Remember never to be too high on a team after they win or too low after a loss. It’s just one game, with an early chance at redemption on Thursday. And now the bad news:
Watching this game, as with many of the Colts’ first halves, one can’t help but to wonder what this team’s film sessions are like. They talked about the Rams’ pass rush. Did they devise any ways to slow it down? Did they add any wrinkles to the offense that work against the opposition’s weaknesses, get some safety help against the Rams’ speedy rookie receiver, or adjust when things weren’t going right? And so on.
Indianapolis repeatedly appeared to treat their weaknesses as strengths: the shaky interior line blocking, kick returns, little help for the tackles against two great edge rushers, a struggling cornerback on an island against a deep threat. Certainly, with anything, there’s more than meets the eye, but today’s game didn’t pass the eye test.
Later in the game, they did take advantage of the Rams prevent coverage for an impressive scoring drive in the 3rd quarter, but only after a slew of mistakes and bad breaks got them to that point – and only after throwing a pick as they tried to force it deep against the same coverage.
The Colts’ first drive of the game ended when Rams DE Robert Quinn got to Andrew Luck almost as soon as he caught the snap for a fumble. Chris Long recovered and took it to the end zone. 7-0 Rams
Here are the Colts’ drives:
Fumble/TD, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt
Can’t we get something besides punts???
Sorry I said anything.
Touchdown? Okay, probably not a comeback in the making, but…screw sensibility, this is comeback time. Get ready to witness history…..
Turnover on downs, Interception, Interception, End of game. It wasn’t comeback time.
When it goes this wrong, everyone contributes to the debacle.
- The punt coverage
- David Reed being David Reed (take a knee, buddy)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey’s huge third down drop
- T.Y. Hilton tripping on a likely touchdown catch
- Luck’s overthrows
- Throwing into double coverage
- Vontae Davis looking strangely slow
- (Insert any name or phase of the game here)
Two things stood out to me early on. First, late in the opening quarter, down by just a touchdown, the Colts defense took advantage of a mistake by the Rams, a botched handoff, and Cassius Vaughn recovered the fumble (Antoine Bethea seemed to kind of co-recover it as well). Colts ball at their own 8 – the only poor field position that wasn’t a direct result of a kick return (again, take a knee, buddy).
This could have been a pivotal point in the game. The Colts came out in their power formation. Incomplete, incomplete, 3rd and 10 at the 8-yard line. Pep Hamilton dialed up a…draw to fullback Stanley Havili. Havili got a yard. On third and long, no matter how terrible your field position is, if you have an elite quarterback, you put the ball in his hands. That one-yard run was a white flag. It told the offense, “We don’t trust you.” That’s a more powerful message than people might realize.
A potential pivotal moment wasted. To that point, the defense had kept Indianapolis in the game with a Herculean effort. After that punt, the wheels came off. St. Louis’s next drive went for a touchdown, and the route, though we didn’t realize it yet, was on.
The Colts followed up with a somewhat better drive, but had to punt again. Rams rookie Tavon Austin waved his teammates away from the ball as it bounced toward the endzone. Indy’s punt unit seemed to think he was waving for a fair catch. He was not. 98 yards. Touchdown. 21-0 Rams.
The other thing that stood out was Chuck Pagano’s decision not to call any timeouts to try to get the ball back near the end of the first half. St. Louis had the ball with 3:21 left, and the Colts coaches elected to allow them to run out the clock instead of trying for one more possession. To Pagano’s credit, he was down 28-0, but it’s difficult to abide by not trying to win at all times.
The second half began with some hope before a quick 81-yard TD to Austin. 35-0.The Colts came out in a no-huddle, but little changed other than more turnovers and more conservative play calling from St. Louis.
Players and coaches will talk about having a short memory after the loss. There are, however, several things about this one they should remember. They need to remember what went wrong. They need to remember that it’s not always about executing the play better. It’s also about finding the best play in the first place – setting up the players for success. These guys, despite what fans and observers see at times, are professionals. They won’t forget what happened today.
A few quick notes:
- Robert Mathis now has 13.5 sacks. He tried to carry the team in the first half but had little help.
- It is starting to hurt more and more that the Colts didn’t draft a wide receiver this year. They passed on Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Hopkins. Outside of Hilton, who didn’t have a great game, no one has stepped up.
- Indy’s running backs had 10 carries for 1 yard. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. (Correction: 9 carries for 2 yards. I still don't want to talk about it - MD)
- Pat McAfee, who played well, didn't have to punt in the second half. Normally, that would be a good thing.
- Donald Brown, despite a lousy day rushing, overcame bad screen blocking for a couple impressive plays, including his 13-yard touchdown with Rams defenders everywhere.
- Thank goodness this wasn’t an AFC South game (h/t reader Chip Bennett).
