For the third year in a row, the Colts began their season 0-2. Though the Colts addressed team needs on the offensive line and defensive secondary in the NFL Draft, these rookies have yet to make a significant impact to the team.
Continuing a trend from last season, the Colts offense continues to get off to slow starts. In Week 1 against the Lions, the Colts put up just ten-points in the first half, all of which came in the second quarter. In Week 2, the Colts put up only six, scoring field goals in both quarters. Slow starts have plagued Indianapolis for years now. While the offense is often touted as explosive and full of potential, neither matter when the team must come back from enormous deficits in the second half.
The Colts slow start doomed them in Week 1, especially. Even after a connection between Andrew Luck and receiver Donte Moncrief with five seconds left in the first half, the Colts were still losing by 11 points at the break. Despite this offensive struggle in the first half, the Colts managed to surmount this deficit and take the lead in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Indianapolis’ fourth quarter offense finally looked functional and fluid, but it was too little too late as the Lions sealed their victory with a go-ahead field goal.
Meanwhile, the offensive line looks porous as usual, rendering the run-game virtually non-existent and putting Luck under overwhelming pressure. Combine this pressure with Luck’s double-sided play-extending sword and the Colts high-powered offense is a tiger without claws. Luck’s turnovers, one his fault, another the left tackle’s, accounted for 15 of Denver’s points. That was the difference in the game, folks.
The Colts could and should have defeated the Lions despite their offensive woes, if not for their deflating defensive performance in the final seconds. The Colts defensive secondary is notably depleted. Five key players have succumbed to injury, leaving players who were recently signed signed off of practice squads to start. For example, CB Rashaan Melvin started the game against the Broncos just 11 days after signing.
Facing a few injuries of their own, the Colts LB core lacks talent, as well.
The one bright spot on the Colts defense is the front-line, which should improve considerably once Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford return from knee injuries.
Replace the names, shuffle the injuries, and this has been a story told for years. The offense starts cold, the line can’t protect Luck, Luck himself gets careless with the ball. The defense can’t stop the run, does even worse against the pass, and relies entirely on blitzes to put pressure on opposing QBs. Heads rolled last year for similar problems. With Chuck Pagano under contract for four more years, just how long will other members of his staff last?
Skeptical of the future,
Sports Analytics and Business at Indiana University
AP Photo, Jack Dempsey