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At 0-2 And the Season Likely Finished, Why Don't The Colts Experiment More?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts on the sidelines against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts on the sidelines against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Interesting ideas here posed by Kyle Rodriguez at

Personally, I believe both [Donald Brown and Jerry Hughes] were bad draft picks. However, that doesn’t mean that the Colts can’t glean some use from them.

Donald Brown has shown an electric ability when given space to run. He’s also shown an incredible ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Jerry Hughes has great speed, and has shown flashes of brilliance when rushing from a standing position, as opposed to the normal three-point stance.

So, why are the Colts’ even attempting to utilize those talents? They may not be suited for every-down type of players, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. However, the Colts’ coaching staff is treating them that way, keeping Brown on the bench for the first two weeks, and giving Hughes very limited action against the Browns.

This isn’t going to help the Colts. The Colts can try to utilize Brown and Hughes’ natural talents, so why don’t they?

Kyle and I are of the same mind here. Yeah, Brown and Hughes are busted picks. That's obvious (to everyone but Bill Polian, but hey, whatever). But, that doesn't mean this Colts team, which has played terribly to start the season, can't start thinking of ways to utilize Brown and Hughes in new, creative ways.

Kyle and I agree: This is a lost season. So, why not start using your busted picks to see if they can offer anything for next season? Even if the team hasn't given up on the season, wouldn't it make sense to, at least, try something different? It's not like what they have going now is working.

Here's my personal belief as to why the coaches aren't experimenting more: Jim Caldwell is being evaluated by Jim Irsay and Bill Polian, and his coaching for his job.

As we all know, the front office has screwed the pooch on four of the last five drafts. Now, with Peyton Manning on the sidelines recovering from spinal surgery, the lack of talent on the roster is glaring.

This team could very possibly go 0-16.

Yes, it is possible. That's how bad they've looked in preseason and in the first two regular season games. Plus, when you lose to the Browns at home, 0-16 is always a possibility. Some might argue a team should have wins taken away from them simply for losing to Cleveland at home. With the money invested in players like Dwight Freeney, Antoine Bethea, Dallas Clark, and Robert Mathis, the Colts should have crushed Cleveland on Sunday.

They didn't.

In fact, Cleveland dominated them. The score was 27-12 with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Anyone saying the Colts looked 'improved' overall against Cleveland is not someone who is looking at this team with an objective eye. The whole team looked bad Sunday, especially the defense.

Now, should this team wins three games or less this year, that would be pretty damning indictment of the front office. Most executives do not retain their jobs when a team is expected to contend for a Super Bowl instead is competing for the first overall pick. The only way they do retain their jobs is if they blame the head coach, and that is exactly what I think will happen here should the Colts continue to lose.

The excuse the front office could use is that, 'Well, our picks are not developing well under Caldwell. Clearly, it's not our fault. Our scouting system is genius. It has to be the coach. I mean, look how well our picks flourished under Dungy?'

During Caldwell's tenure, we've seen little meaningful production from 2009 high round picks Donald Brown and Fili Moala. Jerry Hughes (2010 first rounder) has been awful, and second round pick Pat Angerer is forced to play out-of-position because the Colts decided to give $30 million dollars to a 30+ year old linebacker in Gary Brackett (who, once again, is hurt and missing games).

Don't think this lack of development has gone unnoticed by the top brass at West 56th Street. In the NFL, players either bust because the front office screwed up or because the coach failed to develop them. It's either one or the other. Someone is accountable. Based on how West 56th Street reacted in 2001, when Jim Mora Sr. did everything possible to win despite horrid talent on defense, do you think the Polian family will fall on the sword if the Colts go 1-15?

No, they'll blame Caldwell.

While we all like to poke fun at Jim for his poor game management and the clueless 'derrrrrr' expression on his face whenever the camera cuts to him on the sideline, he's actually a pretty intelligent guy. Bad coach, maybe, but not dumb. Caldwell knows the eyes of the front office are watching him, and he knows he has to demonstrate weekly progress in order to justify retaining his job. If he falls back on the Manning injury excuse, he's as god as fired.

It's also worth noting that Caldwell is in year three of a four year deal. Either during this season, or sometime after the close of the regular season, the Colts will either need to fire or extend him. He absolutely CANNOT coach next year as a lame duck. Jim Fox did that for Carolina last year. It was disastrous.

Thus, in order to justify an extension, he has to stick to his guns and coach the way he knows how. If he were more comfortable in his job, I think we'd see more experimentation with formations and personnel. Maybe.

But, when you are coaching for your life, as I believe Caldwell is (and should be), you aren't going to start inserting new defensive and offensive packages just to get a couple of busted draft picks some playing time.