TightEndaPalooza in Tennessee

Someone forgot to lock the back door! Tony Clifton is in the house with his whacky column about the Colts and their victory over Tennessee. Prepare to be entertained...

Well, it happened.

As a number of concerned Colts fans foretold, a meltdown of a secondary sounded alarm bells throughout the fan base of a team with great early-season defensive impressions.

Wuddup, Kansas City?! Sucks to be you!!

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the vaunted Colts defense, now in desperate need of a spiffy nickname, continued its dominating display in 2005. And this time, it could well have been led by the secondary.

Norm Chow -- obviously having nightmares from watching Colt D-linemen bludgeon opposing quarterbacks like Newfoundlanders on baby seals (it's a joke, PETA people!!) -- chose to protect Steve McNair and his bionically reconstructed chest cavity with, pretty much, the entire team. And in the process, he sacrificed much of the Titans passing attack.

Yes, this despite the pleadings of McNair to Chow, who wanted to take the risk in true "Warrior" fashion.

McNair (like Colonel Steve Austin) to Chow: "I need the receivers downfield! I need to take shots at the deep ball!"

Chow (in the role of Oscar Goldman) – "But Steve!" – whipping off his glasses – "it's too dangerous!"

So Chow opted for safety, and in this "pick your poison" situation, the football field turned into a veritable, TightEndaPalooza. It seemed, the only receivers on the pitch were Titans Kinney, Troupe, and some guy named Scaife.

In the oddly parallel universe of the Colts offense, tight ends Dallas Clark and Bryan Fletcher were likewise very prominent as Brandon Stokley pulled up a ringside seat for the festivities.

It worked great for the Colts, as Manning and Moore DID stick with the dink-and-dunk from the get-go, only taking timeout from it to burn Titan rookie Adam "I Smell Burnt Toast" Jones for a long, quick score to Reginald the Conqueror. What, you expected me to refer to him as, "PacMan"??? Negative, my friends. Until further notice, I feel that "I Smell Burnt Toast" is a much more suitable handle for the rook.

But back to the tight end festival. For the Colts, Clark is getting into the groove. And Bryan Fletcher looks more and more like Marcus Pollard reincarnate. They were solid vs the Titans. To think only a few short weeks ago I was suggesting we offer Fletcher as trade-bait for another linebacker. My bad!

Meanwhile the Titans passing game, which had everyone -- including a number of Nashville country and western stars (I could have swore I saw Garth Brooks chipping Freeney!) -- back in pass protection, did slow down the Colts' rush. But the Colt defensive backs covered the few Titans actually running routes like a delicious brown sugar glaze on a fine Christmas ham! [Note - I put this last descriptor in especially for the big men, Tarik Glenn and Corey Simon. Enjoy.]

Aside from the great coverage provided by the corners, watching Mike Doss and Bob Sanders whack the opposition with great gusto is becoming a personal favorite.

Doss has been administering frightening cranial blows since his return. And Sanders had two plays on Sunday that made me laugh out loud at the tremendous suffering they caused!

There was one where a Titan ball-carrier appeared to be breaking free through the middle. Suddenly, as he split two defenders, The Impaler arrived on the scene. The Titan, who had been zigging and zagging, dodging and darting with impressive speed, came to a very sudden and decisive STOP. He immediately dropped to the turf, appearing to be clutching his skull, as if to see if it was still in one piece. Thankfully, he wasn't injured, and his cranial structure appeared intact.

The other was the Sanders Power-Slam of Drew Bennett -- which would have made Hulk Hogan proud. The physical play of Colts defensive backs left Bennett with statistics you'd expect more out of Drew Barrymore than the lanky stud who torched Indianapolis repeatedly last year.

Memo to Bill Polian: If Sanders and Doss continue to tag-team opponents in this fashion, expect a call from Vince McMahon. If you think they're undersized for the WWE, two words: Midget wrestling. Still a fan favorite.

Actually, these guys may be vertically challenged for their positions, but like Freeney at defensive end, they're not undersized. They're fricking fire-hydrants, people! With tremendous wheels and a penchant for brutal on-field violence!!

Once again, the only thing I saw that baffled me was the Colts' use of the short-yardage set. Or what I like to call, "The No Yardage Set." The good news is that the coaches are trying this out in games that (thus far) the Colts seem to be controlling, and it hasn't come back to hurt them.

But I just don't see it ever working with the current personnel. Edgerrin's not the problem in short yardage, gang. It's everyone else. The line is great; Mungro's a great role-player. But neither is built/designed for short-yardage power-blocking. So they should keep the defense guessing, and work to its strengths. Perhaps the Colts are sticking with it now, to prepare for the future. Hopefully in the close games to come, this may set up teams as they fool ‘em with a 3-wide package or some such thing. We shall see.

Odd....but I have a strange feeling that the Colts coaching staff may NOT listen to all my instructions, and may actually try to run the team's play-calling without my input.


Outside of that, the offense got its roll on as they took what the defense gave them. They avoided the temptation to ASSUME they'd allow big, play-action bombs, and ate up the clock on long, scoring drives in true PAC-MAN fashion.

Things are coming together nicely on both sides of the ball. What is needed now is some luck -- particularly regarding injuries. The Pats are feeling it hard right now. And Cincinnati, who we have to look at as a playoff contender, just saw their first and second-string centers go down for perhaps an extended period of time.

Aside from the obvious (Peyton and Edge) perhaps the area where the Colts may be at most risk is offensive tackle. The D-line and secondary have shown that they have the depth to deal with adversity; hopefully we'll never have to find out how they'd fare if Glenn or Diem miss any time.

So enjoy another week, another win, and the good fortune of being Colts fans during these wondrous times.

Look well upon the victory. Miss nothing. For the battle is fought to be won. And it is THIS that happens to he who loses (Clifton points to a frightening image of John Teerlinck attaching Norm Chow's bloody scalp to his belt. Equally frightening is how the scalp is quickly lost to view, enveloped by Teerlinck's massive midriff, which spills over said belt like some sort of awful flesh-tsunami)!!!!!

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Another couple of milestones for Peyton and Marvin. Ho-hum, and Huzzah for us!

Good day!

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