Week 2: Colts vs. Eagles | Darren Sproles Strikes Again

Philadelphia Eagles Running Back/Colts Nemesis Darren Sproles (Photo: AP/AJ Mast)

Philadelphia Eagles Running Back/Colts Nemesis Darren Sproles
(Photo: AP/AJ Mast)

I had the strangest dream the other night. A little green monster took the field against the Colts on Monday Night Football. He was weary and worn, but when he stepped on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium, something magical happened. He suddenly emerged youthful and powerful. Small but strong, he was difficult to spot and even harder to stop. He ran all over the Colts. And when it was over, before disappearing down the tunnel…he laughed an evil laugh and proclaimed, “I’ll be back!”

And then I woke up. On Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a dream. Darren Sproles strikes again.

Someone asked me last week what my biggest concern was going into the Eagles game. My response was not the up-tempo Chip Kelly offense, or the emerging star quarterback Nick Foles, or even LeSean (Shady/Bad Tipper) McCoy. It was the 60-year-old (no, not really) running back Darren Sproles. And now you know why. I don’t know what the Colts ever did to Darren Sproles, but he just loves to embarrass them. No matter what color he’s wearing.

Sproles was hardly the only problem the Colts had on Monday night. This one was puzzling. I can usually put my finger on the reason the Colts lose a game, but this week…not so much. Maybe it’s because many things contributed to the loss. Many mistakes, many missed opportunities, and yes, many bad calls by the officials. But when a team gets a bad call, they have to respond with a good play. And the Colts just didn’t do that enough.

The offense looked…off. Not offensive, but off. The defense made plays, except when they needed to most.

Yes, the Colts lost two games in a row for the first time this era. But, it’s early in the season. And last I checked, there’s a lot of football left to be played. They need to have a short memory. Because as much as 0-2 sucks, 0-3 sucks more.

The message to the Colts is simple: Control what you can. The refs can’t be stopped. Darren Sproles can.  Or…can he?

It’s a new week. And the Colts have one job…just win, baby.

Go Colts!

The War of 1812: Part Two

Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Colts QB Andrew Luck (Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar)

Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Colts QB Andrew Luck (Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar)

The second War of 1812 picked up right where the first one left off. Especially for Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

The last game he played in was October 20, 2013 against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

And here he was. September 7, 2014. On Sunday Night Football. Facing off against the Denver Broncos. Only this time, at Mile High Stadium.

As I watched Reggie Wayne catch that first pass of that first play, I wondered if it felt like he had never left the last game. Like he just woke up from a crazy dream, only to realize that a year had passed and nothing had changed.

Because, well…it felt like nothing had changed.

The Colts got off to a slow start. They missed catches, dropped interceptions, failed to recover fumbles, and even missed a field goal. They went into halftime down 7-24.

And then, the second half…cue the miraculous comeback.

Fueled by determination, drive, and a little bit of Luck, the Colts quarterback led the team on another one of his famous battles. The Colts defense cooperated and forced Peyton Manning into the one place he’s least effective: the sideline. And momentum fueled the drive.

But, the little things didn’t fall into place and it was too little, too late for the Colts. They fell to the Broncos 31-24.

This game wasn’t a must win for the Colts. And despite the same nagging issues, this team has improved on their strengths and strengthened their weaknesses. If they can take care of the little things (which add up to big things), there should be no limit to what the Colts can achieve this season.

But like last season, they’ll have to do it without one of their star players. This week news broke that linebacker Robert Mathis, suspended four games for use of an illegal substance, tore his Achilles Tendon while working out in Atlanta.

A team leader on and off the field, Mathis’ presence will be impossible to replace. But like last season, it leaves the door open for someone else. The players who stepped up in Reggie Wayne’s absence: T.Y. Hilton and Griff Whalen, are now key contributors on the Colts offense. And there are players on the Colts defense desperate for an opportunity to do the same. To those players: THIS IS YOUR TIME.

