FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 4: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts has words with Dan Orlovsky #6 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
After the Colts 19 play, 67 yard possession that took over ten minutes, I was borderline ecstatic. Sure the Colts false-started and then took a sack, but whatever. The Colts sustained a long efficient drive and were, for the moment, tied with the Patriots!
I wasn't sure if I was more pleasantly surprised that Dan Orlovsky started 7-7 throwing or more pissed that the Colts front office/coaches stuck with Curtis Painter for eight weeks.
As promising as Orlovsky looked, and he looked great, I was angrier with the Curtis Painter decision because it is symptomatic of a larger issue: The Colts front office and coaching staff continually find ways to inhibit or interfere with the play on the field.
I say this with hesitation because I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor do I believe that anyone in the organization is intentionally throwing games. That being said, the season is littered with head-scratching front office decisions from why Kerry Collins was placed on IR, to what happened to Tryon to how Curtis Painter was allowed to start for eight weeks. Same for the coaching staff. Whether it be bone-headed timeouts, awful play calls or an inability to understand their personnel, it's hard not to believe that the coaches and front office are hindering the player's performance.
Today was no different.
I don't want to pile on the new guy given he had a short week to prepare against one of the NFL's most prolific offenses, but Mike Murphy's schemes were awful. The defense would probably have been better off on their own.
Worse than the defense giving up massive cushions underneath and failing to put anyone on Gronkowski in the Red Zone (not once, but twice) was the offensive play calling.
Watching Clyde Christensen's play calls was a study of schizophrenia.
At no point this season did I think I'd be screaming at the TV for the Colts to throw more but after Orlovsky started 7-7 I was. Intead, we got 7 runs and 3 passes in what was one of the ugliest 20 minutes of football I've seen. Hold that, the most ghastly display of football since the Saints game...So five weeks.
I get that the Colts were worried about about Orlovsky coming in. That is more than reasonable. But, the only way you are going to beat the Patriots is to score points and after Orlovsky handled himself so well in the beginning, why not see what he can do?
The drive that resulted in the Colt's field goal was one of the most impressive and complete drives (minus the goal line debacle) that the Colts have had all season. Orlovsky aced the test, so why suddenly go back to the run?
The loss of confidence resulting from the inability to score that early TD was the game changer. If the Colts still had any semblance of belief though, the following 20 minute stretch where the defense was hopeless and Christensen pretty much packed it in, killed it for good.
Even in running the ball, Christensen was erratic. Suddenly after receiving no touches in about 8 quarters, Carter replaces Brown, who had been running well. I understand the desire to get Carter back on the field, but doing so at the expense of Brown and in the middle of the third-quarter sends the wrong message and only heightens the frustrations.
You could see that exasperation bubbling over after Garcon's touchdown where he hurled the ball at the Gronk bullseye. He was pissed and probably wondering why the Colts didn't look to him deep against a guy he has owned in recent years.
It's like the Colts coaches respond to clues and situations about two-quarters - sometimes eight weeks - too late. Recently Donald Brown has run well at the start of games only to see his touches decline. For whatever reason, the coaches didn't ride the hot hand. Similarly, in this game the Colts failed to adjust to the fact that Orlovsky was up to the challenge. Then there is the fact that the Christensen didn't exploit McCourtney (a guy Garcon dominated) until it was 3-31....
Don't get me started on the defense or how Painter was allowed to ever throw.
Maybe Christensen simply relied on Peyton Manning's ability to make the adjustments, mask the Colts deficiencies and exploit opponents weaknesses. Regardless, now with Peyton out and the possibility of Andrew Luck taking the reigns, the Colts coaches need to step up and be more responsive because with adjustments and more pressure on defense and allowing Orlovsky to throw on offense, the Colts could have won this game.