Monday, November 24, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 12 vs. Jaguars

Quick summary:

After getting steamrolled by an actual NFL team last week, the Colts get back on track thanks to the NFL schedule makers. Early on, it didn't look like they'd capitalize on this gift, but eventually, Jaguars happened.

Strong game by the offensive line, especially in the first half. Take this sentence and know it is sarcasm. The offensive line got pushed around a lot by the Jaguars' front seven. A lot of people have been saying "the Jags' front seven isn't that bad, it's just that their offense is horrible." I'm inclined to agree with that with the caveat that the Colts o-line was pretty ineffective to start the game.

Is this the end for #GRIFFNATION? Um...yeah...probably. The Colts signed Josh Cribbs and elevated Zurlon Tipton from the practice squad because they needed another running back. The odd man out was Griff Whalen, the spunky returner/bench warmer who was adrift in a sea of talent at wide receiver.

Will Cribbs actually have an impact? There's no doubt I saw flashes of the exciting Josh Cribbs I'm mostly familiar with in "Game Break" updates. His first kickoff return was electrifying. He even had a punt return touchdown, although that was negated by a penalty (just like any of the good returns by Whalen we've seen this year). I think Cribbs will be a good addition and won't be surprised if the Colts use him as a jet sweep option or something like that.

What's wrong with Ageless Reggie Wayne? Reggie hasn't been himself since that elbow injury. He's not catching balls and is struggling to get separation. There's just something "off" about him. He had nine targets but only three catches for a meaty 10 yards.

When being pursued by a pack of Jaguars, don't run 20 yards back. One thing Andre Luck has to learn is that some plays just aren't meant to be. Running backwards to get away from pass rushers seldom works. Protect the ball and take the sack instead of taking an even larger loss or coughing up the football.

It's a fumble! Fumble-rooski! Fumble-laya! Andrew Luck got rocked by the pass rush and fumbled twice, giving the Jaguars false hope that they could compete in this game (it was 6-3 at halftime, remember). Daniel "BOOM" Herron also had a costly fumble inside the red zone. The Colts had six (SIX!) fumbles during the game and lost three of them.

Protect the franchise. Luck was sacked five times in the first half after an embarrassing performance by the offensive line. Priority No. 1 has to be protecting Luck, and the Colts failed miserably at that in a head-scratching first half. They were better in the second half--when A.Q. "The Lost Lineman" Shipley came into the game for Hugh Thornton.

T.Y. "Big Daddy" Hilton. I couldn't mention the game without mentioning Hilton, who got loose for a 73-yard touchdown. He had 122 yards receiving and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. It was all, of course, for his newborn daughter, born just a few hours before the game. And that postgame interview...

BOOM! Herron was effective in his most significant action of the year. The thing I notice about him is that he runs hard...really hard. The other thing I noticed? He put the ball on the turf twice, losing one of them. Can't happen.

Richardson Report. Thirteen carries, 42 yards, a meaty 3.2 average. He did get loose for a 12-yard run and also scored a touchdown with some tough running at the goal line. Still, as always, it's just not good enough.

Solid defensive effort. After getting roughed up last week, the defensive unit came through with a dominant effort. However, there's a huge difference between the Patriots' offense and the Jaguars' "offense," so you gotta grade on a curve. I'll give them credit for creating some turnovers and never letting Jacksonville get into the end zone.

"The Jaguars got five downs on one set of downs!" No, they didn't--it just felt like it. The Colts (in a baffling maneuver) called a timeout on third down, negating a really nice play from Vontae Davis on the much larger Marcedes Lewis. The Colts still managed to stop Jacksonville from scoring a TD.

"Colby" Fleener. The Colts tight end was repeatedly called "Colby" during the broadcast. Darius Butler was also called by the wrong first name (Dante? I can't remember exactly) a couple times.

