Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To Bench or not to Bench

This week against the New York Jets, Jim Caldwell, coach of the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, benched his starters in the second half to rest up for the playoffs. With homefield advantage wrapped up, the Colts had nothing to play for except for the undefeated season and history. Of course the Colts lost, creating a creating a big hubbub over history or health. Here are the generic arguments for and against benching your starters and the ESPN versions.


  • Allows dinged up players to rest for the playoffs
  • Prevents disastrous injury to key starter
  • ESPN Column For


However, the Colts situation provides some interesting side notes. Peyton Manning has never missed a start in his career, and has only missed one snap ever due to injury. Meanwhile, Anthony Gonzalez, the #2 WR going into the year, tore up his knee in week 1 without even being touched.

The Colts recent playoff history itself is ripe with contradictions to these arguments. In 2008 and 2007, they finished the seasons on long winning streaks, but rested their starters in the last weeks, only to lose in their first playoff game. 2005 and 2004 were similar situations, either 8 game winning streaks or starting 13-0, but neither year did they get to the AFC Championship game after resting their starters in the last week. The exception was in 2006, which after starting 9-0, the Colts stumbled down the stretch and had to win to secure the 3rd seed, in route to their Super Bowl victory.

Therefore, looking at Indy’s past they should have played it out, but the recent undefeated run by the Patriots proves an example otherwise. New England went for the undefeated season and were a miracle catch away from going 19-0, but will just be known as a Super Bowl runner up. Speaking of Tom Brady, even if Caldwell is proven right, and Indy wins the Super Bowl, Brady will still have 3 Super Bowls to Peyton’s 2. However, if they went undefeated, Peyton could claim something pretty boy Brady cannot, and have a piece of history with the ’72 Dolphins.

At least my fantasy team didn't suffer for it this year.

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