Dead Cat Out Of Bounces

AnvilIF YOU TUNED into last night’s Monday Night Football game at around 10 p.m., you were treated to a pretty good game! A competently played game! Sure, it was between a four-win team and a three-win team, but the moments of competent, watchable football have been far too fleeting for these Colts. Sadly, so have the wins, as Indy backed up a soul-crushing loss to the Eagles with another heartbreaker, this time to a far less potent team from the Keystone State as the Colts fell to the Steelers 24-17.There’s a lot to get to with this one, Nate, including that messy game-ending sequence (Three timeouts! You can’t take ’em home with you!). That was probably the first time of The Jeff Saturday Era where they obviously missed having a coach with coaching experience … or even a teenager who has played Madden before. I don’t want to be mean, but I feel like your high-schooler could have handled that end-game sequence better.MILLER: Here’s my thought: Matt Ryan looks like he’s slogging through the space-time continuum anytime he runs. So there’s that. Everything slows down once he oozes out of the pocket. EVERYTHING. In those endless eons after he’s decided to tuck the ball and “run,” the Colts, as an offense, are moving forward, yes—but only in the technical sense. Only in the sense that doesn’t really matter. Because at that same moment, as Matt Ryan is “running,” the Colts as a franchise, are regressing tremendously. One gangly step forward, 19 years backward. It was the dolly zoom effect in real life, and I think it short-circuited Saturday’s brain. It did mine.SCHULTZ: A short-circuited brain has to be the reason because Saturday’s rationale makes no sense to me. Colts snapped the ball at the 1:00 mark at the 40-yard line. Ryan scrambles for 15ish yards and the clock is running at :40. You have all three timeouts in your pocket, facing a critical 3rd and 3, and are still almost 30 yards away from the end zone. That’s an auto timeout. AUTOMATIC. Saturday said after the game that they already had the play ready to go and he didn’t feel “time was of the essence” but, uh, time was of the essence! His biggest mistake was trusting an offense that has had trouble executing all season long to execute—while scrambling to get set—in the biggest spot in the game, on the fly. Pittsburgh knew it was a run the entire way and they easily stuffed Taylor at the line of scrimmage. Yes, the Colts still had a shot on 4th and short, but that sequence is where the game was lost. If Jim Irsay is going to arrogantly going to brush off criticisms for his head coach’s lack of experience then his head coach can’t proceed to do that *gestures wildly* in a critical primetime game in his first weeks on the job.MILLER: The Colts are trash, Derek, and us pretending that they’re not is not helping anything. This franchise is lost, and they will continue to be until they find a quarterback. If my eyes were correct (and they’re probably not!), the Steelers seem to have parlayed fat Ben Roethlisberger into skinny, cannon-armed Rex Grossman; this Pickett chap likes firing Howitzers all over the yard with stunning accuracy and zip. And they have a cool receiver to catch those passes too!! God, that looks fun. So jealous. No wonder 74 percent of Pittsburgh residents traveled here to watch them. SCHULTZ: The pretending is over; you’re exactly right. For all of their issues, this team was 3-2-1 through the first third of the season, but they’ve run out of opponents willing to hand them games. The death rattle in Vegas is the Colts’ only win since mid-October (1-5) and they’ve lost three times in that stretch where they held fourth-quarter leads at home, twice in the final 90 seconds. While it was obvious this was not a good football team by Week 2 (thanks, Houston and Jacksonville!), you still had hope/could pretend that perhaps they could churn out a Wild Card season in an NFL season filled with extreme mediocrity, but that hope has gone now. At 4-7-1, 2022 is over and it’s hard to make sense of what 2023 will be at this moment, with a new quarterback (has to be), a new head coach (hopefully), and new general manager (pretty please?) all likely on the horizon.It might get ugly Sunday night against a legit championship contender in Dallas, where the on-the-ropes Colts feel like Homer Simpson facing Dredrick Tatum, but it’s officially Draft Position Season. Ignore the on-field stuff this season and lean into it!