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In 2011, Let’s Keep Our Leads

If there’s one thing that the Colts do poorly (And sadly, there’s more than one.  I’m looking at you special teams!), it’s maintaining a lead.  I’ve had many conversations about this with my brother and we believe that the inherent problem lies in a coaching shift once the Colts go up by about two touchdowns.

This should have never happened...

In countless games, I’ve seen the Colts get a good lead going into the 2nd half or the 4th quarter, but then their entire offense completely changes.  Our beloved “run-n-gun” offense with the league’s best quarterback (arguably best of all time) and a slew of the league’s best receivers and tight ends becomes this “safety first” bunch of pansies that just try to run the clock out.  You know what, if the Colts are up by three touchdowns with four minutes in the game left, fine, this is a great tactic.  But we see this all the time beginning as early the 3rd quarter where Indy get something like a 12-point lead and then goes into cruise control.  That’s why I actually like seeing Indy play from behind in the 4th, because they take the gloves off and go for broke.

The worst example of this is Super Bowl XLIV where the Colts were actually winning until about 6 minutes left in the game.  But starting when our boys went 3-and-out deep in their own territory at the end of the 2nd quarter, it felt like the Saints had all the momentum and were winning the whole time (Sidenote: I’m convinced that if we hadn’t gone 3-and-out there and had picked up even one 1st down, it would have changed the whole game and the Colts would have won their 2ndSuper Bowl that night.).  For some reason, Jim Caldwell stops playing to win once he is winning.

You will never see Bill Belichick do this.  Now, I have no love for Captain Cutoff Sweatshirt, but I do like his coaching philosophy of doing everything he can to make sure his team keeps the lead (I loved his decision during the famous 4th and 2 in 2009, but that’s for different reasons!).  I know what you’re thinking, “But Belichick runs up the score.” I agree, and I don’t condone that, but I do think ensuring a victory by taking a 3-touchdown lead with six or less minutes is sound coaching (it’s just when we run that up to 5 or 6 TDs with our starter that it gets out of hand).

I want to see this for a full 60 minutes, not 45-52 minutes.

All I’m saying is that I hope the Indianapolis Colts stop letting off the gas this season and play every game all the way through with their proven offense.  When they are earnestly trying to score, very few defenses can prevent that.

So Jim Caldwell, please listen to me, there’s no shame in ensuring a victory by continuing to score touchdowns when you have the lead in the 4thquarter, even if you are up by 14 points.  We get into trouble when just trying to run down the clock and the Colts don’t have the type of defense that consistently shuts down other teams to allow us that kind of game plan.  So let’s keep the pedal-to-the-medal and do what the Colts do best all the way through 60 minutes: have Peyton Manning score touchdowns.

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