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Monday After Awards: Colts vs Saints

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Another week saw another bad loss for the Colts. As tensions begin to mount, and the sky begins to fall, the Colts (and fans) are looking for answers. Ben Lamers can't provide answers, but can provide some awards in this week's Monday After Awards.

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Well that was bad.

The Colts again were the victims of their own mistakes and slow start against the Saints. Through the first three quarters the Colts couldn't stop the Saints, and couldn't move the ball against the league's worst defense.

A fourth quarter flurry wasn't enough to dig the Colts out of a large first half hole this time. It was a rough game, but as always I have some awards to pass out.

MVP - Pat McAfee

This was one of those games where I was tempted to not give out an MVP at all. But since I feel obligated to do so, it goes to the punter. McAfee punted 10 times in the game, and didn't really make a mistake on any of them.

Saints return man Marcus Murphy returned eight of those punts for an average of five yards. This was in large part due to the phenomenal distance and hangtime McAfee's kicks produced. One of McAfee's punts was downed on the one-yard-line as well.

And let's not forget about the onside kick. While the Colts didn't recover, McAfee did exactly what he needed to do. The past two seasons, McAfee has been a wizard when it comes to onside kicks, and we nearly saw it again this Sunday. If nothing else, McAfee gives me probably a larger glimmer of hope than I should have when the Colts line up for an onside kick.

Pitch Count Award - Frank Gore

I hesitate to gripe about this one, but I'm going to anyway.

Last week, I complained that the Colts needed to give Gore the ball more, especially in the second half. After the game, Chuck Pagano acknowledged that the Colts should have been more patient and stuck with the run.

So what was the result? Gore finished Sunday's contest with nine carries for 43 yards (4.77 ypc). Heck, the Colts only ran the ball 13 times total! And yes, I know a large part of this was in part because the Saints completely owned the Colts in time of possession while building their 27 point lead. I get that. Still, with Gore running well, and Luck playing poor, I don't see why the Colts don't run more.

Fakeout Award - Luke McCown and the Saints

This week, we saw another fake play on special teams. This time, it was the Saints executing a proper fake on a field goal in the first half.

Honestly, it was a masterful fake, and the Colts weren't ready for it at all. After a poor Sean Payton challenge, the Saints drive had stalled, only for McCown to throw a strike on the fake, setting up an easy Saints touchdown.

After a special teams blunder hurt the Colts chances against New England, another special teams blunder sunk them deeper into a hole this past Sunday.

Not so Special (Teams) Award - Griff Whalen

Oh dear.

After taking a brunt of the blame for special teams debacle last week, Whalen again found himself on the wrong end of the special teams game.

Whalen fumbled three times, losing one, as he played probably the worst game I've ever seen from him. We've all noted how Whalen's job is essentially to catch the kicks and not mess up. This week it seemed like Whalen wanted to prove something. He wasn't calling for as many fair catches, and he was running kicks out of the endzone.

I like Whalen as a player, but if he's going to fumble a third of the time he touches the ball, I'd rather just have Josh Cribbs back.

Implosion Award - Front Office

If you could describe the Colts' season thus far in one word, it would be just that: implosion.

I think beyond a shadow of a doubt, Pagano is a goner. Personally, I think he's done during the bye week, assuming the Colts don't beat Denver and Carolina (they won't). Heck, he might bolt for the University of Miami.

Add in the reports of a "heated conversation" between Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay, and you have some serious problems.

These are reports we all saw from the Jets the past few seasons, and the 49ers last year. Yet somehow, this seems worse. Probably just because it's a lot less funny when it is happening to the team you cheer for. Still, the problems in the Colts organization are running rampant, and it's costing the team the season.

LVP - Andrew Luck

And here we are.

After last season, and heading into this one, Andrew Luck had essentially been anointed as the next great QB. He would emerge as a leading MVP candidate while leading the Colts back to the Super Bowl.

Instead, Luck has essentially disappeared. To illustrate just how poorly Luck has played, I'm going to give you two sets of numbers:

Set #1 - 118 completions on 210 attempts (56.2%), 1,398 yards (6.7 YPA) 11 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 1 fumble lost, 12 sacks, and a passer rating of 76.2

Set #2 - 86 completions on 157 attempts (54.7%), 1,063 yards (6.8 YPA), 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 2 fumbles lost, 8 sacks, and a passer rating of 76.6

While the numbers are gaudier, you'll note that the Completion Percentage, Yards Per Attempt, TD to INT ratio, and Passer Rating are almost identical.

Most of you probably recognize that Set #1 are Andrew Luck's stats through his five starts this season. Set #2? Those are Curtis Painter's stats through his first five starts in 2011.

Bottom line? Andrew Luck has been bad. Really bad. Granted he isn't alone on this team in playing poorly, but for Luck, it's a huge decline from his level of play in his first three years.

Wrap-up

The Colts have a murderers row of opponents coming up. The next three games are against teams with a combined one loss right now. The Colts will be lucky to get one of these games, and it's very realistic that they could find themselves sitting at 3-7 after the Falcons game. And yet, it's likely that they'll still find themselves atop the AFC South. So there's that?