Game 10: Jags-Colts, .500 Edition


Hey there, Colts fans. I’m Nate Miller, the Carson-Wentz-shovel-pass of football analysts. That there is Indianapolis Monthly editor-in-chief Michael Rubino, and over there is noted friend-of-Reggie-Wayne Derek Schultz. The three of us are burdened with the unfortunate task of discussing yesterday’s 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, which went from F–KING AROUND grandly and audaciously in the beginning … to very quickly FINDING OUT soon thereafter. The only reason the Colts ever stopped finding out was because the game ended.

A win is a win, I suppose, even the ugly ones. Especially the ugly ones. But that was no mere “ugly win.” That was considerably worse. That was the football equivalent of that janky-ass building at 102nd and Meridian—the yellow and mauve and checkered-flag one that looks like how my fourth-grader would draw the Greek Parthenon from memory. That was a next-level hideous win, is what I’m saying—almost to the point where it hardly felt like a win at all. Derek—you know football stuff, kind of! Tell me I’m overreacting!

SCHULTZ: First off, it’s *best friend* of Reggie Wayne. Secondly, the Colts won! 102nd-and-Meridian, the-morning-after-eating-half-a-Crave-Case-at-White-Castle ugly, sure! But, in this NFL Bizarro World, where the Jets can beat the Titans (It happened! Look it up!) and Washington Stupid Names can beat Brady & the Bucs, I’m fine with just winning. No, the Colts haven’t beaten anyone with a pulse, but they’re also undefeated against clinically dead teams. That has to count for something, right? 5-5 might not be where most wanted to be, but considering the start of this season, the fact we’re nearing Thanksgiving and it’s not over should be considered a good thing. What’s Michael think about all of this? We just plundered all his booty the last couple of weeks, so I’m shocked he’s even agreed to come back on these with us.

RUBINO: I’ve never said this before to another person, but I appreciate you guys plundering the booty. Fortunately, I have a bit left that I’m saving to spend on a NFT of Urban Meyer at the very moment the camera caught him staring into a pit of despair after Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed combined on a blocked punt for a touchdown for the Colts first score. He just looked so sad and lost. And because I’m a simple, petty man-boy, that made me very happy. Otherwise, this game was pretty meh and way closer than it needed to be.

MILLER: I’m not interested in discussing anything beyond Michael Badgley’s FG to go up 20 to 6. There are certainly very important, capital-R Reasons for why the Colts did what they did thereafter, and the professional football knowers of this town will certainly have yelled them into your facehole by now. Not me. Not interested. I’ve already deleted those final 3.2 hours of the game from my cerebral hard drive. No need to save for later, brain! Will not be reliving or thinking about it ever again.

Instead, I am focusing on yesterday’s good, and one of the most obvious goods is this: Jonathan Taylor continues to become the new Edgerrin James, not (yet) in terms of production, mind you, but rather in terms of blazing, straight-line coolness—the kind that is hard to define, harder to miss, and that the Colts haven’t had since James left.

They are two entirely different flavors of cool, Taylor and James. No mistaking that. One is for everyone. One’s not. One tastes like Harvard, the other a high-stakes dice game in the Immokalee moonlight. In the end, though, both have been the homerun-hitting halfbacks every team dreams of. “Game-wreckers,” as they’re known in Pagano-ese. “Ballers,” as they’re known everywhere else. Point being, we need to enjoy his brilliance before he gets, like, Meniere’s Disease in his kneecap and has to sign with Seattle or wherever, per his destiny as this city’s newly crowned Sports Star. Our Newladipo, I suppose. Time’s a’ tickin’.

SCHULTZ: Newladipo! I’m definitely stealing that.

RUBINO: Pretty feathery. Let’s just hope the Newladipo sticks around longer than the Oladipo.

MILLER: And now that I mention it, we need to enjoy this entire team, too. Because really, NOBODY saw anything but doom after that dismal 0-and-¯\_(ツ)_/¯ start to the season. We are living our best hobo-fan life with the greatest six words here in the NFL abyss of mediocrity: not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs! Not yet, at least. Everything’s coming up Kwity for this team, more or less! (You know, when you totally ignore all the terrible stuff.)

SCHULTZ: Nobody? I said in this Special Recap Space just a month ago that I thought a run was totally possible! I had them at 6-4 instead of 5-5, but still kinda-ish right! Speaking of the playoffs, you want to feel old? We’re like a week away from the 20-year anniversary of the Jim Mora “PLAYOFFS???” rant. That clip is always the go-to joke whenever discussing a middling team’s postseason hopes, but while I won’t be so bold as to declare the Colts The Greatest 5-5 Team in NFL History (like the 4-5 version last week), I do still think this is/can be a playoff team. Wentz is who he is—a perfectly fine NFL quarterback—but this is the kind of year where “just fine!” might actually be good enough to get in and do some damage. A 5-2 finish with the Bills, Bucs, Patriots, and Cardinals left is a tough ask and the Colts need absolutely everything to go right, but as we saw today, that so rarely happens for this Meniere’s Diseased franchise.

RUBINO: Meniere’s Disease? Correct use of that term will get you into the Hypochondriac Hall of Fame. Also, I’ve just assigned Derek a blog post on The Oral History of Jim Mora’s Playoffs?!?!? Rant. I think everyone’s work here is done.

MILLER: And with that we are on to Buffalo, no worse for the wear, no better than .500, and with a playoff spot still feasible—or at the very least, not completely off the table just yet. It’s as good as we could have hoped for six weeks ago.