An 0-9 record is emotionally trying and can cause difficult introspection. For Colts coaches, it seems to have produced a lot of confusion.
Maybe it's the fact that they have never been in such a position before. Maybe it's they don't know which players the front office will allow them to play. Or maybe they are just in over the heads without Peyton Manning (a condition which would apply to both offense and defense*).
Whatever it is, the strategies, decision making and results are mind numbingly bad.
Besides not being able overrule the Polians on who they want to play (see Tryon and Gonzalez) the coaches have continually made head-scratching decisions.
Today's game against Atlanta was a prime example.
Forget about the play calling - which we will get to in a minute - the personnel moves were most frustrating, particularly the decision to bench Delone Carter. After fumbling the ball on the first possession, the coaches pulled Carter in favor of Brown effectively punishing him for the mistake.
Granted, the fumble was not one of Brown's finest moments and Donald Brown made the decision easier by running well in his place, but benching a young player for a common mistake is the wrong message to send.
As Steve Young frequently says, the best lesson for a young receiver who drops a pass is for the quarterback to go right back to him on the next play to show the receiver he still has the team's confidence. Benching Carter could quickly undermine the rookie's confidence and set him back from a mental standpoint.
The second obtuse move made by Clyde 'I'm completely lost without Peyton' Christensen was benching Painter. Sure, Painter isn't getting it done. But shouldn't that have been obvious ? (And since it was, why'd we keep him?)
Why also rattle Painter's presumably fragile confidence by replacing him with a journeyman no-name who he already beat out in pre season? It's not like the coaches are looking to next year. If the Colts keep Peyton and don't draft Luck, they'd be crazy not to draft a back up (Boise State's Kellen Moore). If they do draft luck, it'd be prudent to sign a veteran to mentor him. Either way, given the performance of Painter this year and the fact that Orlovsky was somehow worse than Painter in the preseason, there is little chance (at least there shouldn't be) that either will be back next season.
The argument of Orlovsky providing a spark would hold true, except for the fact that it would admission of how the Colts game plan has absolutely handcuffed Painter from the get go.
This leads to my larger point. Why on earth are the Colts calling on a young and inexperienced quarterback (who has a spotty history) to throw the ball 34, 49 and 27 times (through three quarters) a game.
It's an outrageous mishandling of an inexperienced player and is the utmost in blatant and dense stubbornness. There is really no other explanation other than Christensen is a one-track mind who can not adapt when need be.
It's like a pitching coach putting in an inexperienced closer in a tight game and asking him to go 2 innings. NO! You ease him in and don't demand too much. There is a reason, some quarterbacks are considered game managers and typically (as in always) they will not throw more than 20-25 passes.
The excuse of playing from behind doesn't hold water because:
1. When you throw it 49 times, that is something you committed to before hand and you are throwing from the get-go.
2. PAINTER'S YARDS PER COMPLETION WERE 3.9!!!!!!!!! Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Joe Addai and even Painter himself had higher yards per rush average...
The second point is far more frightening given over the last four games that stat has ranked the Colts at the bottom of the league at under 5 yards per completion. Why throw the ball? Seriously. Why even attempt a single throw? Carter, Addai are close to that average and Brown is almost even at 4.8 YPC.
Mathematically speaking, the Colts offense would be far more potent and far better off not attempting a single pass. Think about it. Painter completes only slightly higher than 50 percent of his passes. The running back's average runs are somewhere around 4.2 YPC.
So (assuming a 5.1 yards per completion average) every 10 downs the Colts throw the ball, they move roughly 25.5 yards (5 completions x 5.1). For every 10 rushes the Colts would pick up 42 yards or 1.6 times more than throwing.
(Side note: As a Colts fan I never imagined I would be advocating the Colts pound the run. Ever.)
But that's not a fair comparison because teams would stack the line right? Of course it's not! That's why when they do bring 9 into the box, you finally throw!!!
For some reason though, the Colts put together one decent opening drive before inevitably punting, then spend the rest of the next two quarters going throwing the ball and going 3-and-out. The opposing team jumps ahead and has a fresh defense the rest of the way.
It's no wonder why the offense is 31st in scoring in the first half and the defense last in the league in giving up points during the same time frame.
Given that we are 0-9, have a terrible quarterback but a decent trio of running backs, I for one would love for the Colts to start a game with 15 straight runs and see what happens.
* Defensively this game wasn't as maddening. Sort of.
Sure we gave up 31 points, but Coyer decided to finally blitz a bit more. Results? A few pressures, a sack and a couple of nice tackles behind the line. Unfortunately, blitzing a bit more means maybe 10 times total and then reverting back to the corners sitting 10 yards deep in a soft porous zone... Sigh.