Colts at Dolphins: Next Day Analysis


The Indianapolis Colts came away from Miami with a win, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

If there is one thing that we can take away from this season it is that Matt Hasselbeck is one tough old man. His player bio needs to include playing through: food poisoning, fractured/separated ribs, back and neck injuries, a jaw injury, and a shoulder injury. Hasselbeck was given the opportunity to sit, and no one would’ve blamed him, but his daughter told him to suck it up and he decided to keep playing as he sipped his dinner through a straw.

The dangerous QB combo of Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst managed to come away with a much need win for the Colts. I say much needed just because they managed to end a losing streak and at least make Week 17 somewhat interesting.

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There is one very specific way the Colts can make the playoffs. It involves 10 games going in their favor to improve strength of schedule and gain a tie breaking over the Texans. But I’ll make it real simple: the Colts aren’t going to the playoffs.

This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. The Colts got bonus wins with Hasselbeck, but simply had far too many games without Andrew Luck to make this a competitive season. The loss a week ago against Houston was really the final nail in the coffin for Indianapolis.

Even if they did make the playoffs by some miracle, do you really want them to? As a fan and reporter, I much prefer covering a winning team. It is far more fun to talk about any team when they are good, I honestly have no idea how people cover the Browns or Titans (although I bet alcohol is involved). That said, I have no faith in the Colts to win a playoff game, even at home.

This team always had flaws (namely the offensive line and lack of pass rush) but Luck had overcome those issues before. Hasselbeck, as hard as he played, just didn’t have enough to take the Colts to the next level.

The credit for Sunday’s win belongs with Frank Gore and the defense line, with an honorable mention to the Dolphins defenders who forgot (or don’t know) how to tackle.

Gore would need over 100 yards to break 1,000 for the season next week, but he’s already eclipsed the largest gains by a Colts running back since the regime change. Even at 32, Gore is a special back. Able to find small holes in the blocking and exploit them. He made more than a few defenders miss on Sunday and did an admirable job with mediocre blocking and no passing attack.

Gore’s season has been disappointing mainly for a number of reasons. For one, Luck went out and most opponents went with a “stop the run” first mentality against the Colts. Second, the Colts have no idea what their strengths are on offense (hint, it is not power running). They gladly set up in two tight end formations and practically told opponents where he was going. That’s great, if you have an outstanding offensive line (the Colts don’t). Over the past four years, the Colts are at their best when running out of a spread formation, which makes sense considering the vertical passing attack they’d created.

The defensive trio of rookie T.Y. McGill, Kendall Langford, and Robert Mathis combined for two sacks apiece. You can say that Ryan Tannehill should have gotten rid of the ball faster (partly true) and that the Dolphins line isn’t very good in pass protection (also true). But the Colts saw an advantage and exploited it, namely on stunt style pass rushes.

Next: Colts defeat Dolphins, 18-12

With Hasselbeck likely out, and Whitehurst possibly down with a sore hamstring (he came up limping late) the Colts could are looking for a new quarterback (reportedly Josh Freeman). It comes down to that, or hoping Luck can get his hands on some of those nanobubbles this week and heal up in time for Sunday.