It was only one game. People want to crown a team after a great win and dismiss them after a bad loss. This was about as total a defeat as we’ve seen in recent years, but it’s not the end of the world.
There are serious issues and weaknesses they need to address, and they have just four days to figure it out. Thursday night the Colts travel to Nashville to take on the Titans, who are coming off their shocking loss to the Jaguars. Any given Sunday, indeed.
The FOs stubbornness for not surrounding Luck with an absolute Berlin-wall of an offensive line is absolute insanity. This could turn into a tome-length post, so suffice to say I believe it all start w/that - a protected QB with time to throw, holes for RBs to run through, etc.
It's after a loss like this one (plus the 1H of the Texans game) that I start to wonder about the bigger picture. We will most likely win the division. But that gives me no more confidence in this team than discussing how the playoffs are a "crapshoot". I sense an impending 1-and-done and cries of "he can't win the big one ..." ... "he's a great regular season QB, but ...". Sound familar?
Speaking of familiar, does anyone else feel as bad for Peyton that he's essentially stuck on what is quickly looking like the mid 2000 Colts? Lots of receiving talent, soft defense, questionable O-line. Not that I'd trade the success of that Colts era, but man, as long as we got/get our W against the Broncos, I was hoping he'd have an easier ride.
Not gonna pretend that the Colts did anything right with any consistency yesterday, and I know that with the way they played there was no way to win that game. However, did anybody else want to destroy something when a flag was thrown for DPI on the Fleener target on 3rd down, forcing a punt when it was already 14-0. Then they said there was no penalty and the announcers even say it looks like contact was made before the ball arrived??? The subsequent Rams return is when I had a feeling we weren't coming back to win. Sad face.
This was a fluke game, where everything that could go wrong, did; and every weakness that could be exploited, was. It was a reminder that "Any Given Sunday" is true. The biggest takeaway is that the coaches need to do a better job of preparing the team, and of putting the team in position to cover its weaknesses and accentuate its strengths.
I'm already moving on. Bring on the Titans. Two wins over the Titans, and the Colts win the division. HFA/first round bye might be out of the picture, but the Colts can stay ahead of the AFC North winner for the #3 seed. Bring on 2006.
Hi all, I'm migrating here from Stampede Blue where there is just too much negativity (criticism is fine, but there is little analysis, just bashing) anymore.
Anyways, I'm a displaced fan banished to California since 2005. Love the Colts.
As bad as today was, the game was simply lost on 4 bad plays by the good guys.
1. Strip sack TD.
2. Austin PR TD - crazy play. Not heads up football at all by Colts and total credit to Rams.
3. Austin Pass TD 1 - big play (55+ yd)
4. Austin Pass TD 2 - big play (80 yd)
Those four plays were definitely bad breakdowns, but we were far from dominated. Eliminate two of the and don't throw all the picks, and we need up back in the game late.
But it sure did feel like dominance. Because it was big plays, it seemed like all they had to do was touch the ball and they were going to score. Cannot wait until Thursday!
Here's my dollop of optimism for the week: Our turnover fortunes were not sustainable--Luck was way too safe (statistically speaking) with the ball and our lost fumbles were also crazy low. I'd rather have that "market correction" all at once in a giant loss to an NFC foe than lose two balls per game over three AFC games and lose two or all three of them by 1 pt each. (The playoff seeding table doesn't give a rat's ass whom you lost to or by how much (until tiebreaker time)--2 or 3 close AFC losses are much worse in that regard than one blowout loss to STL.
We have three losses, Cin has 4 (and one more vs the AFC) so we're good there. NE has to lose to an AFC team, like DEN and we'd be right back in the #2 seed driver's seat.
But this DOES put pressure on us to win vs KC and CIN. A tall order for the team that beat DEN and SEA and SF, and an even taller order for the team that lost to SD and STL....
At some later point I'll opine on the run game, or the pass/run ratio.... but this reminds me of the 41-0 playoff loss to the Jets in 2002. (Read Nate's write-up in Blue Blood) A game where absolutely everything went wrong. Except maybe gravity--I think that still worked as it should. And if you recall, from the ashes of that game, without changing a lot of players or schemes, the Colts had a pretty good run from 2003-2009.
IMHO DHB is not the receiver to step into Reggie's role. On a blitz, Reggie breaks off his route with his hands ready in the classic thumbs and index finger "picture frame" position. It screams "I am ready, send the ball in hard and fast" you can count on me.
DHB just is not a sound enough player to be the hot route man. His arms and hands are all over the place. Luck has to worry that throw the ball too hard and it will only bounce off DHB's body or sail through his arms for a pick six. If Luck holds back zinging the ball, DBs will jump the route.
