During last night's podcast, Brad Wells (BigBlueShoe), the managing editor of StampedeBlue.com, SB Nation's Indianapolis Colts site, was nice enough to join us to talk a little about the Colts current situation and about his thoughts on their game against the Bengals this weekend.
Here is the interview transcribed:
Jason: Obviously the two teams that are probably geographically closer to each other than most teams in the NFL are playing each other this weekend. The Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals about 90 miles away. The Bengals haven't beaten the Colts outside of every preseason for the last 30 years in a long time and a lot of that has to do with Peyton Manning, but Peyton Manning is not playing and it will be Curtis Painter instead. Before we get into some specifics, Brad, what are just some general thoughts about this game? What comes to mind first when you think about the game coming up on Sunday?
Brad: Well the Bengals should win it and if they don't, you should fire your coach on Monday. I say that jokingly. I heard you guys were talking about a trap game earlier. There's no reason for you guys to lose this game. I know there are obviously a lot of, being Bengals fans, I know the Bengals market and I know the Bengals teams and all that goes with it. I used to kind of root for the Bengals a little bit in the '80s, I always rooted for them over the 49ers. But Zimmer does a really good job with that defense.
The Colts offense, especially the offensive line, is really in disarray. Their starting left tackle, who was their No. 1 draft pick Anthony Costanzon, is probably not going to play this week. He's got an injured ankle. Joseph Addai said that he's a, quote, longshot to play this week so he's out. They might get their right guard Ryan Diem back but they don't know. Their starting right tackle, Jeff Linkenbach, is flipped over and he's playing left tackle. A guy they signed two weeks ago is going to play right tackle. I mean, it really is a mess and with Zimmer and that defense.
It's one thing to play Kansas City, and Kansas City is a truly horrible team. It's frustrating to go up 17-0 and then lose. They're defense is just wretched and Todd Haley is a joke of a head coach. To lose the game like that at home, that's for me personally when I knew that this was not a very good Colts team that had kind of forgotten how to win. I don't think that they've given up, it's just that all of the things that have been said over the years that the team is not good except for Peyton Manning or Peyton Manning is the only reason the team is competitive. All of those things are being proven correct this year. After years of the franchise, and in particular the front office, saying no this team is great, there's lots of great players on this team, they're really looking bad this year. And the Bengals should win this game and win it handedly unless Andy Dalton just goes out there and he's careless with the football. I really think that turnovers is the only way this game remains competitive for the Colts.
Jason: Kerry Collins started the season and I believe he came out because of a concussion and it was turned over to Curtis Painter. Is Curtis Painter the guy from here on out regardless of Collins' health?
Brad: Yeah. He's the guy from here on out and the whole concussion thing with Collins was really sketchy. There are some people who don't even believe that Collins ever sustained a concussion, that they just made it up to get him out of there so he could save face and put Painter in there. It was pretty painfully obvious that Collins didn't know the offense. The front office had no faith in Painter, which was why they got Collins. And then Painter went out there and he played pretty well. He actually played extremely well, considering that prior to the start of the season, his quarterback rating was NINE. Not 90. Nine. So, the fact that he's played pretty well, he's thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions, he's fumbled the ball a few times. This is a horrible season for us and 0-5 really sucks.
You know I wrote an article yesterday saying that the owner needs to purge the front office of anyone with the last name Napoleon. This season's really been an indictment, in my humble opinion, as to these guys are really living off reputation and not off of results, especially over the last four or five years.
With Painter, it's a good example. This guy's a pretty decent player. He's got talent and he knows what he's doing and they had no faith in him. The first three games they essentially had no chance to win because of Collins and now that Painter's playing well other aspects of the team are falling apart. So Painter is the starter from here on out and I think he deserves it and maybe they'll try to see what they can get for him at the end of the year or if they want to keep him around. But he's going to be the Colts quarterback moving forward.
Jason: Now Peyton Manning obviously has health problems and he's entering his 14th season. The Colts are sitting at 0-5. How much Andrew Luck talk is there in Indianapolis right now?
Brad: Everybody's talking about it right now. "Suck for Luck," baby! I mean they're making t-shirts for it. I get hashtags Suck for Luck all day long on Twitter and Irsay came out two days ago and said that if Luck were there and the Colts had the No. 1 overall pick, they'd probably take him. There was some discussion that Irsay should be fined for some of those comments because Luck is an underclassman, but the NFL came out and said no, we all know that Andrew Luck is going to be the No. 1 overall pick.
There's a lot of talk about it and I think it's talk that, quite frankly, angers the players. My argument about that is if it angers you that they're talking about Andrew Luck, maybe you should do something about the fact that the team is 0-5, like maybe win a football game. I think that the Andrew Luck talk is going to stick around. I still think that at the end of the day, Miami is going to suck enough to get the first-overall pick, because, I mean who is their quarterback now? I think they signed Sage Rosenfels, come on.
With that team as poorly constructed as they are, I think they'll probably be the worst team in the NFL. I think the Colts will probably try to find some way to probably squeak out a few extra wins.
And they're talking about this, and I don't know why. It actually angers me that they're talking about it. There is talk that they would bring Peyton Manning back in December if he's healthy and they would trot him out there to play games in December when the season's over. This is a very sensitive topic for a lot of Colts fans. As you guys might be aware, two years ago they gave up on an undefeated season by resting starters. Their reasoning for that was we don't want to get people like Peyton Manning hurt.
Well the season's over and they wan to bring Peyton Manning out there near the end of the year in December when the season's over, just to play him? It would be the ultimate hypocrisy and the fan base right now is very angry and that might push them over the edge.
Jason: Concerning the game this weekend, you said you believe the Bengals should win. What matchups will you be watching the most between these two teams?
