You might remember I was pretty down on the Colts after that loss to the Dolphins after not being particularly high on them in the first place. I was awfully high on the 49ers, even if I didn’t put it here. At the risk of being awfully knee-jerk, I’ve made a complete 180.
First off, I haven’t addressed the trade here yet, so I suppose I should do that. I thought it was a nice pick up, and not a bad risk given that the Colts fully expect to be back in the playoffs. Their first round pick will not, if things go according to plan, be particularly high. As has been covered to death, Trent Richardson has not been the kind of back you might expect if you were the Browns spending the third overall pick on him. To that end, and to the end that apparently most in the Browns’ new regime didn’t think he was a good fit, getting much of anything in return can be counted as a win for Cleveland. Especially if the Colts look more like the team that lost to the Dolphins and squeaked out a win against the Raiders, which is what the Browns were looking at at the time. I’m sure they’re hoping this turns into a higher pick than the Colts are planning on.
I don’t disagree with the Browns here at all, and they might still turn out to be the “winners” of this trade in the long run. But make no mistake. Even if Richardson doesn’t turn out to be Adrian Peterson 2.0, he’s still a pretty good back. Maybe not as explosive as you’d like, but he’s certainly a back you can depend on. Something that the Colts have not really had since Edgerrin James, honestly. And, as certain YouTube clips highlight, there was a bit of a blocking deficiency, especially with Vick Ballard out. If Ahmad Bradshaw looks anything like he did yesterday for the rest of the season, the Colts are going to have an awfully solid rotation at running back and quite possibly the kind of running game that can chew up the clock after they’ve hopefully built a lead. Which, you know, has been a problem. The Miami game made pretty clear what the Colts lacked. They had offensive firepower, but if your passing game goes cold (as they are wont to do), you’re not going to use much clock. And you certainly don’t want a Colts defense to try to kill the clock for you. This gives the much sought after balance for Colts and will certainly make them a bigger threat in a down AFC.
On the other side of things, maybe the 49ers aren’t quite the team we thought they were. We thought they were pretty darned good with the steady hand of Alex Smith guiding them and apparently a defense to match. But when somebody like Colin Kaepernick takes the reins? Everybody was falling over themselves to anoint him the greatest quarterback ever, with his balance of explosiveness and passing ability. Enough to let Smith finally get out of town, as had been threatened for years. Half a season of Kaepernick was all we needed to see. And after watching him and Anquan Boldin (who the Ravens I’m sure regret losing now) carve up the Packers, you thought maybe they had a point. But, just like hotshot rookies in baseball, the tape will catch up with you. You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again, because professionals will figure it out. After watching the 49ers heavily struggle in back to back weeks now against the Seahawks and Colts, maybe we’ve reached the metaphorical second time through the order. This isn’t to say that Kaepernick is done and not a good quarterback, or even that he can’t right the ship and guide San Francisco back to the Super Bowl. But if he (and his hotshot new-ish coach) can’t make the necessary adjustments and refinements, well, the Bay Area will be longing for the Alex Smith days.
Looking ahead, the Colts will go down to Jacksonville next week. On paper, this isn’t a contest, but you know, of all the division teams, it seems Jacksonville has the most fluky things to happen with the Colts. And it always seems to break the Jaguars way. With a big game against the Seahawks coming up* after that and this big win this past week, this has trap game written all over it. It seems kind of hard to believe you would get trap games in football, with the playing once a week and all. But, gosh, doesn’t it just feel that way? Here’s to hoping the team will stay focused and give their best effort against a lesser team.
*Which I will be at.
On the baseball front, it seems the Pirate dream has died a little bit, mostly thanks to scheduling. It looks to be a pretty sure bet right now the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be in the play-in game thanks to matching up both last weekend and this coming weekend. While they could certainly pick up two games playing the Cubs to start the week, it sure seems like a longshot to sweep the Reds in Cincinnati with those games meaning so much. And, very unfortunately, with the Reds hosting the games this weekend, it also seems likely that the playoff game would also be played in Cincinnati. That said, it’s not as if Pittsburgh has been buried on the road this year. While I was certainly hoping for a division crown, I’ll still be plenty of excited for that game. Even if baseball should never, ever have one arbitrary game deciding anything.