Well, at least the Pacers won fairly easily. The Colts? It wasn’t so pretty.
That said, I don’t feel it was as lopsided as the score would suggest. There were chances for the Colts to mount a comeback. That, though, is just papering over the holes. The offense certainly lacked some depth, but that was to be expected when you lose somebody of Reggie Wayne’s caliber. And when you lose two out of three of your top running backs, leaving you to depend on a desperate trade and a back that was nearly run out of town and known mostly as GD Donald.* There was also the unfortunate transformation of Andrew Luck returning to rookie form in the playoffs. Fourteen turnovers all season, good for fewest in the league, turned into eight over two games. True, a fair number of those interceptions can be chalked up to bad luck or plainly the receivers’ fault. Maybe even most. But Luck still had more than his fair share.
*We’ll see after the benefit of a full offseason with the team, but so far, Trent Richardson looks like quite the bust. Donald Brown, though, to his credit, made everybody remember why we all liked him so much once upon a time.
All that said, I think we can all agree the offense is the least of the team’s problems. Sure, it would be nice to have a dependable running game and use the power game that Pep Hamilton assured us was going to be this team’s identity.* And upgrading the offensive line, or at least getting them healthy, would certainly help that. But, good Lord, it doesn’t matter how many points you put on the board when your defense gives sieves a bad name.
*Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.
Read around a little bit. You won’t have to try too hard to see Indy’s secondary ridiculed, and for good reason. The Colts have not had good run defense since I’ve been paying attention.* At this point, there only players I absolutely need to see back are Robert Mathis and Jerrell Freeman.** Antoine Bethea isn’t bad, but I don’t feel like I would particularly miss him. Same for Vontae Davis, except when he clearly wasn’t playing 100% and actively hurting the team. Or, well, he would have been, if the Colts had any other viable option. News flash: they don’t.
*They pulled it together for literally four games for the 2006 season. Those games just happened to be played in 2007 for the playoffs and Super Bowl. And, hey, what do you know, the Colts won the whole thing that year. Coincidence?
**Shout out for D3!
It’s the same story every year. I thought maybe things would improve after Bill Polian left, but I’m still waiting. The Colts have not taken defense seriously, and it shows. Sure, all those points on the board are nice and sell a lot of tickets and garner a lot of interest. But even in this era of heightened concussion awareness and the rule changes that go along with it, defense still wins championships. We saw it during the Manning-era here, and we’re starting to see it with the Luck-era. You just don’t outscore people in the playoffs. It doesn’t work when you play playoff caliber teams every week, which, when you get to the playoffs, surprisingly to Colts management,* are the only teams you play. Hiring Jim Caldwell and Chuck Pagano was supposed to help this. And maybe it will. But so far, the results are just looking like the same old, same old. Even losing to the same old opponent in New England.
*This is true for some other teams, too, but we’re focusing on the Colts today.
Even so, I swear, one of these days the Colts are going to learn how to effectively stop a run for most of a season. They just have to. And when they do, they will become a truly dangerous team. We saw a flash of it for Super Bowl XLI, and what a well-timed flash it was. For now, though, I guess I’m a Bronco fan.