As I noted in a previous article, Chuck Pagano’s pregame decision to bench Trent Richardson will likely have significant fallout within the organization. That move by Pagano essentially communicated to everyone that the trade for Richardson was a bust. I highly doubt general manager Ryan Grigson appreciates that.
Luck scrambles to victory
- Once again, Andrew Luck’s scrambling ability was a bigger key to the Colts winning the game than his ability to throw. Luck’s 24-yard run on 3rd-and-2 from the Indy 42 yard line was the play of the game. Earlier in the drive, he scrambled for 8 yards on a 2nd-and-5 from the Colts’ 15, giving Indianapolis a HUGE first down. Luck finished with 42 yards on 5 carries.
- I think you can make a direct connection between Luck’s willingness to scramble and his lack of confidence in his receivers. The Colts brass have made it clear numerous times that they’d prefer Luck not scramble for yards. However, if Darrius Heyward-Bey is going to drop wide open passes, as he did yet again this past Sunday, then what the hell is Luck supposed to do?
- The Colts had only 28 yards rushing prior to their 11 play, 82 yard drive to ice the game in the fourth quarter. 9 of those 11 plays were runs, and the Colts finished the game with 104 yards rushing.
- Colts rookie guard Hugh Thornton will be having nightmares about the Titans' Jurrell Casey for at least another month.
Colts defense still isn't very good
- Another week, another game where Chuck Pagano’s defense gave up over 100 yards rushing. 162 to be exact. His phrase "no edge, no chance" is more hollow than the one-time U.S. Military policy of "don’t ask, don’t tell."
- Despite getting mauled much of the game by Tennessee’s offensive line, the Colts defense did a great job stuffing things in the third quarter during that goal line stand. They forced the Titans to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the one, and they scored off a finesse play-fake toss from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Johnson.
- Pagano talked endlessly following the game about how well his defense played Sunday. After looking at the tape, their success had more to do with Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick being awful than anything else. His INT to Cassius Vaughn with 26 seconds left in the first half was a brutal throw. His passes were off much of the day despite the fact that, for the most part, the Colts defense generated little pressure.
- The one time the Colts did pressure Fitzpatrick, it resulted in a key sack-fumble by Robert Mathis in the 3rd quarter. The Titans started that drive on Indy’s 32 yard line after a good punt return. If the Titans had scored a touchdown on this drive, the outcome of the game would have been very different.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick’s turnovers were the difference in the game. 3 picks and a lost fumble. He had four turnovers on the road, and yet his team still only lost by 8 points. That does not reflect well on the Colts.
Adam Vinatieri is a football kicking god
- Adam Vinatieri tied a career high with 5 field goals made, going 5-5 on the day. The last time he did that was the AFC divisional round of the playoffs in 2007 against the Ravens in Baltimore. Vinatieri is having a Pro Bowl season at age 40, and any yutz still screaming they want Pat McAfee to kick field goals for Indianapolis needs to get slapped. Seriously.
- Early in the fourth quarter, new punt returner Chris Rainey almost blew the game by muffing a return. Luckily, teammate Sergio Brown was in the vicinity and not only recovered the muff but advanced the ball. Outside of Luck, Vinatieri, and probably Mathis, Sergio Brown has been one of the few consistently good players that Colts have had on their roster this season. His contributions to special teams cannot be overstated.
This was a key win for Chuck Pagano and his staff, but it came at a price. His decision to bench Richardson and offensive lineman Mike McGlynn is not something he can just sweep under the rug. The move points a finger at both players, fairly or unfairly, and blames them and the general manager who brought them to Indianapolis for the team's poor starts this season.
Yes, a win is a win and Indy has pretty much clinched the AFC South, but their performance overall on Sunday was hardly inspiring. Once again, their offense started slow, with Andrew Luck getting intercepted on the team's opening series of the game. Once again, it's not until the fourth quarter when the offensive line finally decides to block. Once again, another team ran all over the tens of million of dollars worth of veteran free agents that Ryan Grigson signed to help improve Pagano's defense.
It's a win that feels like a loss because, truthfully, this game is what the Colts are: Boring. Uninspired. Uninteresting.
There's nothing about this team that screams "contender" anymore. They look as though they just want to get to the playoffs and then mail it in just so they can brag that they got their "despite all the blah blah blah adversity," or some such nonsense.
I wish I could give you a more uplifting write-up, but my job isn't to cheer lead. This is not a particularly good Colts team, boys and girls. They should thank god and sunny Jesus that the biggest game of the season for them (thus far) featured Ryan Fitzpatrick as the opposing quarterback.