Monday, January 16, 2006

Was it Worth it?

Another season cut short for Manning and co.

At 13-0, the Indianapolis Colts were flying high on their way to Ford Field. In fact, the only other sports figure who looked smoother and more dominant this past season was Lance Armstrong. But nevermind that, football and biking have nothing to do with one another, right? Well, according to Tony Dungy, maybe they do…

Count me among those who were perplexed by Dungy and his staff’s choice to sit down most of their starters for the final two weeks of the regular season. Yes, the injury toll in this league is growing exponentially. No, the Colts did not need another win to lock up home field advantage throughout the Playoffs. And yes, through the first 14 weeks this team looked unstoppable. But let me ask you, was allowing Peyton Manning just 14 pass attempts, Edgerrin James a measly 13 carries (all in Week 16), and Marvin Harrison 2 catches over the final 2 weeks really worth risking a shot at the Super Bowl (especially when a month ago everyone aside from Larry Csonka was labeling them the next ’72 Dolphins)?

It’s funny though, before yesterday’s loss to the Steelers, no one really questioned Dungy’s choice to rest his starters, right? Maybe it’s because we all were banking on the fact that Indy would moonwalk into Detroit and finally get to fling that Belichickian monkey off their back. But now that the unthinkable has occurred, we’re all left wondering what if Dungy let the boys play against Seattle and ‘Zona in Weeks 16 and 17? Would they have still lost yesterday? Remember that before their match-up with Pitt, Manning, James, and Harrison hadn’t played in a full game together since December 18 vs. San Diego. With my calendar telling me that today is January 16th, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in calculus to figure out that four weeks is much too long to keep these guys out of rhythm. I mean, when I miss one week of work I come back feeling like I’m being ask to find the cure for cancer. Imagine what four weeks is like?

Now I know hindsight is 20-20, but these questions still need to be asked. If you were Dungy would you have made the same decision to sit your guys down? Honestly, I think I would have played my starters for three-quarters or more of those last two weeks to at least make sure they remained on the same page. Because we must not forget that football is no way like riding a bike—you can’t just take a four-week hiatus and then pick up where you left off. This is a game of timing and rhythm and without those two proficiencies, chances are you’re going to fall short of your goals. Unfortunately for Tony Dungy and the Colts, they had to find out the hard way.


At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Curtis said...

Brother, I gotta say. I really disagree with your viewpoint on the matter at hand. Dungy did what every coach does every year after they've clinched. Were the Colts on a roll? Yes. Did it blow out the flame on their season? I'm sure it contributed somewhat. Ultimately the Steelers had a great gameplan and a defense quick enough to offset the Colts equally explosive offensive attack-- that was the real reason they lost. Peyton didn't play a bad game; the receivers didn't come up short, the defense got off to a sluggish start, but gave up only 21 points. The Colts in all, played an okay game. They were simply beaten by a team that was up to the test.

While we can sit here on the side and question why Dungy sat all the players and extinguished the 13-0 momentum the Colts had, put yourself in his shoes. If anything, God forbid, happened to Edge, Marvin, Peyton, Sanders, June, Freeney, Wayne, the O-Line...anyone integral to the team's success while playing meaningless football, it's ALL ON DUNGY. It's his decision to take a risk that isn't necessary and the responsibility falls solely on him. You can't entirely blame Dungy for Peyton not bringing his A stuff, the defense not completely shutting down the Steelers, and the receivers not getting open.

Ultimately if you want to blame Dungy, blame his gameplan. Blame him for not having his team fully prepared. Blame him for not getting them revved up and using the "talk of a long lay-off letdown" as motivation enough to not allowing the Steelers to catch them on their heels. Blame him for not pulling out any tricks. Blame his fucking demeanor because the Colts could have used a kick in the ass.

If I were Dungy, I would have played my guys full tilt for the entire first half and then yanked them no matter the situation. I would have sat anyone even remotely injured. And I would have ensured my guys play that one half like they have every other half this season-- aggressive, tenacious, and dominant. The Colts played neither half like that on Sunday, and while you can definitely attribute a portion of that to their lack of rhythm, I think the amount of blame Dungy deserves is far deeper than that.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Well, I'm glad you left it the way you did Curtis Blow.

"The Colts played neither half like that on Sunday, and while you can definitely attribute a portion of that to their lack of rhythm, I think the amount of blame Dungy deserves is far deeper than that."

I couldn't agree more IF Dungy hadn't gone through the struggles of losing his son. Now sure, perhaps this was the plan all along--as soon as we lock up home field we're resting our starters no matter what. Okay, fine. But when the coach isn't there for two weeks and you waltz into Seattle and play Manning for a little over a quarter, how can we be sure he's staying focussed? It's not like these guys are the Patriots and they're used to winning. They have been the proverbial choke artists for the last 3 or 4 years now. Thus, if I were Dungy I would have went balls to the wall, gone 15-1, and headed into the Playoffs with a full head of steam. Looking back, risking the injury of one or two guys might have been worth it, wouldn't you say? The Pats only rested their starters against Miami in Week 17 because they were so banged up. On the contrary, no one touched Peyton Manning for the first 7 weeks of the season.

In my opinion, when you're that B team, the Red Sox of the early 00's, the Sacramento Kings of the late-90s, the Colts of the last 3-4 years, you don't take the risk of having your team lose focus and rhythm. You don't want to continually be known as that second best team all the time. When you have the chance to win it all, you take the risk of injury. That offense we saw on Sunday was hardly the one we watched at the end of November when they absolutely smoked Pittsburgh on Monday Night. I attribute that rust to that 4 week lay off Dungy allowed his team. He coached this team to near perfection through the first 15 weeks of the season. Why toy with that heading into the most important postseason of your life?

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Joe Mama said...

Thought this was an NBA page.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Joe Mama,
I feel I have enough knowledge of all four major sports to go ahead with this expansion. Plus, it will hopefully bring more readers to the site. Go tell your friends. Now. Right now.


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