The Indianapolis Colts lost to the New York Jets in Monday's home opener 20-7. What did we learn from the game? Here are three takeaways (and we're using the team "learn" loosely):
Andrew Luck is the team's biggest problem right now
Through two games, the player many would be the MVP this year has been anything but. Andrew Luck has completed just 47-of-86 passes (54.7%) for 493 yards (5.7 yards per attempt), 3 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 58.9, also losing a fumble. He is dead last in the NFL in passer rating right now among those who qualify. He leads the league in interceptions. His completion percentage is 30th-best out of 34 qualified players. His yards per attempt also ranks 30th. 11 players have thrown for more yards than he has, while ten have thrown for more touchdowns (and another 11 tied with him). Andrew Luck has been bad, and there's no way around that fact. He knows it. When asked last night what was wrong with the offense, he started off by saying, "my play." Head coach Chuck Pagano knows it, saying that, "You just got to take care of the football. Make great decisions and take care of the football. It's not that hard. It's not trigonometry."
Here's the deal with the Colts: they are built totally around their quarterback. We knew that was the case coming in, but we didn't expect Luck to struggle like this. We chalked up week one to a rough road game against a very good defense, but now it has been two weeks in a row. The Colts have other concerns - like the offensive line, for example - but Luck has been the biggest one so far. He's the team's best player, but so far this year he has been their biggest problem. And as long as that continues, all of the other problems will be magnified.
Give the defense some credit
Believe it or not, the Colts defense actually did a lot of good things last night. They were helped by Ryan Fitzpatrick, sure, but remember that this was a group that entered the game missing three of their top four corners and lost the other one, Vontae Davis, to a concussion in the first half. This team was playing with Jalil Brown, Sheldon Price, and Eric Patterson at cornerback against an NFL offense and gave up just 20 points - despite their own offense turning the ball over five times. That deserves credit. The two rookie linemen, Henry Anderson and David Parry, again stepped up and looked very good against the run, while Vontae Davis and Mike Adams teamed up for an absolutely sensational interception. In a normal game, the defense giving up 20 points at home would be plenty. But, again, the offense has struggled to get anything done, so 20 points was more than enough for the Jets Monday night. The bottom line is this: if you had told me that the defense would give up just 20 points despite playing without their top four corners and despite their offense turning the ball over five times, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's what this unit did, and they - along with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and head coach Chuck Pagano - deserve some credit for that fact.
A few individual players stepped up and came to play
There's plenty of negative we could talk about (like the offensive line, for instance), but let's instead focus on a few of the players who I thought impressed on Monday night. I already mentioned Henry Anderson, but I thought he had another terrific performance. Five tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit, and a sack. The rookie continues to impress, as does David Parry, who also did some good things on Monday night against the run. Wide receiver Donte Moncrief also stepped up big-time, with Andre Johnson continuing to not be a big factor and T.Y. Hilton hurting. Moncrief caught seven passes (on eight targets) for 122 yards and a touchdown, showing off great timing with Luck and making plays. Moncrief stepped up, and if Luck can get going and with a healthy Hilton, you can start to see small signs of how this offense could be explosive. Another player who deserves credit is Pat McAfee, who continued to punt very well. He punted three times and averaged nearly 50 yards per punt, including one pinned inside the 20. He didn't get too many chances to punt because of turnovers, but he did a good job (as you'd expect).