Brad: The Bengals front seven versus the Colts offensive line. The Bengals front seven should dominate the football game and the Colts offensive line, and I can't really stress this enough to you guys and I say this as a fan of the team but I also try to look objectively at matchups. I also think that Andy Dalton should have a very good game. I'm not very familiar with the Bengals offensive line but the Colts secondary might be the worst in football. It's truly atrocious and you guys got a heck of a rookie wide receiver in the Green kid.
This might be a good game for Dalton in terms of his confidence because these corners and other than Antwan Bethea at safety, the corners and the other safety are utterly clueless. And the Colts' top cornerback Jarod Powers will be out this weekend I think. So Dalton is going to pick these guys apart and he should pick them apart. If Dalton struggles to throw the football, as a Bengals fan, I would be a little concerned about it. I know rookies can have highs and lows and I've been very impressed with Dalton. This is a game that he should go out there and play well because this secondary is bad. If he struggles against this secondary and if he's throwing interceptions, I would be a little bit worried because he shouldn't. This is not a very good defense. It's a defense that if Freeney and Mathis don't get pressure on the quarterback, the quarterback is going to complete a 30-yard pass. So if the Bengals offensive line holds up, Dalton should play very well.
Jason: What players or what matchup should the Bengals be worried about when it comes to the Colts?
Brad: Well right now I think Mathis and Freeney. The Bengals tackles against Mathis and Freeney. If Mathis and Freeney get off the edge and start to pressure Dalton, he's a rookie and rookies in the face of pressure wilt very quickly. I don't care who the rookie is. When Peyton Manning was a rookie and pressure got to him he would start to make stupid decisions with the football. And I think that Dalton, just like any other rookie, is the exact same way. If the Bengals tackles and backs aren't able to contain Freeney and Mathis and Dalton isn't able to step up or step away from the pressure, then the Bengals are going to be in trouble. If he is able to do that and the offensive line for the Bengals holds up, it's going to be a long day for the Colts defense.
Jason: So what's your prediction for the score? What do you think is going to happen?
Brad: Oh God. I hate doing this. I'll be generous to my own team and I'll say the Colts score 20. I have a lot of respect for Mike Zimmer and I think he's a really good defensive coach. So 20. We'll go 30-20 Bengals. Have the Bengals scored 30 points at all this year?
Jason: Yeah, they actually won 30-20 against the Jaguars last week.
Brad: It will be a repeat then. The Colts and the Jaguars are very similar teams in terms of their talent level right now. So I think you'll see a repeat of last week and it might even be worse because I think the Bengals are better at home than they are on the road.
Joe Goodberry: Not having Peyton Manning or having him the last 14 years has pretty much masked so many deficiencies of this team. Even the offensive line. I always thought Peyton made the offensive line look so much better than it was. If he comes back and he's fine and they don't get the first pick, could this be a blessing in disguise to find out which of these guys can actually play and which ones can't and which holes are really hurting this team? When the Bengals lost Carson Palmer in '08 for so long, they came back and won the division the next year.
Brad: Yeah. That's a really good question because we talked about that in the early part of the season and that it could be a blessing in disguise. It's important to note that pretty much throughout Manning's entire career that he did have a pretty good offensive line. The offensive line really started to deteriorate the year after they won the Super Bowl when their left tackle Tarik Glenn retired very quickly. When he retired they used their first-round pick to draft Tony Ugoh out of Arkansas and he was supposed to replace Glenn and he sucked. There's just no way around it, he was horrible and he's probably one of the biggest draft busts in Bill Polian's career, if not the biggest. And for him to not develop into at least a decent offensive lineman, he's out of football right now, he was only in the league for three to four years, that really regressed the offensive line. There were just a series of bad draft picks to try to solidify the offensive line. They took a guy by the name of Mike Pollak out of Arizona State in 2008 in the second round and he was a bust. They took a guy named Mike Justice in the fourth round in 2008 and he only lasted a season.
This past draft, they used their top two picks on offensive lineman and one is already done for the year -- his name is Ben Ijalana and he blew out his knee against the Buccaneers in week three. So it's a combination of bad drafting and bad luck that has regressed this offensive line. They've also just been stupid in not retaining their good offensive linemen and keeping the ones who stink. Their left tackle from last season, Charlie Johnson, they didn't re-sign him in the offseason and he's the left tackle now for the Vikings and he's played pretty well. They let a guy named Kyle DeVan go in their 53-man cut down and he's a starter out in Philadelphia now. He's actually one of the only good offensive linemen that Philadelphia actually has.
So it's one of those things where the offensive line at one point was very good and it regressed very quickly because of bad front office decisions. And the silver lining here is yeah, you get to see a lot of these guys who are payed a lot of money, Freeney's payed a lot of money, Antwan Bethea is payed a lot of money, Gary Brackett is payed a lot of money, and these guys are payed a lot and they're 0-5. So I think that the silver lining is that a lot of these guys that were valued so highly really aren't that good. They're not. If they were, the team wouldn't be 0-5. Painter has played well the last couple of weeks so it's not the quarterback position. The defense hasn't held up its end of the bargain and the running game hasn't been good.
And, guys, I can't really stress this enough. There's a big movement with Indianapolis fans that they're going to find some way when they come down there to Cincinnati they're going to kidnap Zimmer and bring him back here to Indianapolis and insist that he be the new head coach of the team going forward this year because Jim Caldwell, who I think is a nice guy, the fans have given up on him completely. He's in the second to last year of his contract, next year is his last year, and I do not see this guy coming back as head coach next year. I think that one of the guys who might get targeted by this front office might be Zimmer.
Joe: You can take Zimmer if you leave Irsay and you take Mike Brown.
Brad: No deal.