Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Studicus Selects 2014

Once, long ago, I posted on the internet as Studicus, an in-joke nickname related to a skit from high school. When I first started blogging, I called my year-end entries "Studicus Selects." The tradition has continued since 2005...although I skipped 2006 for some unknown reason.

You'll find past entries here (scroll down for the 2014 picks):

Studicus Selects 2013
Studicus Selects 2012
Studicus Selects 2011
Studicus Selects 2010
Studicus Selects 2009
Studicus Selects 2008
Studicus Selects 2007
Studicus Selects 2005

The year Indiana Out-Hothed Hoth. We've had cold winters in Indiana. We've had snowy winters in Indiana. We've had mild winters in Indiana. We rarely, however, have winters in which you can't tell your home from Echo Base on Hoth. It was pure misery in 2014, with county travel restrictions all across the state and all the snow and ice you'd ever want to see in your life. I spent three days away from home in a hotel room close to work because of the weather.

I could've used a tauntaun (although it would've died because of the extreme cold) or a snowspeeder (although we were have trouble adapting them to the cold). I think I speak for everyone when I say it's something we don't want to see ever again. On the plus side, it spawned fun Facebook updates like this:

"Good to be home for the first time since early Sunday morning. Passed three tauntauns and four AT-AT walkers on the way back. Let me tell you, the turn lane to Echo Base was a MESS. Nearly rammed an Imperial probe droid."

Least effective good luck charm, NFL Playoffs category. I thought the horsehead hat would help the Indianapolis Colts against the New England Patriots. It didn't. I thought dusting off my old Colts Peyton Manning jersey would help the Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks. It didn't.

So this category is actually a push. They both stunk.

Least comfortable head decoration, Authors Fair category. I donned a Viking helmet for a few minutes at the Madison Authors Fair. It belonged to a cool author named Stu Thaman.

Best meeting with local chieftains, Iowa category. I made my first-ever trip to Iowa this year. It's the birthplace of my father-in-law and Anne was also born there. I got to see her grandparents and extended family. Iowa reminded me a lot of my hometown in Williamsburg, Ind. We saw a lot of gravel roads, farmland, small businesses, and small towns. Cell phone reception was predictably horrible.

Still, I had a great time seeing where my father-in-law came from. He needed back surgery this year, and this was the last big trip he was able to make before the surgery. I split driving duties with my brother-in-law, Tom.

Favorite international curling squad, Olympics category. The Olympics were back this year! I'm a sucker for the Winter Games. Curling remains my favorite sport to watch, although I'll sit through just about anything. My wife LOVED the skip of Norway's curling team. I thought he looked like a villain from an 80s action movie:
Biggest laugh, "intimidating Uncle Matt" category. My nephew Luke (and niece Elise) love playing "Monkey in the Middle" (when I was a kid, it was called keep-away, but whatever) when I visit. I laugh every time I think about a memorable encounter Luke and I had during a game over the summer. Here's a Facebook entry from June 7, 2014:
"Best part of the day: playing keep keep-away with my niece Elise and nephew Luke. While I was in the middle, I played some 'pressure D' on Luke and got right in his face. He couldn't throw around or over after a few seconds, he ran into the garage and closed the door. Smart kid."

Saddest passage, aquatic frog category. Sadly, our little frog died over the summer. Prince was part of our household for five years. He was a little aquatic frog. You wouldn't think a little pet like that would have much personality, but Prince had a ton of it. He swam to the edge of his tank and watched Colts football games with me (and sometimes movies). I think he was attracted to the flashing lights on the TV.

Anne took very good care of the little guy, but he was sick at the end and eventually passed away. He gave us a lot of good stories to tell, and I'll never forget him. Emptying out his tank and putting it away was one of the worst moments of the year, and our home feels like it's missing something without him.

