What a difference a week makes for Colts, who crush sloppy Giants

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) greets his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning after their NFL football game in Indianapolis September 19, 2010.  REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

One of the most maddening aspects of the NFL is how teams can play like pure, unfiltered garbage one week and the next resemble a completely different unit.

We knew the Colts weren’t going to play as poorly as they did last Sunday all season. But this was a team that gave up 257 rushing yards a week ago in a lopsided 34-24 loss to Houston and also looked out of sync offensively. And with the Giants coming to town on Sunday night, Indy had cause for concern that its weaknesses would once again be exposed.

But in their 38-14 thrashing of the Giants in Week 2, the Colts resembled the team that played in the Super Bowl seven months ago. They were balanced offensively, they forced three turnovers and they ran the ball with conviction. Their run defense was still a bit of an issue (New York gained 120 yards on the ground), but Indy built such a big lead that the Giants had to scrap the run by halftime.

Speaking of the Giants, Tom Coughlin has to be concerned that his team has now turned the ball over seven times in two games. David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie didn’t do Eli Manning (13-of-24, 161 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) any favors, as they allowed Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney VIP access into New York’s pocket on damn near every play. Eli also lost a fumble right before halftime that led to a Colts’ touchdown and while he did throw for two scores, he spent most of the night looking completely befuddled on the sidelines.

Of course, he still had a better evening than Brandon Jacobs, who continues to watch his role in the Giants’ offense diminish and who somehow threw his helmet into the stands at one point during the game. According to ESPN sideline report Andrea Kramer, Jacobs was trying to throw his helmet either on the ground or into the Giants’ bench, yet somehow it wound up landing five rows into the stands. So either Jacobs intended to throw it that far or his helmet was made at NASA and can literally fly on its own.

The G-Men might be 1-1 on the new year, but it’s already time for Coughlin to tighten the reins. Dumb mistakes are killing this team and with the Cowboys off to a brutal start, they can’t be shooting themselves in the foot right now. Losing to the Colts is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Giants were never in it from the start. With a pissed off Titans team coming to town next week, New York better get their affairs in order quickly.

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Should the Colts be concerned about their defensive tackles?

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 29: Defensive lineman Daniel Muir #90 of the Indianapolis Colts on the bench in the game against the Houston Texans on November 29, 2009 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Colts won 35-27. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Colts and their potential issues at defensive tackle.

Same story, different year for the Colts.

Until Peyton Manning has to enlist the aid of walker to get onto the field on Sundays, the Colts will compete for a playoff berth every season. Their strength is their dynamic offense and the speed of their defense, but even a team with as many division titles as Indy has over the last decade has at least one weakness.

It’s seems like every year we’re talking about the Colts’ issues at the defensive tackle position. That’s because the team refuses to upgrade those spots and they decided to ignore the positions once again this offseason.

The projected starters this year are Daniel Muir and Antonio Johnson. On most teams, the duo would be fringe starters or excellent backups. On the Colts, they’re counted on to anchor a defense that primarily relies on speed and the pass-rush that Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis generate from their end positions.

The 25-year-old Johnson was a restricted free agent this past offseason and was brought back on a one-year, $1.684 million salary. He’s athletic for being 6’3 and 310 pounds, but he can be pushed backwards at the point of attack and he’s not consistent against the run.

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Should the Colts rest their starters?

One question that always pops up around this time of year is whether or not a team should rest its starters. This season, with two teams that have their sights on finishing 16-0, there is some added weight to that question.

The Saints have already come out and stated that they want to run the table and finish strong heading into the playoffs. So don’t expect Sean Payton to rest his starters over the next couple of weeks.

But the Colts are a different animal (no pun intended).

According to SI.com’s Peter King, Indianapolis will likely begin the process of resting its veterans on Thursday night at Jacksonville. Players dealing with small injuries like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will likely see some time off, and Peyton Manning usually rests in Week 17.

If the Colts do decide to rest their starters, it would be a wise decision. Being a part of history is nice, but the Patriots have taken some of the luster out of going 16-0 and besides, winning a championship is the only thing that matters in the end. What’s the point of a team going 16-0 and not winning the Super Bowl? (I just made a lot of Giants fans happy with that last line.)

When players convene for training camp every year, they usually don’t have a goal of going 16-0. Their goal is simple: Win the Super Bowl. Just because the Colts are undefeated, doesn’t mean players like Freeney or Mathis should risk their health. If they need time off, then they should get it before the postseason (the real season – the only that matters) starts.

If the players need it, should the Colts rest their starters?
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