What We Learned: Chiefs at Colts

WR Pierre Garçon (Scott Boehm/Getty)

The Colts dug deep and pulled out a tough win at home. Brad Keller takes a look at what we learned in Week 5.

To paraphrase Annette Funicello, a win does not have to be perfect to be wonderful: In a game where Peyton Manning was out of sync with his receivers and was out of sync in general, Joseph Addai went down with an injury, and the run defense jumped out of position frequently early, the Colts still came away with a victory.

It wasn't pretty, the Chiefs did their part to lose the game — particularly after the interception, when they couldn't seem to catch the ball — but Indianapolis was able to pull away against a team that they weren't supposed to let hang around.  Jim Caldwell deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team together after a tough loss and holding them together on Sunday.  He still should've called timeout towards the end of the second half with Kansas City trying to run the clock out in order to give Manning and company another shot, but Antoine Bethea bailed him out by forcing a fumble on the next play.

These two teams may see each other again: Manning struggled in part because he was having trouble getting his timing down with the new combination on offense since Pierre Garcon was back in the lineup, but he also struggled because this is a very talented young defense.  The team needs to find something in the passing game on offense, but the New York Jets, arguably, were at about the same level towards the beginning of the season in 2009 and wound up playing the Colts in the AFC Championship game.

This isn't a prediction, but with the Broncos struggling, the Chargers getting out of the gate slowly, and the Raiders being the Raiders, Kansas City could win the division.  Their special teams acumen and tough, physical defense will be a big asset for them in the playoffs.

Third and two:  That down and distance was a major point of consternation for the Colts and their fans headed into the season.  It appears as though Indianapolis has responded, at least for one game.  They got two first downs on running plays and another on a passing play in those situations.

The key there is that they ran when they wanted to and passed to change it up.  They weren't afraid of trying to gain two yards by running the ball on third down and that gave them the ability to pass for a first down later in the game.  That is an important paradigm shift and will be important moving forward, particularly if they are able to make it to the postseason.

Jerry Hughes is in trouble:  He was inactive on Sunday and was a healthy scratch for a game in which the Colts had a number of banged-up alternatives.  He failed to show anything in the preseason and obviously hasn't shown the coaches much in practice thus far this season.

Mike Pollak is helping to improve Bill Polian's track record on first choices the past few years, but his last big hit was Addai in 2006.  Polian has a strong track record in the last five drafts overall, but when the old guard of Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Dallas Clark retires, the cabinet is not necessarily overstocked. 

"Not something you see very often from the Colts": Announcer Dan Dierdorf said that about the dropped passes the Indianapolis receivers were struggling with early on. It's true that, historically, the dropped passes have not been an issue for the team. The problem in 2010 is that that's the second time I've heard an announcer say that dropped passes are not something you see very often from the Colts this season.

It may have been Dierdorf who said it when several pass catchers had a bad case of the dropsies against Houston, but I'm not sure. This is an offense that runs on efficiency and they cannot afford mental errors like dropped passes to operate at maximum effectiveness.

Left guard is still an issue: With a road game next week, it remains to be seen whether or not Jamey Richard will be the right answer.  Kyle DeVan did a better job in pass protection and with the silent count on the road against the Broncos in Week 4.&

The team needs to make a decision on the future of the position for the balance of the season and DeVan appears to be the better man for the job.  They won't be able to start DeVan on the road and Richard at home, since their offense and their protection schemes are too complicated and predicated too much on execution and timing.

Next man up: Mike Hart may get the start next Sunday night against the Redskins with Addai and Donald Brown ailing. That leaves Indianapolis perilously thin at the position and Washington has a solid pass defense. Hart will need to step up and play at least as well as he did in the second half of Sunday's game. He may have it in him, but he has yet to prove that he can carry the load for a full game. That means that Manning will need to throw the ball more than the Colts would like.

Pat McAfee just needs to get that first punt out of the way: The first punt of the game for McAfee so far this season has each time been his worst.  He did boom the ball 58 yards in his first of two punts against the Chiefs, but he kicked it out of the end zone and netted 38 yards on the kick.  His second punt netted 47 yards and was more successful.  Perhaps he can visualize his last punt in warmups as his first punt of the game and just shank it to get it out of his system.


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