Writing year in review. 2014 ended up being a very productive writing year. From an events standpoint, I went to my old elementary school to talk to a gifted and talented class about writing. The kids were very gracious. I also attended the Authors Fair in Madison and the Geek-A-Thon event at Hanover College. I probably need to do some more book signings!

From a writing perspective, I finished and submitted III Crimsonstreak, the third and final book in the Crimsonstreak series. I finished a book called That's No Moon, which is equal parts Galaxy Quest, Jurassic Park, and National Lampoon's Vacation with a big portion of Star Wars pop culture goodness thrown in. I finished the first draft of a book called The Exclusive, a paranormal suspense novel involving a hard-driving TV news reporter who accidentally unleashes the apocalypse. Over the summer, I wrote a middle grade science fiction book adapting a story I wrote in sixth grade called The Adventures of the Taxis. In the fall, I wrote a first draft of Timey Dancer, an idea I kicked around for a few years before writing (more on that below). In December, I began work on a sequel to an unpublished superhero book called The Franchise. The sequel's working title is The Franchise: Awakening.

Needless to say, it's been a busy, busy writing year. I need to submit more work, however. Query letters and rejections are the worst, but they're part of the deal.

Most ridiculous book idea, "It Came from Facebook" category. Timey Dancer is a book about a male exotic dancer named Russ "Studicus" Chambers who gets transported to Ancient Rome. He ends up having to perform for Julius Caesar and introduces pole dancing. It's a ridiculous idea that sprang from a Facebook exchange involving my brother, a friend, and me. The other inspiration was the great "Saturday Night Live" sketch featuring Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley.

Favorite movie, Marvel Cinematic Universe category. I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It's my favorite movie of the year--and it may be my favorite Marvel movie. You've got great characters, fantastic action sequences, thrilling spycraft, jarring conspiracies, and humor. The movie sent a ripple throughout the whole MCU, and helped make "Agents of SHIELD" must-watch TV. Captain America has always been among my favorite superheroes, and the movie did a phenomenal job of retaining his all-American image while he comes to grips with an ever-changing world.

Best purchase, so long cable category. We dumped AT&T Uverse service because we were sick of paying for TV. We bought a Mohu Leaf and a Roku Streaming Stick, and haven't looked back. The Leaf gives me all the Indianapolis channels while the Roku gives me access to Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services like VUDU and Target Ticket. By my calculations, we've saved $1,200 since April.

Best Christmas gift given, gray market movie category. My brothers-in-law Tom and Matt wanted the Star Wars movies without any digital enhancements or changes. I couldn't do it myself, but I found someone who'd already "despecialized" the movies. Going through some questionable gray markets, I found the movies and packaged them as the "Nothing Special Editions." I even presented them with a letter "from" George Lucas apologizing for changing Star Wars.

"You've won Christmas," Tom said after getting the gift.

I also threw in a copy for my brother.

Best Christmas gift received, childhood nostalgia category. My brother and his family bought me the Intellivision Flashback. It's a miniature "plug and play" Intellivision gaming console and it's fantastic.

The box boasts that it contains 61 games, and it certainly does. I played World Championship Baseball the other night, and it's pretty much spot-on. The console even comes with overlays for the controllers! I was so pumped about it.

Longest wait from shortest trailer, movie category. I was partially let down and partially elated when the teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. The elation eventually won out over the disappointment, though it would've been great to see Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewie in there.

A tribute to Grandma Adams. We said goodbye to Grandma Adams this year. She was 89 years old, and there will never be another like her.

Grandma was never shy about giving her opinion on something. She had, as my mom liked to say, "no filter." She attended countless baseball and basketball games where she always calmly gave her opinions to the umpires and referees. One of my fondest memories is when she took my brother and I to see Transformers: The Movie and had no idea what to do with us when we started bawling over the death of Optimus Prime. I don't think she ever took us to another movie.