"And who says Andrew Luck can't run?" This was another gem from our crack team of game experts. I'll admit that Luck isn't a running quarterback, but he is a quarterback who can run. He ended up with eight carries for 49 yards.

Vontae's interception. I'll give a lot of credit to the Colts cornerback for jumping in front of a Blake Bortles pass at a key moment. The Colts had just turned the ball over again, and Davis bailed them out. Since Indy had so much trouble scoring, I really wished he'd been able to return it all the way. The 42-yard return was good enough, though.

Money money money money...Vinny! This guy's been so good. He's hit 31 field goals in a row.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 11 vs. Evil

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This week's Blue View took several days to write because the author hates the New England Patriots and couldn't bear the thought of writing about this week's terrible game.

Quick summary:

The Colts prove they can't hang with the big boys, putting together an embarrassing effort in front of a national TV audience while Hoodie, Gronk, and Tom Terrific snicker in amusement. Well, Gronk and Tom Terrific snicker. Hoodie just...Hoodies.

But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the running game? Awful, thank you very much. I'm embarrassed the Colts even attempted to run the ball this week. You wanna keep 'em honest? Admit to yourself that you can't run through a brick wall.

So, about that defense... Pass defense/lack of pass rush exposed by Pittsburgh; lack of run defense exposed by the Patriots. What have we learned lately? The Giants are barely a football team and there are many ways to beat the Colts.

T.Y. Hilton. Was he on the roster this week or did the Colts deactivate him? (checks stats) Apparently, he caught three passes. I guess the Patriots deactivated him.

I liked Jonas Gray at Notre Dame. That was a long time ago.

Genital cuff, Titanic, every Game of Thrones book narrated by Kathy Griffin, enema, Rocky 5, X-Men: The Last Stand, the last three seasons of Heroes. These are all better than watching New England win.

Coby Fleener. This guy had the game of his career. Seven catches, 144 yards. He was unstoppable. Fleener made all kinds of fine catches in this game, and the Patriots were perfectly happy with that.

Mike Adams showed up. He was the beneficiary of a couple terrible throws by Brady and ended up with two interceptions. The second one happened right before halftime and made Colts fans think Indy could get back in the game. It was a pleasant fiction.

But the awful play wasn't the worst of it. Ahmad Bradshaw broke a bone in his leg. Dwayne Allen suffered the dreaded "high ankle sprain." It was bad enough the Colts got taken behind the woodshed...but to lose two good players like that was worse than the game's outcome by far.

Throw it to Richardson? Look, I think we've all figured out that Trent Richardson isn't going to set the world on fire as a running back. I would like to see the Colts utilize him more as a pass catcher. It gets him out of the garbage at the line of scrimmage and gives him a chance to break some tackles in the open field. Just do it already.

Boom! We're going to see a lot of this guy because of Bradshaw's injury.

So that was fun. I did enjoy seeing Anthony Castonzo catch a TD pass. I'm pretending his celebration didn't happen. You should, too.

LaWorthless. Landry was back this week. Good to see that "run stopping safety" really paid off. Pop another pill, pal.

The Colts are the Patriots' little brother. I always say the Houston Texans are the Colts' little brother. It's fun and it makes me laugh. Right now, though, the Colts are the Patriots' little brother. It's sad and makes me cry.

Gray Matter. The Colts refused to tackle Jonas Gray against. Then again, it's hard to tackle a guy when you're getting Heisenberged every damn play.

Zero sacks. The Colts actually got some pressure on Brady a few times, but they never brought him down. An efficient passing game and a bruising running attack made sure the pass rush wasn't a factor. There were a couple of "almost got 'ims," which counted for absolutely nothing.

Shane Vereen. Every time I hear his name, all I can think about is "Shoeverine" from Conan O'Brien's run on NBC.

The hate is swelling in you now. Man, I detest these guys.

But is this the end of #GRIFFNATION? The Colts signed Joshua Cribbs this week. He was always an exciting player with Cleveland, but you do wonder why it's taken so long for him to catch on with another team...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How about an actual writing update?

