I seriously think the Colts made a mistake mid September...and that mistake is starting to bite them now.
That was the stage when the Browns (as it turned out) traded away the thing which is one of Colt's big problems: "Trent Richardson". He lacks the explosiveness to match the great RBs in the league. But to make matters worse about this situation for the Colts (and for Richardson's production) moving forward is that the interior line is a downright mess. The Colt's coaches(which is another underwhelming-performing tandem which I don't really want to take about much in this) are persisting on using a mediocre RB (I still haven't mentioned the hefty price the Colts traded for him, but this will be addressed soon), in a power run scheme, behind a downright trash interior line. That just does not work.
At least this trade would look better if Richardson's production was improving. In the last three weeks. With 59 rush yards on 27 carries (2.2 yards/carry), zero touchdowns and a fumble that could've cost the Colts severely (against Denver) in the last three games, this has gotten worse. Yes, he is improving his receiving totals. But the Colts were hoping to acquire a franchise back to draw pressure away from their franchise quarterback (I will get to Andrew Luck soon) on a consistent basis when they decided to trade away their first round pick. Not a dud.
#1 ISSUE: ANDREW LUCK HAS LOOKED RATTLED FOR THREE OF THE PAST FOUR HALVES
This is the worst thing that can happen. The past two games have been shocking: No pass protection, no one getting open on a consistent basis (only Hilton and Fleener on occasion), no run game, the defense is getting killed by poor offenses and the special teams have had brain snaps. It's reached a point now where Luck is struggling to complete 50% of his passes and if the team didn't let him down, some of his misfired passes would be more accurate. But he is not been producing as is capable of: Luck's supporting cast has been shocking on offense besides Hilton, Fleener and even Havili in recent times. This is probably the worst thing that can happen when you rely so heavily on a franchise, stud QB.
Of all the problems, it's that Luck being rattled that has me most concerned. More than the on field coaching problems that is being talked about more. No one is making plays to help him and if the Colts had that first round pick that they gave to Cleveland, the issues I raised (i.e. the lack of receiving without Wayne and blocking talent) could have been addressed before the trade deadline. Not many people saw it turning out like this. I certainly didn't, but the Richardson trade is killing the Colts. Most RBs can do what he is doing, and at a much cheaper cost.
However, optimistically viewing the situation, the Colts are NOT in trouble at this point. At 6-3 and comfortably ahead of the division, the Colts just need to win against Titans (the Colt's biggest threat for a playoff spot) to get back on track. It is a huge game for the Colts as they will be in the driver's seat (well and truly) for the playoffs if they can win.
How shocking did the 2012 Ravens seem leading up to the playoffs? And the 2011 Giants lost four games in a row at one stage in the second half of the season and were still fighting for a playoff spot in week 17 in that SB winning year.
Take home message: The Colts are not looking like a SB-winning team and would be much better off at this stage if they didn't trade for Richardson. But the past two SB winners, at some point, reached a nadir much lower than what the Colts are at now. With Luck (both kinds; pun and no pun), the Colts can still pull off anything- and the front office and coaches have to improve their decisions if the Colts are to get out of this blunder and perform in the playoffs.