Grandma made the best fried potatoes and hamburgers I'll ever eat. When you went to visit her, food was mandatory. It didn't matter if you'd just eaten or were on a diet, Grandma would whip up a hamburger and fried potatoes and insist you have a Coke with it. She loved cowboy movies, old mystery shows, and Bill O'Reilly. When it came to sports, she seldom missed an Indiana Hoosiers game and kept an eye on the Cincinnati Reds. It there was a ballgame on TV, she was probably watching it.

I fondly remember Christmas Eve at Grandma's house on the old farm. I am, in fact, wearing a fleece jacket she bought me for Christmas years ago as I write this. Even though she was on a fixed income for years, she made sure everyone had some presents under the tree. I missed the McDonald's gift certificates she bought almost every year. You don't realize how grateful you are for those things until they're gone.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 17 vs. Titans

Quick summary:

The Colts wrap up their AFC South Sucks Tour by beating up on the Tennessee Titans.

Week 5 of the preseason. This game meant nothing for the Colts. Sure, there were some records to chase, but the Colts could've sat the starters for four quarters and lost, and it wouldn't have changed their playoff position one bit. As a result, we were treated to a hefty dose of Matt Hasselbeck, Zurlon Tipton, and Hakeem Nicks in the second half.

Andrew Luck broke a record. Luck set a new franchise mark for passing yards in a season, dethroning Colts legend Peyton Manning.

And Reggie Wayne was part of history. It doesn't get much more vintage Reggie Wayne than the catch No. 87 made to secure Lucks' franchise mark. Wayne showed the grace, athleticism, and hands we've come to expect from him. Too bad he couldn't make it into the endzone. Someone made a crack that Reggie "couldn't outrun Father Time." It's a good enough joke, but Reggie was never a breakaway speed guy. He made his bones with great footwork, precision routes, and incredible hands. Let's hope that groin strain isn't anything major.

Jonathan Newsome leads the team in sacks. The rookie from Ball State was touted as an undersized speed rusher who would probably have minimal impact on the team. He's really come on in the latter half of the season. Since Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden both kind of like to pull disappearing acts from week to week, Newsome's been a nice surprise as a pass rusher. Indy's rush unit still isn't very effective, however.

Adam Vinatieri is human. He missed a 46-yard field goal, ending his consecutive FG streak. I say better to break it now than have it happen in the playoffs, if it had to happen at all. Vinny's job is still safe.

Jack Doyle! Jack Doyle! He's the tight end no one ever talks about. Doyle does the dirty work, and this week he had four catches for 21 yards and a touchdown. I like it when the role players--the dirty work guys--get the chance to shine.

Josh Cribbs still has it. Cribbs took a kickoff return 76 yards before he was stopped. He made some great cuts, showed tremendous vision, and even flashed some strength while a Titans defender tried to bring him down. Of course, Cribbs also let the Titans have a 79-yard punt when he watched a ball bounce and bounce and bounce until it was a touchback. You don't see many 59-yard net punts involving a touchback, that's for sure.

A.Q. Shipley sighting! Shipley was on the offensive line, which saw a reshuffled starting unit for the tenth time this season. Jack Mewhort started at right guard for Indy. Of course, Shipley suffered an injury and had to leave the game. Hugh Thornton also left with an injury, extending the Colts' misery along the offensive line. Gosder Cherilus and Joe Reitz are supposed to come back for next week's game, so there's that.

Coby Fleener. I love to poke fun at Fleener. Heck, I expected him to totally drop that wide open TD pass from Luck. To his credit, he didn't. Fleener's put together a really nice season and turned out to be a pretty good redzone option. His numbers are good: 51 catches, 771 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He added a nice catch from Hasselbeck and finished with two touchdowns. The tight ends, in fact, were responsible for all three of the Colts' touchdowns this week.

Theft by Vontae Davis! The Pro Bowl corner simply took the ball away from Titans running back Bishop Sankey in one of the best plays of the year.

