This situation in Indianapolis is a mess through two games this year, as the Colts are an ugly 0-2 and their offense, which was projected to be the best in the league, has the fewest points of anyone so far. The Colts are frustrated, and that frustration boiled over to Chuck Pagano's press conference following the game, where he was understandably upset.
It started with the harshest criticism of quarterback Andrew Luck I've ever heard Pagano utter in a public setting. "You can't [turn the football over]," Pagano said. "You can't turn the ball over. You've got to protect, you've got to give him time, you've got to give him a clean pocket so he can step up and not get hit when he's releasing the ball and we've got to get it fixed. You can't drive the length of the field, a 10-minute drive and get to the one-yard line and put the ball on the ground and make it a 10-7 game. You can't do it. You're not going to beat Zionsville doing that."
"You just got to take care of the football," he continued. "Make great decisions and take care of the football. It’s not that hard. It’s not trigonometry."
Maybe having a quarterback who went to Harvard would help, but Pagano is right, and he's making those thoughts public: Andrew Luck has to do a better job. He has been one of the Colts' biggest issues through two games so far, and for a team relying so heavily on him, that's unacceptable. He has to be better, and Luck will be the first one to tell you that. When asked what was wrong with the Colts' offense Monday, Luck said, "My play, turning the ball over, fumbles, interceptions, it's a pretty glaring issue. You don't want to take anything away from what the Jets did on defense, but we continually shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. If we don't clean those up, it's hard to win. It's hard to win football games so those two."
While no one is excusing Luck's play or letting him off the hook, there are also glaring issues along the offensive line, which allowed Andrew Luck to be hit way too much. But Pagano doesn't think that should have much of an impact on Luck right now. The reason why? Because the line hasn't been good ever since Luck got here and isn't good now, so Luck should be used to it.
"You know what, I'd have to sit down, honestly, and have a conversation," Pagano said when asked whether Luck is trying to do things too quickly behind the bad line. "I don't think so. That's been the case for three years now. Has it not? He should be more than comfortable dealing with what he's dealing with. We've got to get it fixed."
That last part seems to be a veiled shot at general manager Ryan Grigson, whether intentional or not. The reality is that the Colts' offensive line has been poor this year. There's no denying that. Normally, however, we hear "coach speak" from Pagano. Like before the season when he said he felt great about the line on several different occasions. Understand that Pagano is the opposite of controversial with his comments and rarely criticizes individuals like he did with Andrew Luck, but it's even more rare to see him say anything even close to critical of Grigson publicly. There's plenty of it privately, but Pagano so far has kept it that way. So while this statement at first might seem like not a big deal, it's still arguably the most we've heard him criticize the way the team is constructed.
Basically, what Pagano is saying is this: The offensive line stunk when we got here in 2012, and it's stunk ever since. He's not wrong, but that falls squarely on Ryan Grigson's shoulders. It's not because he hasn't tried, but his efforts to improve the line have massively failed, and Pagano knows it. Lance Louis is the starting left guard for some reason, and he has been terrible. Khaled Holmes, the center Grigson drafted in the fourth round in 2013 to hopefully be the eventual answer, hasn't been much better. And the only notable addition Grigson made this offseason, Todd Herremans, was arguably even worse than both of them on Monday night. They simply can't protect Andrew Luck. And rather than give reason to think the line might be better moving forward, Pagano instead knows that Luck needs to be better at playing behind a bad offensive line because he's been doing it for years. That's on Grigson. And for the first time I can remember, Pagano is letting it show publicly, even if it wasn't an intentional shot.
This is getting ugly in Indianapolis. And the Colts are very badly in need of a win this Sunday on the road against the Titans. "We were right here last year," Pagano said. "Same exact deal. Go on the road and get beat, come home on Monday night and get beat, 0-2, got things figured out then we ripped off five straight. So our full intention is to go back to work and do the same damn thing."