Something tells me the War of 1812 isn’t over.

It just feels like it’s written in the stars…

That there is still a game to be played.

That there is still a battle to be won.

That there is still a story to be written…

And that in the end, it will go down as one of the greatest ever told.

Go Colts!

My Letter: Dear Jerry Hughes

Former Colts LB Jerry Hughes with Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian in 2010. (Photo: AP/Darron Cummings)

Former Colts LB Jerry Hughes with Coach Jim Caldwell and GM Bill Polian. 
(Photo: AP/Darron Cummings)

Dear Jerry Hughes,

I heard that some NFL players were critical of the sentence handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell to Colts owner Jim Irsay. That didn’t particularly surprise me. What did surprise me however, was reading a comment by Jerry Hughes, likening the punishment to a slap on the wrist.

“I’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves. I mean, he’s a billionaire, so I’m pretty sure [$500,000] won’t hurt too badly.” -Former Colts linebacker Jerry Hughes on Jim Irsay

I thought to myself, Jerry Hughes? The first round pick by the Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft? The one who recorded just six tackles his rookie year? The one who doubled that number his sophomore year, with a whopping 13 tackles (in 12 games)? And was good for about two tackles a game his third year? The one who collected a reported $7 million dollars from the Colts, which comes out to about $140,000 per tackle (I’m bad at math, so check my numbers). The guy who could go down as the biggest first round bust by the Colts in draft history. The dude who was arrested himself for public intoxication in 2011. And the player the Colts finally traded to the Buffalo Bills at the beginning of the 2013 season, only for him to somehow get it together once he got there…

I was shocked that Jerry Hughes (THAT Jerry Hughes) would have the nerve to say anything about the Colts and specifically about the guy who signed his paychecks for the first three unproductive years of his NFL career.

After all we went through with you, you’d think Colts fans would have been bitter when you found success in Buffalo. But, we weren’t. We were happy for you. If it didn’t work out here, we were just glad it worked out for you somewhere. Because that’s how we are.

Colts Nation is a family. We have a saying, “Once a Colt, always a Colt.” We continue to support our former players, even after they move on.

Unless they’re playing against us. Or, unless they turn against us. Like you did.

You crossed us, Jerry. And now you’re out of the family.

I hope you continue to find success in Buffalo.

And I hope you freeze your ass off while doing it.

XO

The Blue Mare

The War of 1812: One Year Later and Scars Remain

October 20, 2013 (Photo: IndyStar/Matt Kryger)

October 20, 2013
(Photo: IndyStar/Matt Kryger)

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”

– Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

What a difference a year makes.

I saw the first promo for the week one Colts vs. Broncos Sunday Night Football game. And you know what? I’m fine. Really…I am.

Last year? Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. Blame it on the soundtrack (I’m Coming Home), the slow motion video, the fresh wounds from the Colts’ breakup with Peyton Manning, and his first trip back to Lucas Oil Stadium…but the first time I saw last year’s promo, I sobbed. I know. I did though.

It also prompted me to write (on the spot) what is still the most read story I have ever written on either of my blogs (over 10,000 views and counting). That emotion was so real. And so gut wrenching. And based on the feedback I received, I wasn’t alone.

But it’s true, what people say…time really does heal. Even if it leaves you with a scar.

Anything you care deeply about has the ability to hurt you. Being a sports fan is hard. It hurts. And sometimes, it can damn near break your heart. But it can also be incredibly inspiring. Which keeps us coming back for more, no matter how badly we’ve been hurt in the past.

I was lucky enough to have a quarterback who was everything any fan could ever want. I always knew how special he was and I never took him for granted. I was proud to call him mine. I loved him so much, I couldn’t keep him to myself. I was happy to share him with the world. I actually made other people fall in love with him. And I took great joy in that.

When it was over, I was numb. I didn’t think I could ever feel that way again, at least about another quarterback.

