Both the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts dropped their season openers – the Browns with a disappointing performance against the Bengals and the Colts in a 34-7 demolition at the hands of the Houston Texans. The Browns and Colts will meet up this Sunday in Indianapolis, and when it’s all said and done, one of the two will be reeling with an 0-2 record to start the 2011 season.
To get a closer look at the Colts, we spoke with Adam Hughes of Naptown’s Finest to talk about the loss of Peyton Manning, the future of the quarterback position in Indianapolis, and who to look for when the teams take the field.
1. Everyone knows that Peyton Manning is out, but what does that mean for the future of the quarterback position in Indianapolis? Is it finally time to consider the team’s future beyond Manning?
In my opinion, it’s definitely time, and I thought so before the latest neck debacle. To the Colts’ credit, team brass (Jim Irsay and Bill Polian) have admitted as much in recent interviews, but that big, new contract may make snagging a really good young QB tricky. The Colts have also been pretty weak with their first-round picks lately, too, so I’m concerned about how well they’d do in drafting a top quarterback. Throw in the fact the new guy will probably be asked to sit behind Manning for a few years, and I think it’s clear we have a potential hot mess on our hands.
2. Nothing seemed to go right for the Colts last Sunday against the Texans. If Manning is out for the season, how does that change your outlook for the Colts’ year?
Obviously, the complexion of the entire team changes dramatically without Manning. The offense sputters, the defense gets worn out, and Jim Caldwell’s coaching inadequacies are exposed. That said, I expected the Colts to do better than they did against the Texans, and I’m willing to accept that at least some of the ugliness was due to rust, particularly on Kerry Collins’ part.
For me, this game against the Browns will tell a lot about this team. If they can regroup at all, I still see them fighting for the weak AFC South. If this game even remotely resembles the Houston game, then I think it really could be a long, long season.
3. What is the current mood in Indianapolis? Do fans think the team needs to trade for another quarterback? Are they concerned about the defense?
The mood here is not very cheery. Indianapolis was really a marginal NFL city before the Manning era began, and I would venture to say that most of the current crop of fans have never really done much suffering in terms of supporting a losing team. It should be fun to see how soft attendance is this year if the slide continues.
Yes, there has been a lot of window shopping for another quarterback among fans. Just about every QB who is not currently setting the world on fire with another team has been mentioned as “The Answer.” Any one of Brett Favre, Kyle Orton, David Garrard, or Carson Palmer, among others, would be better than the stiff we have right now, or so goes the brooding. I’d like to see a bit more of Collins before I scoop the dirt over his corpse.
And yes, we are all concerned about the defense, as we have been for several seasons. While the Colts have been flashy on D, with guys who proverbially “fly to the ball,” the truth is that they’ve had trouble with the run and in the secondary for awhile now. It’s hard to win when you can’t stop the run or the passing game consistently!
4. What are a couple position battles that Browns fans should look out for on Sunday?
The entire offensive line, save maybe center Jeff Saturday, is locked in a perpetual position battle. In particular, I expect rookie Ben Ijalana to push Jeff Linkenbach at right tackle. Beyond that, Drake Nevis currently backs up Fili Moala at DT, but Nevis was one of the most pleasant surprises during the preseason. If his foot is healed, Nevis may be hard to keep out of the starting lineup.
5. Who wins this match-up?
As I mentioned above, I’m giving the Colts and their relative unfamiliarity with each other the benefit of the doubt here. I’ll take the Colts, 22-21, on the strength of an 85-yard Pat McAfee field goal as the fourth quarter vanishes.
Thanks again to Adam for taking the time to answer a few questions, despite picking the Browns to lose on an 85-yard field goal (even though most fans think, “Of course it would happen to the Browns”). To read my interview and preview of the game with Adam, click here. For more Browns news, be sure to follow Dawg Pound Daily on Facebook and Twitter.