The loss to the Cardinals shouldn't be surprising or all to concerning. The way the Colts lost, though? Yeah, that is both surprising and concerning both. The Colts didn't just lose - they were crushed and embarrassed. This loss is just another one in the loss column and nothing more, but it certainly felt like more.
The Colts couldn't block anybody. Andrew Luck made some mistakes. They couldn't catch or get open. They couldn't tackle. They couldn't stop the run. They couldn't stop the pass. Basically, if you made a list of things to do if you wanted to lose a football game, the Colts would have likely done all or most of them today.
- I know people want to blame Chuck Pagano. I know people want to blame Pep Hamilton. And much of it is warranted. They haven't been good the past four weeks and it has shown, and I've never disputed that. It has been bad. But I have thought (and still absolutely do) that much of what people were saying was an overreaction. I still do. But let me say this about today's game: this was not all on the coaching staff. I'm not trying to absolve Pagano or Hamilton of blame but rather am trying to share the balanced point of view. Pagano and Pep need to step it up, but this loss needs to rest primarily on the players. They missed A TON of tackles. Andrew Luck threw a terrible pass on a terrible decision that was a pick-six. They couldn't block anybody and Luck was under pressure every single play. I'll place this one primarily on the players - not absolving the coaches of all blame but rather realizing that it's most definitely isn't all their fault.
- I find it very, very interesting that most people in the national media I follow on twitter weren't talking about how bad the Colts played but instead how good the Cardinals played and how we're finally seeing how good they can be. That doesn't mean the national media thinks the Colts played good by any means, but that instead they recognize that it's not always the Colts playing bad, either - sometimes the other team can play good, which fans seem to ignore most of the time. I do think the Colts played awful today, but I think it is very telling that the national media was talking more about the Cardinals playing great rather than the Colts playing bad. Just another thing to consider.
- LaRon Landry was terrible today. Like, at times I thought the Colts should consider benching him for Delano Howell. I know they wouldn't, nor do I really think that would be the best decision. But he was awful today. He missed several tackles and was bad on other plays. The other safety, Antoine Bethea, was also really bad today. He hasn't had a good season at all and is probably playing his final season in Indianapolis, because he has lost his speed and takes bad angles to the ball. He was bad today and he hasn't been good overall this season, either.
- Vontae Davis was injured, leaving the game with a groin injury and not returning. He didn't have a great game, but I thought some of it was just great passes from Carson Palmer - who played a very good game.
- But hey, on the bright side, at least T.Y. Hilton's shoulder injury turned out to be not that bad. He returned to the game a drive after the injury.
- Why did Donald Brown only get 2 CARRIES? That is inexplicable to me. Unless he was injured, there is no reason to give him only 2 carries when Trent Richardson got 7 carries and averaged just 2.1 yards per carry.
- Also, Daniel "Boom" Herron needs to be involved in the offense more. He has run well in the two situations where he has gotten carries (both at end of games). He carried the ball 4 times for 33 yards today. With Richardson struggling, Herron should get more involved in the offense more.
- Perhaps the worst coaching decision of the day was leaving Andrew Luck in the game to the very end. He was under constant pressure all day. Matt Hasselbeck should have been in the game for much of the 4th quarter. Leaving Andrew Luck in there is really an inexplicable decision, too.
- Andrew Luck was under pressure all day long and had several throw aways while on the run, but he wasn't perfect either. The pick-six he threw was just a terrible decision. He threw the ball as he was going down and it was picked by linebacker Karlos Dansby, who took it back for a score.
- Robert Mathis got another sack today, bringing his season total to 14.5. With just 2 more sacks, he sets the Colts franchise record for both sacks in a single season and sacks in a career. Also, with a strip sack today, he set the NFL record with his 40th forced fumble.
- David Reed didn't hit a home run today. I know, we're all just as surprised as the coaches.
- The offensive struggles shouldn't surprise anybody. They're playing without so many key players that they were due to struggle after a certain amount of injuries. But the defense - without the injuries - is also struggling, and that is what is most concerning - far more than the offense.
- Try to explain this: the Colts went 2-2 against the NFC West this year (the best division in football). They beat the Seahawks and the 49ers and lost to the Rams and Cardinals (getting blown out by both).
- Ok, so I want to offer a quick analysis of what the Colts need to do. They need to shake some things up in terms of lineups and playing time, but not just because players aren't contributing but because the team needs a mindset change. The grass isn't always greener and no one should think that making a change in the lineup at this time of year is going to change everything - occasionally it does, but most often we see just why that player was a backup. But the Colts need to make some changes to get this team going again, and that would be one way to do so. But also on a smaller note, perhaps receiving the opening kickoff instead of choosing to defer would work, and then come out in a no huddle offense. Scoring the first touchdown of the game would be HUGE for this team and could potentially motivate them to play a complete game, which could motivate them to start playing well again. And on a smaller note that probably won't make a big difference but that absolutely needs to happen - the Colts need to cut David Reed and activate Da'Rick Rogers. Also, more so than Rogers the Colts need to get LaVon Brazill involved. DHB isn't working out.
- The world is not ending. The Colts are still 7-4. The Colts are on pace for somewhere right in between 10 and 11 wins - have we forgotten the preseason expectations for this team already? 11 wins was about as high as anyone was going, and many were predicting them to go 8-8 (or worse). They were seen as a fringe playoff team before the season. So let's PLEASE keep things in perspective. That was the talent level of this team before the season BEFORE the injuries to the offense. The team overachieved during the first part of the season. Perspective is a good thing. They're still 7-4. They're still in line for a playoff spot. They still have Andrew Luck.
- Next week is now a HUGE game in Indianapolis. The Titans (who won today to go to 5-6) come to Indy to play the 7-4 Colts. With a win, the Titans would place themselves right back in the thick of the AFC South race. I think the Colts will step up to the challenge (the last time they played the Titans was the week after the blowout loss to the Rams; this one the week after the blowout loss to the Cardinals). But the bottom line is that it is a very big game for both teams.
- A big congrats to Bruce Arians. He has the Cardinals at 7-4 and in the thick of the playoff race and just blew out the Colts. He's a great coach and an even better person, and even though I'm upset about him beating the Colts I'm also very happy for him.