Hustle matters. Look, Mike Adams totally got blasted by Shonn Greene. It was one of those "runaway freight train" plays. I'm sure Adams will enjoy seeing it on film. But there was something about that play that I loved--Greg Toler hustled his butt off and stopped Greene from getting into the endzone. The Titans ended up settling for a field goal on the drive. Hustle matters, folks, even in meaningless games.

The AFC South sucks. The Colts went 6-0 in the division this year, beating up on the mighty Titans, Jaguars, and Texans. Only Houston managed a winning record at 9-7. Statistically, it wasn't the worst division in football thanks to the inept NFC South, where every team had a losing record. You'd be hard-pressed to find two teams more inept than Jacksonville and Tennessee, however.

Who you taking at No. 2, Tennessee? The Titans will have the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. Will they go after one of the high-profile quarterbacks? Will they trade the pick instead of being forced to select that knucklehead from Florida State? Intrigue, people. Intrigue.

Who Dey! Who Dey! Who Dey say gonna host dem Bengals?! Since the Bengals disappointed their fans on Sunday Night Football by letting the Pittsburgh Steelers win the AFC North, they get to come to Lucas Oil Stadium to play the Colts. Indy dominated the Bengals during a 27-0 win back in October when they were actually playing good football. The Bengals were without all-world wide receiver A.J. Green in that game--and the A.J. Green Watch is in full effect for Sunday after he suffered a concussion against the Steelers.

No turnovers. After a rash of turnover-plagued performances, the Colts didn't yield the ball once this week. They came pretty close in the first quarter, though, when Andrew Luck had one of his signature "I'll just keep this play alive forever and cough up the ball" moments. Hugh Thornton recovered that one, fortunately.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 16 vs. Cowboys

Quick summary:

An entire football team is lost. Will we ever find them? Will they ever find themselves?

That escalated quickly. First it was 7-0. Then 14-0. Then 21-0. Then 28-0. And so on. Finally, the Colts scored a meaningless touchdown to make it 42-7.

Drop it like it's Allen. Dwayne Allen. What the heck? He wasn't the only one, of course. No one could catch the ball.

Let's gamble! Perhaps the Colts coaching staff foresaw the calamity that was about to befall the football team. Perhaps Pat McAfee foresaw it. Either way, the decision to run a fake punt on their own 19-yard line didn't pay off. Dewey McDonald--of course his name is Dewey--couldn't catch the ball despite being Coby Fleener wide open. The dropped pass turned into an immediate touchdown, and the game was over. We just had to slog through three more quarters of it.

Taunting! Next time you lay a guy out and decide it's time to stand over him in intimidating fashion and yell something about his mother, don't do it. I don't think the Colts would've magically won this game if Jerrell Freeman's penalty hadn't happened and the Cowboys had to punt, but I'll always wonder.

Greg in-Tolerable. He had a rough game, didn't he? Yikes. Of course, no one had a good game, so...

Matt Hasselbeck had more yards than Andrew Luck. Think about that for a second. At least the coaching staff decided to pull Luck. There was no reason for him to be in the game because the Colts weren't coming back.

How bad was the game? Brandon Weeden threw a 43-yard touchdown pass. Think about that.

But it was an important one yard. The Colts carried ten times for one total yard. Boom Herron carried seven times for three yards, Trent Richardson carried twice for one yard, and Zurlon Tipton carried one time for minus-three yards. Glad Indy really got the ground game going this week.

So, why is he still in the game? You can direct this one at DeMarco Murray, Reggie Wayne, Tony Romo, and any other player who's been hurt and had no business being in a lopsided game. I know Murray is Dallas' bell cow, but the guy had hand surgery this week and still carried 22 times. I'm not upset that Dallas kept in the "A" team for a long time...but I'd be livid if I were a Cowboys fan. This was a perfect opportunity to let him rest up for the entire half and let the other guys get the carries.

