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Credit to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated for writing, “Undoubtedly my biggest swing and miss of the entire season was predicting the Colts would finally slip out of the 12-win neighborhood into the nine-win range, thus missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001. That sure sounded edgy in August. It sounded brain-dead by September. And even worse by the time the Colts raced to a 14-0 record, not losing until after Christmas.”
Banks concluded by saying, “I do believe in the Colts. I do believe in the Colts. I do believe in the Colts. I do believe . . .”
Banks was far from alone in the offseason. It was somewhat trendy to pick the Colts to miss the playoffs, in part because people get tired of seeing the same team in the postseason every year, but mainly because they figure at some point the odds will catch up to the Colts.
When will the odds catch up? Someday, certainly, but likely not next year. Manning is still playing at a high level, and although it’s early, there’s very little indication they won’t be deeper and better at several key positions than they were this year. . . .
Speaking of disappointment, yes, Polian was disappointed in the play of the offensive line Sunday, and yes, he mentioned it on his weekly radio show last week. But his quote really has had wheels last week — perhaps too much so. When Polian on Tuesday said, “The offensive line, by our standards, did not have a good game,” he didn’t necessarily say it in a tone that was blaming that unit entirely for a loss. But in today’s one-quote, soundbite world, that’s the quote that has been played up. Polian actually spoke far longer and in more extensive detail about the failure to recover the onside kick at the start of the second half. . . . .
Also late last week, former NFL General Manager-turned-analyst Charley Casserly weighed in on CBSSports.com with offseason keys for the Colts, and outlined a few basics. He also wrote that, “From a psychological point of view, I don’t think much has to be done with the Colts. Their vets have been to the Super Bowl and this is a team that seems well-grounded and mature. I don’t believe the Super Bowl loss will cause them any problems. They are used to be being in the spotlight and being a team that teams target. “
That jibed with this column from Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravtiz, who closed the week by writing on Sunday that, “if the Colts’ past has shown us anything, it’s that this organization is ridiculously resilient, capable of remaking itself year after remarkable year. The fact that they’ve won 12 or more regular-season games seven years straight tells me they’re not only going to come back and do it an eighth time, but are worthy of being the Las Vegas favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl in Dallas. (Colts President Bill) Polian may misappropriate Shakespeare or show up to a league-required media briefing with all the enthusiasm of a Democrat at a Tea Party convention, but bottom line, is there anybody else you want setting the table for next season, especially when it appears all the old rules regarding the salary cap will fly out the window without a new collective bargaining agreement? Recent history says that Super Bowl-losing teams are often consigned to mediocrity the next season. Polian’s history, his Buffalo Bills history, says that his teams find ways to bounce back, having rebounded from three straight Super Bowl losses to reach the big game the next season.”
Don’t jump to conclusions that Kravitz is warming to Polian. This is just Kravitz being fairly spot on about the Colts’ recent history, and doing his usual good job of getting the right grasp on the right story. As the season approaches, the Colts’ ability to avoid that post-Super Bowl loss letdown is going to be a major story, and their ability to handle the disappointment is going to be a major theme next season.
Polian very much set the tone Friday, saying several times that the 2009 season is over, and that all that will matter in 2010 is 2010.
That’s the Colts’ early theme, and as good a place as any to start moving forward.
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MORE COLTS NEWS
DAILY DIGEST: On Tim Tebow, Ed Johnson and the offensive line. Here.
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: On predictability and MLB Gary Brackett. Here.
Caldwell: Nothing to be ashamed of. Here.
Saints 31, Colts 17. Here.
Saints used new twist on familiar formula. Here.
Reviewing the Bill Polian Radio Show . . .
* Part One: “We just didn’t execute.” Here.
* Part Two: Improvement needed. Here.
* Part Three: Dwight Freeney expected to play all along. Here.
* Part Four: MLB Gary Brackett wanted back. Here