There have been some bad days in Colts history.
Last night was the worst.
When faced with an especially humiliating loss, there's a temptation to overreact.
We've seen the Colts get waxed before. Everyone remembers how important it was that the team didn't freak-out after the shellacking at the hands of the Jaguars in 2006.
When faced with a 62-7 beat down that was every bit as bad as the score indicated, however, it is impossible to overreact.
Seriously, what move could the front office make in this situation that could possibly be considered an overreaction? The loss Sunday night wasn't aberrant. It was the obvious culmination of everything that is wrong with the Colts coaching staff. You can blame players all day, but what I saw Sunday night was not about players as much as it was a coaching staff determined to do nothing to help them.
The Saints did not punt or commit a turnover until the 2:56 mark of the game. Awful, yes, and some people will say that's due to the lack of defensive talent. I ask you though: what's the difference between last night and the second half of the Super Bowl when the Colts managed to give up 18 points in three drives, all while forcing ONE third down the entire half? The only difference: the Indy offense was on the field more. If the Saints had had five drives that half, they might have scored 30 points.
Obviously, there's no way Larry Coyer should be employed. What I saw last night was the most completely collapse of a scheme in history. The Cover-2 is supposed to be simple and easy to execute, but Coyer has managed to make it so complicated that none of his defenders seem to have any idea what they are doing. When an offense destroys a defense that completely, there's nothing to say other than that the defensive coordinator completely failed to do his job. I've never seen a coach so completely fail since, well Coyer faced Peyton Manning in the playoffs in 2003 and 2004. Coyer has no idea what he's doing. None. He literally had no plan to stop the Saints. It's like he watched the film, shrugged his shoulders in defeat, and let his defense mill about aimlessly for a couple of hours. That's how bad his 'scheme' was.
Oh, but lest you think I'm going to lay all this at the feet of Larry Coyer (an easy and obvious scapegoat that no one has every liked), consider this next statement:
The Colts opened in a no-huddle.
Just let that simmer for a moment.
Someone on the Indianapolis Colts staff added these components up and came to this conclusion:
Curtis Painter+Dome road game+high powered offense on the other side of the field+a bottle of Jack Daniels=RUN A NO HUDDLE OFFENSE!
I have no words for my contempt for that plan. It's so asinine that quite literally no one else in football history would have tried it.
I've been saying for a few weeks now that Caldwell doesn't survive the season. I can't see him lasting past the bye week. The Colts probably won't fire him today, because they don't want to appear like they are overreacting to just one game. But, he's gone. Gone gone. If there's any justice in the world, Larry Coyer will be gone with him before the season is over.
Caldwell can wax on about not doing the little things right, but his team didn't do any thing right, little or big. They didn't take the snap from center. They didn't know what coverage they were in. They didn't hold on to the football. They didn't tackle. They literally failed at every possible area of football.
They had to know they were in a gun fight with the Saints, and their coaches were wielding sporks.
Please understand, I'm not writing this piece from a place of shock or anger. I absolutely expected a beat down. Here's what I wrote on Thursday:
"The Saints are an awful matchup though. The one thing N.O. does is the one thing Indy can't do: stop the pass. The Saints should never run. Not once. I'd pass 70 times against Indy. I'd just pass and pass and pass until the scoreboard runs out of room to hang the points."
So, this isn't some petulant rant based on the fact that the team let me down, or failed to cover 14 points costing me a few hundred quid. I expected the defense to be every bit as putrid as it was. I confess, I thought the offense would be a little more credible, but whatever. This was always the only possible conclusion of this game.
The Saints hang points on everyone. Go back and watch what they did to Green Bay Week One before you assume that no self respecting defense would get run like this. The Colts defense hasn't been the same since Foster and Nevis went down. But then again, players going down is a rite of passage in Indianapolis. It's not an excuse. This loss is about more than just a lack of talent on defense or a horrible game plan
There's a massive problem with this coaching staff. They are still in denial. In the pregame interview, Reggie Wayne said the team didn't know Peyton was out until the Friday before the Houston game.
EVERYONE IN TOWN KNEW PEYTON WAS DONE FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE TEAM DID.
Jim Irsay told us all on Twitter 7 days before that that Peyton wasn't going to be ready. I had MULTIPLE sources confirm he was hurt, hurt bad, and would probably be having surgery that week. How is it possible that the coaches and/or front office didn't tell the TEAM until 3 days before the game?
What is going on over there?
This coaching staff has been traipsing along blithely pretending that this team was still going to playoffs. They refused to install an offense suitable for Painter. They've refused to try and control the clock and slow down the tempo. It took them weeks to go heavy with two tight ends. Coyer continues to blitz despite not having the personnel to do it effectively. It's like they are completely oblivious to the state of their team.
Don't confuse what happened last night with "a lack of effort". I saw Colts out there playing their asses off. They were trying. TRYING DOESN'T MATTER IN PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL. That wasn't an 'embarrassing effort' by the players. It was an embarrassing effort by a coaching staff who hung them out to dry. Caldwell hasn't lost his players; he's lost his coaches. Paul Kuharsky mentioned 'factions' or 'dissent' last week. Well, duh. There's a bunch of people on West 56th who know they are about to get fired. There's going to be finger pointing and blame. Either Caldwell signed off on the insanity that was the Colts offensive and defensive game plans last night or he didn't have the cache to change them. Either way, he has to be fired.
The coaches are making their players look like fools. Even down 20-30 points last night, there were Colts still laying wood. There were guys still blocking. If the Colts had just quit last night, the result might have been more understandible.
62-7 was the Colts trying to win. Imagine the carnage if they had just laid down.
This team needs a new coaching staff (preferably one not run by Jim Tressel) and a new training staff. It needs a safety and pair of healthy defensive tackles. Even with that, they might give up 30 to the Saints. I can live with that. The Saints in New Orleans are a tough matchup for any team. But not forcing third downs? Never stopping the other team at all ever? That's well beyond reasonable.
It's impossible to overreact.