Mysteries of the Offensive Line. So, Khaled Holmes played center. Everyone saw that coming, right? And then Xavier Nixon was in for the injured Gosder Cherilous and was absolutely awful. Jonotthan Harrison was active but didn't play on the o-line. Same thing with A.Q. Shipley. Your starting group: Anthony Castonzo at LT, Jack Mewhort at LG, Khaled Holmes at C, Lance Louis at RG, and Xavier Nixon at RT. It wasn't good. This was the ninth different starting line for the Colts this season. Consistency!

"It was bad. A lot of bad. Not much good, if any." That's Andrew Luck after the game. I considered just posting a GIF of the Death Star exploding instead of writing a full post this week. I'll let that supplement my ramblings instead:

Remember in like Week 6 when everybody said the Cowboys were like the best team in the NFL? The Colts must've remembered, because they certainly played like they were afraid of them.

More Jack Doyle! Seriously. Give me more! Just...don't let him catch a pass in the endzone because he'll drop it.

Josh Cribbs on offense. So, that happened late in the game. Maybe he should've replaced Reggie Wayne earlier? Just a thought.

The Colts have beaten three teams with winning records! The Bengals, the Ravens, and...the Texans. They've lost (mostly in lopsided fashion) to any good team they've played, and have been outscored in their last three losses (Pittsburgh, New England, and Dallas) by a combined margin of 135-61. Your AFC South Champions are poised for a deep postseason run, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 15 vs. Texans

Quick summary:

If the Texans had a quarterback, the Colts would've lost.

Let's just hand out points like they're candy. Andrew Luck and the Colts gave another opponent an easy six points after another interception return. I guess the good news is that the Colts cut their turnovers in half this week.

Not at their best. Indy won another game in which the team certainly wasn't at its best. We saw missed throws, turnovers, shoddy protection, etc. You know, basically all of the things that annoy me about this particular team.

I didn't know Hakeem Nicks still played for the Colts! Nicks hasn't contributed much to the team this year, but he did have a nice catch and run for a touchdown. Considering the Colts scored only 17 points this week, it was much needed.

Reggie bein' Reggie. Reggie Wayne did have a fumble, but at least he seemed more like himself this week. He caught four passes on five targets, and while the yardage wasn't anything to brag about, the fact that he was able to make Reggie-like catches was heartening. I still think the Colts should consider getting him some rest.

And for dessert, I'll have two Double Quarter-Pounders. With cheese. The announcers basically suggested this week that Trent Richardson "ran heavy" and "looked heavy." So, um, basically, Trent Richardson is fat, carrying an "extra six or seven pounds," in Rich Gannon's estimation. Gannon went on an extended rant--er, analysis--that mentioned Eddie Lacy and Le'Veon Bell and how some backs couldn't carry extra weight.

Richardson's YPC was higher than Andrew Luck's! This basically never happens.

Lowering the Boom. I continue to like what I see from Boom Herron. He's not the biggest guy out there, but he's got some explosion and elusiveness. He was fantastic on the Colts' final scoring drive. For the game, he carried 11 times for 60 yards.

Really stuffing the stat sheet, guys. Andrew Luck passed for 187 yards this week. T.Y. Hilton led Colts receivers with 50 yards. The Texans actually outgained Indy in terms of total yards and also held the edge in time of possession. Despite this, the Colts won the game and clinched the AFC South.

Just the Texans bein' the Texans, Part 1. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled early in the game and broke his left leg. The Texans brought in rookie quarterback Tom Savage, who completed his first pass before having a long day that included handing off to a running back who wasn't there and then being caught in the "OMG these guys are going to kill me" position as Colts defenders closed in.

Just the Texans bein' the Texans, Part 2. After catching a break by forcing a Reggie Wayne fumble, the Texans turned the ball right back over as Savage and Arian Foster botched the handoff. It was the easiest fumble recovery of Bjoern "I Bring in Da Good Stuff, Coach" Werner's career. There is no play more Texansy than that.

Speaking of Bjoern... He didn't have the game of his career or anything, and it was a depleted Texans team, but it felt like Werner was around the ball a lot this game. After several quiet games, it was good to see.

