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The 2012 Colts season has been full of ups and downs, and today's ugly loss to the Jets was just another down on the roller coaster season and shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in Indianapolis.
Well that was rough.
Andrew Luck looked like a rookie. The Colts receivers didn't have great games either. The defense was awful. The coaching wasn't much better. And that all added up to yet another frustrating Colts performance.
They looked bad against the Bears in week 1. Then they handed the 4-1 Vikings their only loss of the season, which was followed up by a last minute loss to the Jaguars. Following their bye week, the Colts made an epic second half comeback to win an emotional game over the Packers. And then the next week, they laid an egg in New York. Yeah, it has been a roller coaster type year for the Colts, but really, what did we expect?
This team wasn't supposed to be that good this year. I predicted them to be right below .500 for the season, which is right where they are right now. But following last week's win, some people were talking playoffs. Is that out of the question just because of this one loss? Of course not, but the Colts have been very inconsistent from week to week.
Throughout it all, the one constant has been that Andrew Luck would play well. Even week one in Chicago he made quite a few very good plays and topped 300 yards passing. Today, however, he struggled. Today, he looked like a rookie. I mean, I guess if that is what we say when he has a terrible game, he must be pretty good. And he is.
Today, though, he was off.
He had some overthrows (including one to Coby Fleener in the end zone that should have been an easy score). He struggled on the run today, the first time we have seen that this year. His pocket presence wasn't what we have come to expect from Luck. And then he just made some questionable decisions (see his second interception in the end zone - don't throw that ball Andrew).
His receivers struggled too. Reggie Wayne dropped a pass (maybe he needs those orange gloves back) and fumbled one away. Donnie Avery has struggled since the Minnesota game, and that continued today (although statistically it was his second best game of the year, which shows how much of a non-factor he has been). The run game didn't get anything done either. The Colts ran the ball 17 times and gained only 41 yards, an average of 2.4 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Jets ran the ball 44 times for 252 yards and 3 scores, averaging 5.7 yards per rush. The Colts defense was awful today. Just flat out bad. They even made Mark Sanchez look good - and that's hard to do. Shonn Greene had a career day (32 carries for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns), which shows how bad it was. The Colts couldn't tackle (reminiscent of 2006), couldn't generate pass rush and most of all they couldn't stop the Jets.
The injuries hurt, but they still should have had a better showing. No, this team isn't good and this game highlighted the work left to do, but this game should have been better. The defense gave up. Cory Redding went out with an injury, apparently the same leg injury that has been plaguing him this entire year. Robert Mathis was out for the game and will be out for the next few weeks as well. Without him, the Colts' pass rush was nearly as nonexistent as number 98's jersey was today. And when the Colts needed Mathis' counterpart, Dwight Freeney, to step up, he didn't. Mathis' replacement, Jerry Hughes, actually was a bright spot today and outplayed Freeney. So did Justin Hickman. It looks like without Mathis the Colts will struggle mightily to get pressure on quarterbacks, which combined with the Colts' secondary will make quarterbacks as bad as Mark Sanchez actually look good (which it did today).
At some point, the Colts need to consider benching Antoine Bethea. He just isn't good anymore. Crap effort on that goalline tackle attempt.— Brad Wells (BBS) (@StampedeBlue) October 14, 2012
While it won't happen (regardless of whether it should or not), just the fact that the question is being raised gives you an idea of how bad Bethea has played this year, and he wasn't any better today.
And lastly, I would be remiss to not mention the bad coaching by the Colts today. Yeah, I understand that Bruce Arians was thrust into a hard situation with Chuck Pagano being hospitalized with leukemia, but that doesn't change any of the coaches' responsibilities, it just adds pressure on Arians and lacks the leadership that Pagano brought. But if anything, the offensive coordinator should be more inclined to go for it on fourth down, right? Apparently not. Early on in the game, with the Colts facing a 4th and 1 from the 2 yard line in a 0-0 game, Arians sent out Adam Vinatieri (who was great today, making all three of his attempts to bring him to 10/13 on the year) for a chip shot 20-yard field goal. Why not go for it there? Surely they could get one yard, and even if they didn't the Jets would have 98 yards to go. That was Jim Caldwell-esque, but not as bad as the field goal Arians settled for in the fourth quarter. Trailing 28-6, Arians once again sent out Vinatieri to attempt the field goal (which he made). But seriously, a field goal does nothing there.
The biggest coaching gaffe and the turning point of the game, however, was the Jets' fake punt pass. Firstly, the Jets ran the fake punt last week. Secondly, with Tim Tebow in on the punt team, you have to always be ready for a fake. The Colts weren't and Tebow's pass was complete to a wide open Nick Bellore for 23 yards and a first down, which set up the Jets' second touchdown. Instead of being Colts ball down 7-3, it was the Jets ball, with New York about to go up 14-3. The Colts were completely unprepared for a fake there, which has to be blamed on the coaching staff.
Bottom line is that this game showed us that the Colts still have a lot of work left to do. They are building the monster. Building is a process. Yeah, today the Colts stunk, but it was only one game. They will rebound. The Cleveland Browns, fresh off their first win of the season, visit Indianapolis next Sunday. That is a very winnable game. The Colts fell faster than Felix Baumgartner did in his space jump today, but the next stop on the roller coaster will be a high, if the trend this year is any indication. And don't overlook the fact that they return home next week, which is big as well.
The Colts were awful today, but its only one game. The roller coaster season continues.