Yet somehow, in a twice in a lifetime chance…I do.

I still thank my lucky stars that I had Peyton Manning as my quarterback. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. And somehow, before he left, he set me up with the next quarterback love of my life: Andrew Luck.

Now, for a brief moment in time, I get to see my beloved quarterback, Andrew Luck (and the Colts) play my beloved former quarterback, Peyton Manning (and the Broncos). I don’t know how long it will last. I just know that it won’t be forever. And I plan to enjoy every minute of it.

So, no more tears.

I wear my scars like a badge of honor.

Because they’ve made me the fan I am today.

What a difference a year makes.

Go Colts!

Colts Preseason Game 4: My Keepers

Three of my keepers: S Colt Anderson, Marcus Burley, and OLB Jonathan Newsome make a tackle. (Photo: Colts)

Three of my keepers: S Colt Anderson, CB Marcus Burley, and OLB Jonathan Newsome make a tackle.
(Photo: Colts)

Alright, the Colts’ fourth and last preseason game against the Bengals was not exactly interesting. Or watchable. But, some of us forced ourselves to watch it anyway. Mostly, so we can speculate who will make the team.

The good news is…the preseason is over. The bad news is…the Colts have to go from 75 players to 53 (plus 10 practice squad players) by Saturday at 4:00 PM.

And it’s a good thing that Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson is in really good shape. Because there’s a pretty good chance he may have to suit up on the offensive line at some point this season. Or, he could bring in a player or two once roster cuts are made. Which is the more likely scenario.

I’ve been watching these players since training camp and I have my own list of keepers for Mr. Grigson. I assume the healthy players who were not on the field on Thursday night have made the team (including WR Griff Whalen).

As for the rest, here are the players I absolutely have to have on the Colts roster:

RB Daniel “Boom” Herron BOOM!

WR Donte Moncrief No brainer.

G Jack Mewhort Colts top draft pick. Enough said.

OLB Jonathan Newsome (And not just because his mom followed me on twitter.) The former Ball State Cardinal has said from the day he was drafted that he wants to be the next Robert Mathis. And watching him play, I’m starting to see glimpses of a young Robert Mathis.

CB Loucheiz Purifoy He’s special. And he’s been special on special teams.

RB Zurlon Tipton At times, this guy has run better than anyone on the roster. Without the benefit of the starting roster.

C Jonotthan Harrison Aside from the fact that the Colts are needy at the position, this guy is smart. He is extremely well spoken. And he gets football. I understand why the Colts were high on him. I am too.

S Colt Anderson His name is Colt. What more do you need, for God’s sake? And he’s also consistently made plays. Which is enough for me.

CB Marcus Burley Again, he’s consistently made plays. At a position the Colts are consistently light on come midseason.

TE Jack Doyle Hometown kid. Who has made a pretty good preseason for himself.

TE Weslye Saunders Yep. Want him too.

NT Zach Kerr Take out Thursday night and he’s been pretty darn impressive.

OLB Andy Studebaker Has been a total stud in preseason.

Practice squad:

TE Erik Swoope I just have to see what he can do. He’s mature, talented, disciplined, and driven. And I want to see where that will take him with a little more time.

WR Da’Rick Rogers Be happy I put you here. You could have taken the fire extinguisher off the wall at Paul Brown Stadium and blown it in the end zone. That would have made this decision much easier. Don’t be stupid! Unless you want to be stupid somewhere else.

These are the players I feel strongly about. The guys I feel best represent the Colts both on and off the field. Horseshoe guys, if you will.

Truth be told, all the men on the current roster have put their hearts and souls into the last several months. They’ve sacrificed many things to focus on their dream. For some, it’s about to come true. For others, it’s about to come to an end (at least with the Colts).

But I wish them all success and will continue to cheer for them…no matter what color they wear.

Colts fans have a saying, “Once a Colt, always a Colt.” And we mean it.

Go Colts!