Holding is a dangerous affliction that makes no friend of Colt or Texan. The Colts had a phenomenal TD catch by Donte Moncrief wiped out because Antony Castonzo was holding on for dear life against J.J. Watt. Meantime, the Texans had a 25-yard TD run by Arian Foster wiped out because of a holding penalty by DeVier Posey. Both holding penalties were of the "that's impossible for the officials to miss" variety.

Third and what the heck was that? The Colts were hoping to catch the Texans off guard on a third and goal play by calling a bootleg for Luck. Problem is, it didn't fool anyone. I would've preferred a play-action pass there or a Boom Herron run. At that point in the drive, though, Richardson was on the field because I think Herron was gassed from gashing the Texans defense. On the other hand, if the play call had worked, I'm sure I'd be writing about how great of an idea it was.

D'Qwell Jackson continues to tackle people. He was credited 10 total tackles (6 solo) this week. For the season, he has 120 tackles.

In the playoffs. When it comes to the NFL, all that matters is making it in. The Colts are there--they're AFC South Champions again. They'll host a playoff game, and unless something unlikely happens, that game will come during the first round. If they win, they're headed to Denver or New England.

All-Time Reggie. We've always known Reggie Wayne is one of the all-time Colts. When he re-signed with the team after the 2-14 season and extended his career with Andrew Luck at the helm, it sealed the deal. Still, anyone who breaks a Peyton Manning record for wins and career games warrants an extra mention. Reggie earned the game ball.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 14 vs. Browns

Quick summary:

The Colts win a game they have no business winning because nothing good ever happens to the Cleveland Browns.

90 yards to glory. We've seen this one before: the Colts put together a lackluster performance but survive on the strength of a late drive. The 90-yard touchdown drive needed something from all of the team's rising young stars. Donte Moncrief had a key catch, and so did Coby Fleener. Dwayne Allen drew a crucial pass interference penalty. Boom Herron had the most important one-yard run of his career. Andrew Luck made a big play with his legs. T.Y. Hilton caught the game winner.

Da Boom. Boom Herron saved the day. There's no disputing this. Without his second and third effort on a fourth and inches, the Colts would've lost. Herron never let up, twisting out of tackles and getting juuuuuuuust enough yardage for a first down. The less said about the original spot there, the better.

T.Y. terrific. T.Y. Hilton has shed the reputation of being a one-dimensional "speed" guy. He runs good routes and can shake off defenders. That world-class speed is always there for him, of course. He ended up with 10 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. One went for 42 yards, the other for one yard--but what an important yard it was.

Not all wine and roses, however. T.Y. wasn't perfect. He fumbled the ball away after a catch (the Browns didn't get any points out of it), had a ball glance off his hands and into the grasp of a Browns defender, and also dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a fade route in the endzone. I'd still take him on my team, however.

D'oh for two. The Colts are slavishly devoted to "The Chart" of two-point conversion scenarios and should kill it with fire because theirs is terrible. There was no reason to go for two after Hilton's TD catch in the third quarter. In my humble opinion, it was too early in the game to do that. You don't go for two unless you absolutely had to, and the Colts had to know they were going to get a few more cracks at the Browns defense because the Browns offense is terrible. The failed conversion forced them to go for two after the eventual game-winning TD. They also failed to convert, meaning Cleveland could've won the game with a field goal.

Shipley, believe it or not. The Colts hate A.Q. Shipley. I'd love to know why. He's not the monster that Jonotthan "There Are Some Stupid Ways to Spell Jonathan" Harrison is and doesn't have the latter's potential. I get that. What I don't get, however, is how Shipley continues to get the short end of the stick. He outplayed Samson Satele but ended up getting shipped off to Baltimore. After being cast away there, he ended up back in Indy, where he filled in at center because the Colts have no plan for their offensive line. How was Shipley rewarded for his admirable play? He didn't sniff the football field until Hugh Thornton got hurt. Meanwhile, Harrison was given every chance to snap balls over Luck's head and miss the block that led to a Browns touchdown. Shipley only got into the game because Harrison was hurt. I don't get it. I don't think Shipley's the best offensive lineman ever, but it seems to me he's been effective when he's in, limited potential or not.

