What I think they’re thinking, or should be, in the headquarters of the four AFC South teams on Monday…
Great. Now we have to spin that scuffle between Brian Cushing and Antonio Smith and defend our effort in a miserable loss to Tennessee. We’re officially out of it. We can no longer talk about sticking with it and working through it. It’s time to admit we’ve been an architecturally flawed team from the start, and that while we can be an explosive offense we simply don’t have the talent or the mentality it takes to compete for a playoff spot. Change is coming. We don’t know on what scale, but a case could be made to tear it down and start over.
We’re back to where we are used to being, atop the division. But we are only assured of staying there if we win the final two. If we do, 10-6 isn’t such a dramatic slip and no one will want to come to Lucas Oil Stadium for a wild-card game. Still, we’ve got major issues. Peyton Manning can’t thrive without Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie. And after another concussion for Collie, we can’t expect him back. We’re a much less threatening offense without him. But we have to feel good about the shape of that win against the Jaguars.
We blew it. We just made too many mistakes against a good team in a tough place to play. We can blame that fourth-down misplay on a bad headset, but David Garrard should recognize the front and sneak it against a line with no one over center anyway, no? Jack Del Rio said before we beat Oakland that he’s still a Raiders fan. He’ll be a giant one this week, as a Raiders home win against the Colts is a crucial piece of help we need to get back into the playoff mix. When it comes to having control of our fate, we’re not finishers. But we’re not dead yet.
When you’ve lost six in a row, you relish a win no matter what kind of issues the other team has. Our playmakers showed up big, and we need to be a Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt-driven team. We don’t need to spend any time thinking of our slim playoff chances. A trip to Kansas City where we leave on Christmas Day is more than enough to hold our focus. The Vince Young arrival and departure as a sideline observer was silly. It really isn’t that hard to be present for the whole game in the background like every other guy in similar circumstances.