I haven't blogged about writing in a long time.

The last non-Colts post I did was back in June.

There are a couple reasons for that. First of all, I'm a major Indianapolis Colts fan, and I'm using my author website as a place to write about the team. Is it the best venue for that? Probably not, but it's something I enjoy doing. Second of all, I worked myself into a writing slump over the summer.

I finished the first draft of THE EXCLUSIVE--a paranormal novel--back in April. After that, I got out of a writing routine as I tried to figure out what to write next.

I then visited an elementary classroom in June (see this post for more about that). After talking to my niece and nephew, I decided I'd like to write a book that would be age appropriate for them. I dusted off an old, old manuscript I wrote back in sixth grade and reworked THE ADVENTURES OF THE TAXIS into a middle grade novel.

So from April to July, writing was sporadic. You can sense as much from my Facebook updates and tweets. I got into a more steady routine until THE ADVENTURES OF THE TAXIS was finished. I was then faced with the question I hate most: what do I write next? I decided there was a book that had been waiting for a long, long time and needed to get written. It's a ridiculous idea for a novel, but I knew I could have some fun with it.

You know how people always ask writers where they get their ideas and writers don't know what to tell them? Well, occasionally we get our ideas from oddball Facebook comment threads from three years ago:

Yeah, that exchange was a thing that happened in a Facebook post in May 2011. Not long after that, I mocked up a cover and wrote a quick blog post about the idea.

I've held onto that idea for what feels like forever. I decided in late August/early September that I wanted to write that book. So I did! More than 66,000 words later, I have a first draft that tells the story of Russ "Studicus" Chambers, a male dancer at a dingy club called "Front and Caesar." He ends up going back in time on a mission to save Julius Caesar from being assassinated. Thus, the old tagline--"Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome. This is not it."--is no longer applicable.

It just so happened that the intrigue surrounding Julius Caesar's death made for a better backdrop and, I felt, a more familiar setting for readers. I read a few books on Caesar and Rome, and while my book is in no way historical, at least it's not all completely made up for a book about a time-traveling male stripper who introduces pole dancing to Ancient Rome.

So while I have a first draft, the book is nowhere near finished. I've already made dozens of notes and eliminated a character about a quarter of the way into the book so I could consolidate him with another character because they were becoming too similar. Another month or so, and I think I'll have a version of the book that would be fit for a beta reader.

I bet Facebook pals Greg (my brother) and Jane (a friend from school) didn't know we wrote a book together.

So, I'm reading through TIMEY DANCER and fixing it. Now I just have to figure out what to write next, which is my least favorite thing ever.

Before I fret about that too much, let's take a look at what I've done from a writing standpoint this year:

  • Revised and submitted III CRIMSONSTREAK
  • Finished and revised THAT'S NO MOON, a book that combines the wackiness of a Griswold family vacation with the heart of Galaxy Quest and the questionable theme park practices of Jurassic Park
  • Wrote a first draft of THE EXCLUSIVE, a novel about a hard-driving reporter who finally nails a slimeball politician but accidentally opens a gateway to hell in the process (oops)
  • Wrote a first draft of THE ADVENTURES OF THE TAXIS, a middle grade novel about a kid who goes on an exploration mission that takes an unfortunate turn because his uncle, the navigator, isn't very good with directions (the book may include funkadelic space slugs)
  • Wrote a first draft of TIMEY DANCER, discussed in all its scandalous detail above

So, that's it...a comprehensive update on what I've been writing lately.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 9 vs. Giants

Quick summary:

The Colts rebound from last week's lopsided loss against the Steelers to kick around Eli Manning and the Giants. Andrew Luck breaks 350 yards in relatively ho hum fashion.

Monday Night beatdown. The final score was in no way indicative of the game, as the Colts absolutely trounced the Giants in every aspect of football.

