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Friday December 9, 2005 6:29 pm

Tony Dungy’s Descision is on the Horizon




Posted by Edwin Soto Categories: Editorial, NFL

Tony Dungy  While many fans in Indianapolis are waiting for the Colts to complete their perfect season, the thought of one of their superstar players getting injured seems like a nightmare.  A nightmare that is on the back of Tony Dungy’s mind as he contemplates how he is going to coach this amazing team for the rest of the season.  Guest sports analyst, Frank Santangelo, gives us some insight on what the inner workings of today’s Colts coach after the jump.

To bench or not to bench?  This is the question set forth to Tony Dungy if his Indianapolis Colts continue their winning ways. The stuggle of, if and when should he rests his starters?  At what point is chasing history, and chasing perfection a detriment to his team and their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl?  The facts are simple; at 14-0 the Colts guarantee themselves a first round bye in the playoffs.  In their way however is a very good Jacksonville team whose defense already this season forced quarterback Peyton Manning to a 44.0 passer rating (his worst since 2001) and held the often called - and rightfully so - dominant Colts offense to only 10 points.

Beyond them are the Chargers, and a back in LT who has the ability to change the scope of a game with just one run.  Let’s give the Colts the respect they’ve earned in the past 13 weeks and assume they make it to 14-0 by the end of week 15.  Should they then sit Peyton, bench James and rest Harrison?  Well, why not?  The Colts are a team who values the off day.  Resting their stars for the last two games of the year gives them three weeks until they play another game.  That certainly will ensure fresh legs.  But while the time off is good, especially in a league where a hard tackle or an awkward bend of a leg can destroy a season, it can lead to worse problems.  Risk of injuries aside, by breaking up the starters Dungy might also break up the cohesiveness of this Indianapolis team that appears to be running like the proverbial well oiled machine.  Fresh legs and healthy players are all well and good, yet it’s a poor substitute for a connected team, confident they can fire on all cylinders.  Bad habits can plague a team this close to the postseason.  A second unit out there on the field can instill a slough of bad habits for the Colts with little time to rectify them.  With all this to consider its curious if “perfection” also should be on the minds of the Colts.       

How important is a perfect season?  If you win the Superbowl does it matter if you’re 17-2 or 16-3 as opposed to 19-0?  Maybe to some, but in week 9 of Indianapolis’ season we saw that to Peyton Manning records mean nothing on game day.  He went into New England 0-7 at Foxboro and led his team to a crushing 19-point victory over their nemesis.  So even at 16-0 there will be no “slam dunks”, no cruising to a championship just as at 0-7 there was no guarantee of failure.  What is it the Colts are chasing?  If you’re a fan of sports shows you’ve no doubt heard, ad nauseam about the ’72 Dolphins.  They went 17-0 with a Super Bowl victory.  This was quite a team, overwhelming each opponent in their way, much like the Colts of 2005.  The 1972 Dolphins were impressive.  The most impressive aspect was that they were undefeated, the most important however, was that they raised high the Lombardi trophy.

To bench or not to bench?  Maybe that’s not the question.  Maybe Dungy should be asking himself what gives his players the best chance at donning Super Bowl rings.  He is and so is the team.  It is us who are obsessed with “perfection”.  The Colts have their eyes on the prize, and realize no matter how storybook a season this has been; it’s only a happy ending with a “W” on February 5th in Detroit.

- Frank Santangelo

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