(Not So) Ageless Reggie Wayne. I'm not going to bag on Reggie. I just can't. I'm not going to say he's too old and his skills have diminished because it breaks my heart to even think that way. Pagano said Reggie has a torn tricep that's making it impossible for him to catch the ball. I hope that's the case. Reggie's trying to catch balls in the fold of his arm and his chest--something he never does. He had just one catch on eight targets and looked absolutely awful. If he's hurt, rest him. Let him heal.

Just spot 'em a couple touchdowns. It'll be fine. I appreciate the fact that the Colts don't panic when things go wrong. I don't appreciate how often things go wrong, however. The Colts surrendered two defensive touchdowns: one on a fumble in the endzone and the other on a pick six. Luck added another interception and Hilton lost a fumble. The interception resulted in a field goal, meaning the Colts offense effectively handed the Browns 17 points. That would spell a blowout against most teams, but we're talking about the Browns.

Pure misery. I don't know how Browns fans do it. I really don't. I remember when the Colts had back-to-back 3-13 seasons and suffered through the Peyton-less 2-14 campaign. It's been winning seasons and playoffs for all but one other year since 1999. Colts fans saw an unprecedented era of terrific play. The Browns, however, haven't tasted success. Their games are nearly impossible to watch no matter who's at quarterback. If their offense could do anything--just a single play!--they win this game. Alas, they couldn't and they didn't.

Sure, he's offside, but block him, maybe? I agree with Gosder Cherilus that Paul Kruger was offside just before he rocked Andrew Luck and picked up a 15-yard roughing the passer/contact with the helmet penalty. However, Cherilus just stood there and numbly pointed at the officials to bring attention to Kruger's offsidedness (I know, not a word). Let's just block him next time, just to be safe, okay?

Then again, maybe Cherilus really wanted that field goal. The Colts ended up with an important field goal after Kruger's penalty. So I guess there's that.

Josh Gordy. He's been pretty much terrible in relief of Vontae Davis, but he wasn't awful this week. He also had the interception that finally sealed the game (as if the Browns were going to do anything).

Unexpected Bonehead Play Award. This one goes to Cory Redding. The veteran had an inexplicable roughing the passer penalty near the end of the game. Did he think the Colts had intercepted the ball and decide it was a good time to take a shot at Hoyer? It was unnecessary.

Johnny Football time! The Browns are done. You know it, I know it, they know it. That means it's time to get a good look at their first-round pick because that's what the NFL wants. Hoyer missed a bunch of throws, including a couple to guys who were wide open.

I'll have what he's having. Adam Vinatieri ages like a fine wine. I was afraid the 51-yarder was too much to ask for, but he nailed it.

Yep, it did hit the ground. The Colts got a break late when Josh Gordon caught a 14-yard pass on third down. That wasn't the break. The Colts challenged the play, and the ball definitely hit the turf. The Browns punted, and it was 90 yards to glory from there.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 13 vs. Redskins

Quick summary:

A cloud of doubt once again hangs over the Colts after another slow start. Eventually, they get it together and show Washington the true meaning of pain.

Awful start. Andrew Luck was sacked on the first play of the game and fumbled the ball, giving the Redskins great field position. Washington settled for a field goal. Luck threw an interception on the next series, but the 'Skins couldn't capitalize. Since the Redskins are a terrible football team, none of these things mattered.

BOOM, BABY! The Colts have a great two-back system: Trent Richardson and the Other Guy Who Runs It Better. Herron went 49 yards on a touchdown run and was solid. However, he also put the ball on the turf for the second straight game. That's something to watch.

