Friday, October 9, 2015

The cure for what ails 'em

Sooo, maybe it's time to go all nursing home on this and pick up Matt Hasselbeck for the fantasy team.

OK. So not really.

Still, Hasselbeck -- who is not older than dirt, but was in the same graduating class -- is now 2-0 in relief of Andrew Luck, and he has become a Rosetta Stone of sorts for how the Indianapolis Colts ought to proceed from here on out. You want to keep Luck upright, when he comes back from his dinged wing?

Do what the Colts are having Hasselbeck do.

Which is, throwing a lot of underneath stuff off short drops and quick releases, the better to offset the Colts' screen-door offensive line and keep the pass rush off the front step.  Spread the field. Move the ball around. Make opponents defend more real estate, thereby opening up running lanes for Frank Gore that the Screen Doors can't open on their own.

And, yes, that does sound a lot like what the hated Patriots do. Well, so what? When's the last time someone landed a really good shot on Tom Brady?

It may not be the perfect system, and it may not be what offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wants to do. But you can't argue with the results. The Colts are 3-2 after starting 0-2, and Hasselbeck's QB'ed two of the three wins. Whatever this is, it's working.

Last night it kept J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Houston Texan swarm out of Hasselbeck's kitchen, and the Colts won the roadie, 27-20. Hasselbeck completed 18-of-29 passes for 213 yards and two scores, with no picks. More to the point, he was hit only three times.

He also averaged a modest 11.8 yards per reception, while completing passes to eight different receivers. Three tight ends caught four balls among them. And Andre Johnson, another ancient, finally awoke, catching six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns against his former team.

For those not inclined to do the math, that was about 12 yards a catch. And that's pretty much perfect.

All of that opened up some running lanes for Gore -- yet another oldtimer -- who tottered his way to 98 yards on 22 carries. Throw in 87-year-old Adam Vinatieri's two field goals, and it was a big night for the back-in-my-day crowd. Word has it the Social Security checks even cleared.

So what happens next?

I can tell you what should happen: Nothing.

When Luck comes back -- and that may or may not be anytime soon, given the news reports that he's got a partial separation of his throwing shoulder -- the Colts should continue to play as if it's still Hasselbeck taking the snaps. It will protect Luck, and it will result in Ws.

 And isn't that the goal here?

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