Rather see Whalen get a shot. He does not have Austin Collie's speed but like him he seems tp have the better ball catching fundamentals. It is more important that Luck trusts his hot route man.
I just want to know:
1. Why Luck was so inaccurate today. He was sailing everything until the 3rd quarter, and by that time there was no time to catch up. He's getting inaccurate.
2. Why Vontae Davis was so bad today. I'm starting to wonder if he had some undisclosed injury or something.
For once, I don't think the scheme is what cost the game today. After all, they DID come out in a passing hurry-up offense in the first quarter, it's just that this was the day Luck channeled his inner Grossman and sailed everything over his receivers heads. If anything, I'm actually worried that today will be used as an argument by some to NOT let the passing game out any more. It was a bad time for that aspect of Luck's talent to not show up, because today was the day and St. Louis was the team against which to let that shine. But unfortunately, egg laid.
An that offensive line... I know everyone's stuck with it because nothing can be changed this late in the season. But next year this team MUST bring in some new line talent, or Luck's career will end up being cut short.
What up with that? Redding giving a pep talk to the team at the start of the second -half down 28-0? I never saw Davis play that bad, Austin schooled him and the whole secondary. I don't blame Trent, he has no line in front of him to open up holes for him to go through.You will have to experiment with that line, and find a combination that works, even if you have to sit Satele, McGlynn, and Thornton. Hilton cost the colts a touchdown falling down, when nobody touched him. They have three days to figure it out for the next game. How puzzled did Pagano and PEP look today?
So what I hope is that this helps the team, especially Pep, his first year as a OC in the NFL, this should be a learning experience, glad to see a couple more screens this game than the previous ones, but man it seemed like we had very few short passes, or crossing routes, everything was deep, and Luck was struggling deep way too often for us to continue to try and milk that cow.
Honestly we had a bunch of bad breaks this game, that all had an affect on the way this game went... this should have been one we won, but oh well now we have to make it happen and solidify a playoff spot.
Having watched the game it was really the first total loss I've seen them experience. By that I mean, it's not like Luck couldn't score quickly enough to cover for a bad defense (allowing the opponent to score). It's not that the Offense couldn't score and so the D stepped up and kept the opponent from scoring (so that Vinatieri could kick field goals to win). It wasn't that the short game was working and not the long game. Or just that special teams were terrible.
It sure seemed like everything went bad. Dumb decisions to run the ball out of the end zone, Luck getting really clobbered again and again (he looked dazed toward the end of the game), no running lanes, passes dropped, Hilton falling down in the middle of the field. Just terrible. Luck wasn't even angry at the end. He just looked sad. Some inexplicable bad throws from him, likely due to being in the cross-hairs of someone about to sack him each time he threw.
Only bright spots were, like you said, Donald Brown running really hard and Mathis.
I saw the Rams play the Titans last week and thought "these guys are really really good!" - so I worried that they would put up quite the fight but that we would top them, especially at home.
I'm not sure about firing everyone, but something has got to change or, like the announcers said, we're either not going to make it to the playoffs, or we're going to be one and done again. I had not heard the crowd boo like this in a long long time. I hope the coaches and players heard it. And God bless Redding for being so angry.
(by the way, it's spelled "rout" not "route") :)
At least the Titans lost to the Jaguars?
I didn't watch the game, but it obviously was a crappy, crappy loss. I just wish there was something we could do to convince Pagano/Hamilton/et al to let Luck loose, and to stop thinking that we have SF's offensive line. We don't! Makes me wish we had the guts to hire someone like Trestman instead of Pagano. I love Pagano as a person, but let's be honest: if he didn't have Luck to bail him out so often, he'd be worrying about his job.
Also, the fact that we have a defensive head coach and our defense was so horrendous against an offense that's struggled to score even 16 points, regardless of their QB, is disturbing.
That being said, the Colts are still in the lead in the division and have a good shot to take it. Hopefully this game was the equivalent of the Jaguars debacle in 2006.
K, rant over. Sorry :(.
@jdkappel I'm pretty sure that's when I punched my Colts Super Bowl rug hanging on the wall behind me.
@DISPLACED_COLTS_FAN How the hell often does a guy return a punt from his own 2? That was insane and entirely unpredictable. Which probably means the Colts assumed it would be downed or a touchback and pulled their feet of the gas just enough to allow a 98 yard return. (God, it hurt to type that)
The strip-sack-fum-TD is also a pretty uncommon play. Just guessing, but I say out of hundreds of NFL games each year, it happens maybe twice a year, three times? And usually inside the ten, not from midfield. Those freak plays were ones the Colts allowed to happen, so let's not pretend they didn't, but they are truly once-a-season plays and they severely affected the outcome. But they're behind the team now, along with a torrent of turnovers, in a loss to an insignificant NFC opponent. If this happened in the Cin or KC game we'd be in much worse shape in terms of tie-breakers, H2H, AFC record, etc.