The Mistake. We're back to calling Trent Richardson "The Mistake" this week. It's a pretty popular thing to do, but he was especially ineffective this week, averaging just 1.5 yards/carry and gracing us with a long rush of three yards. Three. Stinking. Yards. Richardson's obviously not the guy the Colts thought he'd be, but they could also use him a little better. He's been more effective on swing/screen passes. Then again, when you have T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, and Coby Fleener to throw to, why waste a pass on T-Rich?

Fleener! No one covered Coby Fleener this week. He had a monster game, reeling in four catches for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The first TD catch was beautiful. The second TD catch was an exercise in teamwork and hustle. Then again...

#Fleenered! We've seen this one before: Coby Fleener, no one around him, drops a perfectly thrown pass. Why does this happen? Does he think too much when he's all by himself and a touchdown is all but assured? The world may never know.

Good grief, Moncrief! Less playing time for Hakeem Nicks means more playing time for Donte Moncrief which means a lot of happy Colts fans. Washington's secondary refused to cover Moncrief, who got loose for touchdown catches of 48 and 79 yards. Perhaps even more heartening was how Moncrief hustled during Fleener's long catch and run, keeping a couple of would-be tacklers away from No. 80.

T.Y.! T.Y. Hilton caught the second of Luck's five touchdown passes. He made a pair of jaw-dropping grabs that had to be seen to be believed. Seriously, they were great. T.Y. can beat you deep, but he can also get you with his route running and elusiveness. He made great adjustments on both catches.

The turnover bug. Add three more turnovers to this team's tally. One day, they'll learn to take care of the ball. Maybe.

Fourth and duh. Aggressive? Warranted? Stupid? There are several adjectives to describe Jay Gruden's decision to go for it on fourth and short in Washington's own territory. It backfired and basically clinched the game for Indy. Washington called for a play-action pass in hopes of catching the Colts off-guard. But they forgot to block Erik Walden, who shot through the right side, blindsided Colt McCoy, and forced a fumble. D'Qwell Jackson picked it up for one of the easiest scoop-and-score defensive touchdowns you'll ever see. That decision--or the failed execution of the play call--was the game's defining moment.

The Meal McCoy. The Colts defense feasted on Colt McCoy, sacking him six times. The D was credited with nine QB hits. Walden had a pair of sacks while Greg Toler, Jerrell Freeman, Jonathan Newsome (1.5) and Art Jones (0.5) all got in on the hot McCoy action.

But they didn't get him every time. McCoy's highlight of the game was somehow evading three different Colts defenders who had him dead to rights and then flicking a pass to wide open Logan Paulsen, a dude who's been targeted 13 times this season and has only caught 11 total passes.

Will they ever beat a good team? The Colts beat up on FCS Jacksonville last week and Washington this week. Against teams with actual talent and quarterbacks, they're 0-4 (Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New England). Two of those games weren't even close. Look, the Colts play the schedule they're given, and that schedule includes the Titans and Jaguars. I'd just like to see them rise to the occasion and beat a contender.

Did Mike Adams try to hurt DeSean Jackson? Internet rumblings tell me it looks like Mike Adams took a dive after being pushed in the back so he could take an "unintentional shot" at Jackson's legs. As in any case, you'll see what you want to see. Maybe next time the Washington player who hit Adams late will think twice before doing it.

Would it make a good Subway commercial? Just imagine RGIII, clipboard in hand, telling us about the benefits of Subway's low-fat, low-calorie sandwich offerings. "Subway, the official training restaurant of backups everywhere."

That tight end problem. Jordan Reed caught 9 passes for 123 yards, proving once again that the Colts simply can't cover tight ends.

Josh Cribbs. I think it's safe to say that Cribbs has brought excitement to the return unit. He's fearless and decisive. One day, the Colts will be able to set up a return without getting a penalty. It was a problem when Griff Whalen was returning punts, too. Cribbs also had a fantastic special teams tackle that pinned Washington deep in its own territory.