Here is actuially a great column by Kravitz. He has never written anything nearly as good about the pacers.

http://www.indystar.com/articles/5/190928-8955-092.html



Will Colts defense ever catch up?


October 31, 2004


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It has come to this: Peyton Manning's offense is now playing against two defenses every week. The other team's defense, and its own -- the latter group being the tougher challenge.

What we have here is what many of us suspected we would have: A reeling, 4-3 Colts' team that not only has no appreciable defensive presence, but a wanna-be championship contender that must continue to play as if it can't count upon its defense to do more than dress properly.

That means going for it on fourth-and-whatever, no matter how misguided a decision it may be.

That means trying for two-point conversions on most occasions, even if The Book insists otherwise.

That means considering a return to the slower, more traditional style of huddling up and milking the clock, just to keep the Colts defense on the sidelines, where it can't do any further damage.

"No way," tight end Marcus Pollard said when the idea was broached after Indy's 45-35 loss to the Chiefs. "If we're scoring a bunch and scoring fast, we've got to keep scoring a bunch and scoring fast. Like when the Lakers had Magic running the point. They fast-breaked, got lay-ups, it was Showtime. That's how we are."

Except, well, Magic, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar aren't playing defense for the Colts. Although they're always welcome.

So tell me: You have a better idea? The Colts quarterback, Manning, just threw for 472 yards and five touchdowns and LOST. Think about that. You know how hard it is to have your quarterback put up those kinds of numbers and lose?

They are out of options. They have to play as if their defense is stuck in stadium traffic. They have to approach every game like they need 50 points to win.

Manning recognized pretty early Sunday his offense was going to need extraordinary measures to overcome both Kansas City's defense and his own.

Did you see him gesture angrily when Dungy decided to punt with the Colts trailing by 10 and fourth-and-six at the Indy 48 with more than 11 minutes remaining? Did that look like someone who trusted the defense to get him the ball back with a 10-point deficit?

Then came fourth-and-3 at the Chiefs' six-yard line, 5:31 remaining and the Colts down 10 points. In a two-score game, the smart move there was to take the easy three points. But no. Manning was going for it. The only thing that saved a truly bad decision was a great result. And even then

"I told the offense, {grave}Y'all stay right there (on the field),' " Manning said. "They were going to have to pull us off. I know he (Dungy) wouldn't have wanted to burn a time out."

Manning quickly wanted it made clear that Dungy gave the decision his blessing.

Anybody else buying that?

Still, it was understandable, and it showed the depth of the offense's desperation. They don't trust the defense. And they shouldn't trust the defense.

Nobody wants to be mean-spirited about this -- really -- and it's not lost on us that the Colts spent less on defense than any other NFL team. You pay K-Mart prices, you're not getting Fashion Mall quality. Bashing the Indy defense has taken on the feel of clubbing baby seals.

But it's impossible to ignore.

Their defense is a joke.

"I've never been involved in 590 yards of offense," said Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil, who saw lots of offense during his days in St. Louis. "I don't add that high."

So what's wrong with the defense?

Dungy gave an answer after Sunday's game that he knows, deep in his heart, is complete nonsense.

"I told the team in the locker room, I don't think it's talent and I don't think it's effort," Dungy said.

Then what is it? Coaching? Suddenly, the cover-2 doesn't work? No, it's not coaching, and Dungy knows that the way we all know that.

The problem is talent. It's always been a problem of talent. They couldn't stop anybody under Vic Fangio. They can't stop anybody under Dungy and Ron Meeks. The common denominator? It's team president Bill Polian, whose job it is to handle personnel.

The minute Polian decided he could get by without adding a single defensive free agent, the die was cast. They're too young because they didn't bring in any veteran help. They lack depth because they counted on rookies.

And injuries? Please. Everybody's got injuries. This defense wasn't any good when it was healthy, so that's no explanation.

Polian believed the group he had was going to be good enough. Clearly, painfully, they are not. And that leaves the Colts looking like a group that is once again going to waste another year -- maybe the last year -- of Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison.

Which is more than just a pity. It's a crime.

For the time being, the Colts are publicly saying all the right things about winning as a team and losing as a team. But these are human beings, and they're not blind to what's happening before them. It's going to be hard -- very hard -- to keep this from becoming a simmering, festering issue.

"We can't let that happen," Manning said.

All the Colts really wanted from a defense this season was to be ordinary. Now, they're three bus transfers away from ordinary.

Tough enough that Manning and Co. have to face everybody else's defense. For now on, they've also got to deal with their own.