What To Expect Sunday (w/ Raymond Wright)

**A few days ago, I had someone on Twitter approach me about possibly trying to do a collaboration post.  Sort of a point/counter-point post.  I really liked the idea, so I had him write up something, and we’re going to see how this turns out.  I do request that you comment either on Facebook or Twitter, and let me know how you like this.  If it turns out really positive, I may make this a weekly thing.**

It’s another NFL Sunday.  Week 2.  Week 1 was rough for the Indianapolis Colts.  Actually, it was worse than rough.  No one, not a single fan, player, coach, or executive, could have predicted how bad the Colts would play against the Rams.  Now the Cardinals are coming into town.  What do we expect to happen today?  Here’s my take, and a special guest take from Raymond Wright, or @RizayW on Twitter.

Raymond:

You never want to be the team that others look at and say “at least we didn’t lose THAT bad”.  The Rams domination of the Colts was easily the biggest beat down of the week and that makes predicting how they’ll respond a difficult task.

Or does it?

In a drubbing, such as the Colts received last Sunday, there’s always plenty of blame to be passed around.  It appears that most of that blame was taken by poor Scott Tolzien.  Tolzien, the hapless career back-up, became a starter and was thrust into the starting role behind an offensive line that was declared “fixed” by the omniscient Jim Irsay. Scott “Touchdown” Tolzien has been benched in favor of 12-day Colt Jacoby Brissett.  It was all his fault.  Right?

Looking forward to this Sunday.  We have to think it’ll be a better product on the field than last week.  It couldn’t possibly be any worse.  I think it could be.  I don’t expect much out of Jacoby Brissett.  He’s proven he has talent, but he still doesn’t know the playbook.  Some fans write that off and say, “He’d still be better than Tolzien”, but I don’t think many people realize what not knowing the playbook entails.  He drops back to pass and he doesn’t know where the receivers will be.  He doesn’t know which side to hand the ball off on.  He doesn’t even know how to call the plays.  It’s possible he’s learned quite a bit this week, but we shouldn’t expect much offense this Sunday. “But he led the Colts only TD drive last week!”  Listen, he heaved the ball in the air and it was so overthrown that Donte Moncrief had to bail him out, making a great catch while fighting off a defender.  Jeff George could have done that.

So, if we won’t expect much offense we’ll have to rely on the defense right?  That idea makes every Colts fan cringe.  I was impressed with the defense for a few plays last week.  Don’t pay attention to the numbers.  The Rams had bad rushing numbers, but it was because they were running out the clock the entire second half.  What I was impressed with was that they showed up in difficult situations.  T.Y. Hilton fumbled on the Colts OWN 25 and they end up forcing the Rams to punt.  They did get a sack, and newcomer John Simon did a great job setting the edge on rush plays.

What will we see this week?

The Cardinals like to throw.  They like to throw deep and if it’s not there they like to dump it off to their running backs.  Can anyone name the Arizona Cardinals tight end?  With David Johnson out, expect Carson Palmer to have to drive the offense.  That’s an advantage for the Colts.  Palmer has become a statue.  If the Colts secondary can cover the short routes, the rush will get there.  Even if the rush doesn’t get there, Palmer will have to dump it off to someone not named David Johnson.  I’m okay with that.

I expect the Colts offense to struggle.  The playbook will be severely limited for Brissett. Expect a lot of run plays and plays designed to get him out of the pocket and look downfield.  It’s hard to imagine the Colts’ line being able to give him time to stand back there making reads.  It’ll be 3-step drops or rolling out on most pass plays.  We’ll see a lot of draw plays, and if the offense really struggles, they may even bring Tolzien(GASP!) in for a series or two.

Predictions:

Daniel:

I looked at last Sunday as an indictment on this organization.  For several years now, Jim Irsay hasn’t done what has been apparent to the fans.  The leadership with this team is atrocious.  Sure, the players like their coach, but who cares?  This is the NFL.  If the players are so fragile that they need a coach that is nice to them, takes it easy on them, and congratulates them on something as small as a preseason win, then I don’t want them on my football team.

This week, Brissett should be starting.  He better be starting.  However, again showing the ineptness of this coaching staff, Chuck Pagano has not officially announced the starter.  The Colts cannot afford to try to trot Scott Tolzien back out there, when they take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at 1pm.  Unless, the goal is to get booed before kickoff.

The Colts caught a huge break this week when the Cardinals moved David Johnson to the Injured Reserve.  Had David Johnson been healthy for this game, this game wouldn’t be close.  He would easily put up almost 200 yards on the ground, and multiple TDs.  Fortunately, the Colts instead get a rapidly aging Carson Palmer, a rapidly aging Larry Fitzgerald, and virtually unknowns in the running game.

In order for the Colts to have a shot at winning this game, Brissett has to shine.  He has to come out commanding this team, leading from the first kickoff.  He can’t turn the ball over, as any sort of mistake might give Pagano a stupid idea, and result in Tolzien coming into the game.

The defense has to take advantage of the Cardinals age.  They can’t give Palmer time to find his receivers.  They need to be rushing the QB from the on-set.  The Cardinals running backs are capable, but I don’t believe that they are something that the Colts should really stress about.  If the Cardinals win this game, it’s going to be by taking advantage of the Colts awful defensive backs.

The Colts offense will be better than last week.  The defense needs to be stronger than last week.  The struggle is going to be overcoming the awful gameplan and playcalling, something that the Colts have had to try and overcome since Chuck Pagano came to town.  The Colts cannot afford to get down by two scores before they start to play, because Brissett is not Andrew Luck.  All in all though, the Colts will lose.  Chuck Pagano doesn’t win within the first two weeks of the season.

Predictions:

  • Brissett contributes 2 TDs
  • Marlon Mack shines
  • Palmer looks young again
  • Cardinals win 27-21
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