith when the ball bounced out of Smith's hands and into Jerraud Powers' hands. He recorded six tackles and had a quarterback hit.
He tackled Brandon Jacobs, taking the correct angle and attacking the correct part of Jacobs' body on that critical play in the third quarter, which led to Jacobs getting yelled at, then tossing his helmet into the stands. Chris Collinsworth mentioned that the Colts don't have anyone that plays like Sanders on their defense now.
It could be that Bethea, while not as explosive or disruptive as Sanders, is a better option than Sanders, considering that Bethea has started every game for Indianapolis the past two seasons. With Bullitt and Bethea, they have a much more reliable, stable set of safeties. As much as it would hurt to part ways with Sanders at the end of the season, that's probably their best option.
Speaking of Jacobs... If players can be suspended for exercising poor judgment off the field — DUIs, punching people in strip clubs, civil suits — then Jacobs should be suspended for exercising poor judgment on the field.
A helmet isn't a cup of Gatorade or a mouthguard, it is a heavy, solid piece of material. The NFL fines players that use their helmets as weapons against other players in full pads on the field, so it should fine and suspend Jacobs for endangering fans — and other players — by throwing his helmet.
Regardless of whether or not it was an accident or in the heat of the moment — punching people in strip clubs and DUIs are hardly pre-meditated acts, either — the fans are the reason the NFL exists and makes several billions of dollars per year. The Giants will most likely attempt to diffuse the situation by suspending or trading Jacobs — or both — but some kind of punishment in the form of fine and suspension should come from the Park Avenue offices.
A balanced offense is a potent offense:The Colts don't need to run for 250 yards per game. They don't even need to rush for 161 yards per game, as they did on Sunday night. They just need enough balance on offense that they can keep the defense off balance and dictate the flow of the game to the defense.
Peyton Manning is never comfortable when he's taking what the defense gives him. He's much happier when he is exploiting flaws that he sees in the defense. Indianapolis was able to run the ball early, which set up play action, which kept the Giants in their dime defense, which allowed the Colts to run the ball effectively late and close out the game.
With a balanced attack, they tend to score more points, possess the ball longer, and put more pressure on the opposing team's offense, which makes it easier on the defense. Indianapolis played a very tight game on Sunday night and will need more performances like that if they are to win 12 games again this year, since that's primarily how they've won 12 games a year for so long.
The kicking game is solid: Vinatieri didn't make things interesting and nailed both his attempts right down the middle. Pat McAfee's punts were slightly erratic in terms of distance, but all had great hang time and placement. He continues to impress on kickoffs. This was a very solid game on all fronts. Now if only the Colts would sign a kick returner.
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