As a die hard Colts fan, I hadn’t expected much out of my team last year. Even though Head Coach Chuck Pagano had stressed to the 2012 team to not use or even think of the term “rebuilding,” the plain and simple fact is that the team had more reconstruction over the previous off-season than Michael Jackson’s nose. Still, that team managed to go 11-5 and make the playoffs, all while Andrew Luck was able to break to single season rookie passing record.
Over the off-season going into 2013, the Colts added players like LaRon Landry, Ricky Jean-Francois, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, household NFL names that were supposed to elevate the Colts to an even higher place among the NFL’s elite.
What happened was that while Landry has carried his load on defense this year, the other big free agents have been busts. Bradshaw got injured 3 games into the season. Heyward-Bey has hands made of stone and has only caught 26 receptions through 12 weeks for a mere 263 yards and one touchdown. And Jean-Francois does this type of embarrassing crap for getting his first sack of the season when his team is losing by 21 points:
Image property of Holdout Sports.
It also doesn’t help that within the first game of the season, the Colts lost tight end Dwayne Allen and starting running back Vick Ballard, two of the most important components of their offense from 2012. In fact, in the one game that they did play in 2013, Allen’s only reception was good for a 20 yard touchdown and Vick Ballard had 63 yards rushing on 13 attempts without even playing the whole game.
To replace Ballard, the Colts ended up trading away their first round draft pick in 2014 to bring in the 3rd overall pick from 2012, Trent Richardson, just in time for week 3 match up against the San Francisco 49ers. While it seemed to be a wise decision at first, especially with Ahmad Bradshaw getting injured in the same game, Richardson has been a clear and obvious disappointment since joining the team. His first carry in a Colts uniform was good for a one yard touchdown. Through 12 weeks, he has only scored one touchdown after that, rushing for only 392 yards on 134 attempts. Donald Brown, who was originally the 3rd string back at the beginning of the season, has nearly as many yards (324) on less than half the carries (57) as Richardson. He also has one more touchdown, and is the only Colts running back to score more than once in the same game this year. But Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton seems convinced to keep dooming the run game by starting Richardson over and over again, and trying to run the ball with him like the Colts are playing the PAC-12.
It also doesn’t help that our offensive line, the group of players that I would consider the most important to any team’s ultimate success, cannot open up running lanes OR protect Andrew Luck. In fact, if Luck wasn’t a mobile quarterback, I would not be surprised in the least to see him be sacked 10 times every game. If Manning was still in Indy and had to play behind this line, he would have likely been broke in half by now and his career would be over.
And to make matters worse, the Colts lost Reggie Wayne for the remainder of the season during the epic showdown against his former quarterback during week 7 against the Broncos. Not only is Wayne their most reliable weapon on offense, he’s arguably the best possession receiver in the entire NFL. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton has had to step up in Wayne’s absence, but with it only being his 2nd year in the NFL and (while he is fast) his small size making him a hard target for jump balls, Hilton has had one hell of a time being covered by the best cornerbacks of the opposing teams. LaVon Brazill, who seemed to be developing quickly last year, hasn’t had much playing time this year with only 5 catches off of 13 targets, so relying on him to help the offense in tough situations is also a longshot.
Still, after all that the Colts are 7-4 and have a pretty easy path to the playoffs. Not only are they the only team in their division through week 12 with a winning record, they have been listed as the number 2 seed through much of the season, meaning they are still in contention for a first round bye in the postseason. They were the first team to beat the Denver Broncos and the only team to beat the Seattle Seahawks (through 12 weeks), the two teams most heavily favored to reach the Super Bowl this year. They also dismantled the offensive 49ers by a score of 27-7, have succeeded in four 4th quarter comebacks throughout the season (each one seeming more ridiculous than the last), and have never lost back to back games with Andrew Luck at the helm… so far.
The problem is that the 4th quarter comebacks are getting really old. The team cannot afford to keep falling behind early and put the responsibility of coming out with a win on the shoulders of Luck’s heroics week in and week out. And it’s starting to show clearly by who they are losing to and how much they are losing by.
The Colts losses through week 12 are as follows:
To the Miami Dolphins, who had a strong start this year but are now 5-6, by a score of 24-20. Ok, that’s not that bad.
To the San Diego Chargers, who are also currently 5-6, but by a score of 9-19. The offense failed to get in the endzone, and giving up big plays and penalties at the most inopportune times doomed the chances for a comeback. A little bit worse.
To the St. Louis Rams, who only had 3 wins coming into this match up, by a ridiculous score of 38-8. It was 38-0 before the Colts put up any points at all, and the Rams were able to score on all three phases of the game; offense, defense, and special teams. It was a complete team failure, and there’s no way you can expect Luck to bring a team back from that.
And as of yesterday, to the Arizona Cardinals, by an ass-kicking of 40-11. It was supposed to be a great battle of the Colts against their interim head coach of last year, Bruce Arians, who actually won NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 for bringing the restart Colts to full throttle. Obviously, the student has not yet become the master, Arians knows his former player’s tendencies too well, and Indianapolis has some serious issues to confront moving forward.
So just who are the Indianapolis Colts? A team that will likely make the playoffs, and will likely stutter and fail once they get there. A team that is in desperate need of its play makers, all of whom seem to keep dropping like flies. A team that can beat a giant, and then get crushed by a child. Consistently inconsistent and in need of answers, they can only hope that their Luck doesn’t run out… or get destroyed due to horrible protection from their O-line.
Image property of the Indianapolis Colts.