Most other teams with which Colts are competing for a playoff berth or possible bye lost except the Pats. We're really just behind the Pats and KC right now in the playoff hierarchy--ahead of DEN because they're a WC team for now, ahead of CIN based on losses and AFC losses.
This was our 2006 loss to Jacksonville all over--late season, unworthy opponent, totally dominated. That's the message the team needs to hear though only four guys are left from that team--87, 98, 4, and 41. Time to make the REST of this season like the rest of 2006.
@DISPLACED_COLTS_FAN Thanks for reading. In support of what you said, here's a stat that probably should've been included: Clemens only completed nine passes. Nine. Not the stats of domination. Just some broken plays against a team that was playing very badly.
I do think Pep has been a little stubborn with the schemes. Hopefully, he'll learn from this game.
@Bobman1 Yeah, sometimes it just all goes wrong.
@thellamajockey I'm not convinced Whalen is quick enough to get open.
@thellamajockey Well and DHB continues to have the same problem with a ball thrown by Luck with "pepper". DHB tries to catch it in his chest, and it promptly bounces off his chest and into the ground. He needs to hold his hands out to catch the ball.
@AJ_ Good point AJ. I actually liked some of the play calls on that first drive. I'm starting to wonder if Luck is as much the reason for their slow starts as Pep is.
@AJ_ I think the protection issues affected his accuracy quite a bit. Then, when they started getting it sorted out a little better, either nobody was open or Luck was having trouble making reads. I think it was more of the former. Without Reggie, this offense looks lost. We might really be missing that first round pick this April.
@unitas19 I think it was a total collapse game. We've been lucky not to see too many of those. Thursday night's going to be interesting. Crossing my fingers for a huge bounce back
@paulcareyjr Not sure it was just bad breaks. But i get your point. And I'm a bit worried because I think all the hits on Luck are starting to affect him.
@TheGreatMisdirect I think they did try to let him loose quite a bit, but he just didn't play well. Nothing went right for them. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you didn't have to sit through the game. It wasn't a fun one to watch (although, objectively, it was kind of fun watching Austin go crazy).
I may have failed to clearly communicate this, but I agree with you. They were flukey plays. A lot of them very rapidly. Take away one, maybe two and we are in the running for another doable comeback. The last few drives carry much less pressure and Luck probably doesn't turn the ball over like that if we have a real chance of winning. We are not a bad team. A division winning team is a good team. But we are suffering badly from the injuries.
I didn't watch the Rams/Texans game, but I recall it having much the same flavor. I believe there was a ST TD and definitely was a pick 6. Rams had like 200 yards and dominated the texans on the scoreboard. Fisher knows the AFC south and he has shown that this year.
Agreed on the 9 completed passes. I saw that stat later. Also, we held their so-called stud back to something like 67 yards on 27 carries. 9 completions and 67 yards rushing is a dominating performance. Unless you have a handful of critical breakdown leading to big plays. And that was the story of that game. I think this is a team of overachievers with an OC that has a lot to learn about adapting in the NFL. They'll get better in successive seasons,
But yesterday made me really feel like we will be one and done. Losing all the O starters is really taking its toll. And D Thomas may have been the biggest loss in retrospect (though an argument could be made for any of the others).
DHB just isn't good and the other receivers lack the 'it' that makes a receiver special. Nobody fears them.
And what is up with V Davis? After an excellent performance against the Broncos, he has taken the last two games off.
This is a good team, but there are just maybe one too many weak areas to overcome for them to be a true contender. We cannot pretend this is the same team that beat San Fran. Nor the same team that best Seattle and Denver. Attrition has hurt us, badly.
@buymymonkey @thellamajockey this is his biggest problem, forget the bad route running, dude learn to catch with your hands or else you will never be consistent... If I were a coach I would tell him to catch with his hands on every pass, or atleast attempt to and if he doesn't, he owes me a lap on the spot, enough is enough....
@buymymonkey @thellamajockey I felt like DHB was going to be a bigger, stronger version of Avery - and possibly a little better if things went just right. It hasn't happened. I feel badly for the guy and expect he'll be a lonely free agent next year without a huge flourish in this last half of the season.
@MarcusDugan @AJ_ @hankster yeah Luck was all over the place, and like Marcus said ever since Wayne went down we have looked out of place in the passing game. I don't think Wayne going down has as much to do with Lucks ridiculous over throws, but not having that same flow with the offense really sucks... I think after this season we need to ditch any chance of DHB coming back also, he doesn't offer much in this offense.
And what is up with V Davis?" - I'm guessing he couldn't find any tape on Tavon Austin while preparing for Tom Brady's receivers?