Crying Reggie. I think Chris Botti should perform the national anthem before every game Reggie Wayne plays. What a moment.

Ageless Reggie Wayne. While I'm on the subject of Mr. Wayne, I should say he looks fully recovered from the injury he suffered against the Bengals. He missed the Pittsburgh game because of it, and I say that's a good thing. He flashed some vintage Reggie on a 40-yard catch-and-run (I could watch the replay all day). He finished with 4 receptions for 70 yards. It may not sound like a lot, but Luck really spread the ball around this week.

Fleenered! Leave it to Coby Fleener to fake out the defense by kind of not/maybe not completing a catch and then running completely open as the Giants fail to throw their challenge flag on time. Great job by Luck and the offense to hustle it up and run a play while the Giants were still pleading for their coach to throw the challenge flag. This is why the flag should be kept in a fanny pack wrapped around your waist at all times. Indy really needed the score there, too, as they were dominating the Giants but had little to show for it.

I've got T.Y. Hilton in my fantasy arm wrestling league. How weird was that? Luck throws a ball up for grabs, and it looks like Antrel Rolle's all over it. Then T.Y. "Don't call me TD" Hilton rips it away from him. Hilton didn't light it up this week (3 catches, 71 yards), but you definitely felt his impact on the game.

Feed Moncrief! One catch, two yards.

Don't feed Moncrief! Previous point redacted.

Grudge match. I think Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw had this one circled on the calendar. Nicks (3 catches, 44 yards) made a couple big catches and Bradshaw ran hard. Bradshaw's stats (3 catches, 29 yards; 7 rushes, 50 yards) weren't eye-popping, but he was running angry out there. I kind of like him when he's angry.

The Andrew Luck Shooting Gallery. I'm not talking about his throwing acumen here. Luck was harassed all day for the second straight game, and an offensive line that provided solid protection earlier in the year struggled for the second game in a row. I know Luck holds onto the ball too long sometimes, but he still shouldn't be getting rocked every time the Colts call a pass play. Oh, by the way, he attempted 46 passes.

Solid defense. The Colts were embarrassed last week. Against the G-Men, they made it all better. For the most part, receivers didn't find much room in the secondary and running backs didn't find much daylight. The pass rush struggled at times again, but I saw some good things from Jonathan Newsome out there. He ended up with a couple sacks while Zach "Dancing Bear" Kerr notched one of his own.

A little off. When a guy throws for 354 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions, there's not much he did wrong during the game. Yet, those numbers could've been huge. Luck missed a few throws Monday night, especially early in the game. Just imagine how good this guy will be when he's consistently accurate for four quarters.

Was the secondary that good? Vontae Davis was definitely solid. No doubt about that. However, I'm trying to consider if I'm giving the secondary too much credit. The Giants' receivers were awful in this game, dropping pass after pass after pass. Is that good coverage or does Eli just have a bunch of Featherstones out there?

Sergio or LaRon? Do the Colts have a choice to make? What do you do with Sergio Brown when LaRon Landry comes back? Brown, who made his bones as a special teams stud, brings a lot more range to the position than Big Contract Landry. Yet Landry has that big contract. I think Indy might platoon these guys a little. Landry is (supposedly) stouter against the run while Brown is (in reality) a far superior cover safety.

The turnover battle. The Colts forced one turnover, and probably should've forced a couple more. On the other hand, they very nearly turned the ball over several times themselves, so I'll just count them lucky.

Weird stuff. There were some really strange plays last night, including the Fleener touchdown/challenge play and T.Y. Hilton's "give me the ball" TD reception. Don't forget that weird play where the ball bounced off the offensive line and back to Ahmad Bradshaw, who ended up getting a good run out of it. Strange things, man.

Bye, then Uggs. The Colts get to rest after compiling a 6-3 record so far. Since the Texans have Texaned themselves, Indy has a two-game lead in the AFC South. Next up: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Good luck covering Gronkowski, guys.