18to88Last week the Dolphins blogs we contacted blew us off. Not cool. This week we’re pleased to bring back Trading Places with a chat with the Colts blog 18to88.com.

Some interesting comments here, particularly the perception of Tom Brady out in Indy.

At 8-0 these Colts seem like they haven’t missed a beat. Coaching changes, injuries, nothing has impacted their W-L record yet. How good is this team? Can they run the table?

Can they run the table? Sure. The toughest game (Sunday included) they have left is at Houston. Then comes the Pats. Indy has no fear of Denver or Baltimore, as neither franchise has beaten Indy in a meaningful game in nearly a decade.

Will they? No, obviously not. They will drop a couple somewhere along the way.

Most of the reason why the ‘obstacles’ haven’t affected them is because they are more ‘media obstacles’ than real ones. The coaching change was from Dungy 1.0 to Dungy 2.0. Jim Caldwell was with the franchise every day of Dungy’s tenure. He’s his own man, but there was little disruption in day to day activities with the switch. As for the injuries, the Colts were among the most injured teams in 2007 and 2008. As of yet, they haven’t lost any of the irreplaceable players on the roster (Manning, Wayne, Clark, Saturday, Freeney, Mathis, Brackett). The Colts’ system is built on interchangeable parts, especially in the secondary, so the impact has been minimal.

The observation in the media here has been that the Colts are winning more with their defense this year rather than the offense. It’s being said that Manning has been providing just enough offense with Wayne and Clark, but that the defense is the strength of the team. The numbers seem to bear that out. Is it true?

100% true. The Colts defense is extremely good. We’ve said all year we think it’s ahead of the offense. The offense is Manning, Clark, Wayne and a bunch of magic tricks. It’s no where near where it should be. The defense on the other hand has been smothering. People who just saw the Dolphins game think Indy’s D is weak. The truth is that even in that game, they only had trouble with the Wildcat plays (something NE fans know a thing or two about). Outside of Miami’s Wildcat, no one has done much of anything against the Colts D all year running or passing. If Indy wins on Sunday, it will be because they hold the Pats under 20 points, something they are entirely capable of doing. To put the Indy D in perspective, they’ve allowed 66 fewer points than the Saints D (who has gotten a lot of pub). That’s better than a TD fewer A GAME.

Injuries on defense, Sanders, Jackson, Hayden, Halger. Are these going to catch up with the Colts at some point, or will they keep finding ways to plug the holes?

Here’s the truth about those injuries…most of them haven’t played much all year. Sanders played parts of two games. Jackson missed four games, and when he did play saw only limited nickle action. Those losses were regrettable, but considering how little they’ve played it’s hard to argue they’ll hurt. What they did was take away dreams of ‘another gear’ for the D. All season, we’ve seen a #1 scoring D missing half it’s secondary and dreamed out about how much better they could be with Sanders and Jackson. Now they aren’t coming back, so we are left with…the #1 scoring D in football. It’s hard to whine about that.

Hayden has been in and out of the lineup…and he will be missed (he’s also coming back in a few weeks). Hagler did play until he got hurt, but he’s also the most replaceable player on the team. He wasn’t even the starter until the week before the first game. Phil Wheeler is regarded to be the more talented player, but young LBs often struggle in the Colts’ system because it’s not instinctive for LBs it’s all about responsibilities and maintaing gaps (not just flowing to the ball and reading and reacting). If we had to lose an LB, Hagler was the least painful one to lose.

Indy has reached the limit of their depth. These injuries were absorbable. The next one won’t be.

Tell us about a player on the Colts defense that Patriots fans haven’t likely heard that much of, but will know a lot more about after Sunday night…

Clint Session, LB. He’s beast, a violent hitter. His 14 tackles and a pick last Sunday served to introduce him to Texans fans. We picked him as a surprise Pro Bowl player before the season, and I’ve seen nothing to convince me otherwise.

Here in New England, some Patriots fans such as myself have come to respect Peyton Manning, his style of play and talent. Is there any of that for Tom Brady out there, or is it all just dislike?

It’s mostly just raw hatred, but I lay the blame of that at the feet of Pats fans. They said so many stupid things about Manning over the years (isn’t clutch, only puts up numbers because of Harrison), they gave most of us little choice. They fired the first shots of the war of 1812 and no one is quite willing to accept a cease fire yet.

Most Indy fans saw Matt Cassel’s year last year as indicative of just how great a coach Belichick is and how Brady gets too much credit for the team’s success. The best thing I can say about Brady is that personally, I’ve come to understand how solid his numbers are in the all-time sense. Mostly though, Indy fans will heap all the praise on Belichick and Moss (the single most devastating weapon in the history of football when he wants to be).

Prediction for Sunday night?

Indy 21 New England 18 I think the game will be low scoring. Indy’s D is much better than people realize and the O is much worse.


You can read our responses to his questions over on their Behind Enemy Lines post this morning on 18to88.com.