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A Culture Change is Needed in Indianapolis

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The slow start to the season may be the wake up call the Colts organization needs. Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz explains.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Before any of you jump to conclusions, this is not about firing Chuck Pagano or Ryan Grigson. In fact, here's a radical idea: let's keep them and not fire them mid-season. A different issue needs to be addressed in the Colts locker room and that's their culture.

Time to Stop Digging Holes

One of the biggest things that the Colts have done in the Luck/Pagano/Grigson era is that they have a habit of digging a hole in the first half, only to come out of it and makes games very interesting. Although this makes football enjoyable to watch for the average fan (or any Colts fan), it's not a formula for success.

I broke down every Colts game from the last 3 seasons, reviewed their first half performances and organized it in tables. What I initially did was classify the games into 3 categories:

- Games where the Colts had the lead at halftime

- Games where the Colts did NOT have the lead at halftime

- Games where the Colts were tied with their opponent at halftime.

From there I then made a new category, breaking down come from behind wins, which I gave an operational definition, which is seen in the next section (the Tables part).

I then chose to compare this Colts team to the Patriots teams from the last 3 seasons. The Patriots are consistent winners and just won the Super Bowl last year. They are a good team to compare with.

Colts Tables

In the following table, we'll define:

- "Come From Behind Wins" as wins where the team (Colts or Patriots) was losing at halftime.

The tables also include playoff appearances.

Against All Teams

Year

Had the Lead At Halftime

Did Not Have the Lead at Halftime

Games Tied At Halftime

Come From Behind Wins

2012

7

10

0

5

2013

8

9

1

4

2014

13

6

0

1

Total

28

25

1

10

This next table will be narrowed down to first half performances against teams with winning records in the season the Colts played them (also including playoff games).

Against Teams w/ Winning Records That Season

Year

Had the Lead At Halftime

Did Not Have the Lead at Halftime

Games Tied At Halftime

Come From Behind Wins

2012

2

5

0

1

2013

3

6

0

2

2014

6

5

0

0

Total

11

16

0

3

What we can take away is that the Colts are barely over 50% when it comes to leading at halftime against all teams. Essentially, the Colts have a 50/50 chance every week, against any team, of having a halftime lead. Ouch.

Against quality opponents, defined as teams with winning records, the Colts stand at around 40% in terms of having the lead at halftime. That's more than a 10% drop off. Again... ouch.

Now, let's compare those numbers to the Patriots halftime numbers over the past 3 seasons.

Patriots Tables

Against All Teams

Year

Had the Lead At Halftime

Did Not Have the Lead at Halftime

Games Tied At Halftime

Come From Behind Wins

2012

14

2

2

1

2013

10

6

2

4

2014

12

6

1

3

Total

36

14

5

8

Against Teams w/ Winning Records That Season

Year

Had the Lead At Halftime

Did Not Have the Lead at Halftime

Games Tied At Halftime

Come From Behind Wins

2012

7

1

0

0

2013

2

3

1

1

2014

6

5

1

2

Total

15

9

0

3

So comparing the two, there are some glaring differences. The Patriots take the halftime lead in 65% of their games, nearly 15% better than the Colts. In games against quality opponents, defined as teams with winning records in that season, the Patriots take the lead at the half 62.5% of the time, which is over 20% better than the Colts.

What's also interesting is that the Patriots are more likely to come back against an opponent than the Colts are. When trailing at the half, the Colts come back to win 40% of the time. The Patriots, on the other hand, when trailing at the half, come back to win 57% of the time. Against quality teams, the Patriots come back 33% of the time, when trailing at the half. The Colts, on the other hand, come back only 18% of the time in that situation. So, the Colts may have more comeback wins, but that's because they're trailing a lot in a lot more games at halftime, whereas the Patriots don't do that.

These tables should make it obvious that trailing at halftime, in so many games, is NOT a good formula for success and will hurt you going forward.

Coaches Need to Be Better Prepared

We now have proof that the Colts are slow starters, and look silly compared to a great NFL team (in terms of first half performances). What does that mean? The coaches aren't well prepared going into games. They don't game-plan well and teams are able to take advantage early on in games. At halftime, there's probably some type of "ra ra" speech and the coaches start making their adjustments. For those who watched "Do Your Job" with the New England Patriots, we see what the Patriots do leading up to a game. They have extensive film periods where they break down every little thing that their opponent does. Ernie Adams, a long time colleague of Bill Belichick, analyzes and breaks down the opponent. He then puts together a practice plan and discusses every little thing with Belichick. From there, the Patriots mimic what their opponent does. They line up like their opponent on defense so their offense gets a good look at what they do, and the same for their offense. They then come up with different strategic points they carry out into the game. For example, if the team has a star skill player (like T.Y. Hilton for the Colts), then the gameplan will be to shut him down, and the Patriots have their different ways of doing that. On the other side of the ball, they look for matchups. For example, before the Super Bowl, they saw on film that the Seahawks liked to use man coverage, and when they carried that out in the game, they isolated Gronk on one side of the field, in man coverage, against a linebacker. Brady threw up the pass and Gronk caught the 30 yard TD, and it looked easy. That's what preparation does.

To be fair, the Colts coaching personnel may do all of this before the game, but if they do, they do not do it well. Whatever preparation they do does not carry over into the game. A well prepared team does not fall into that many holes.

The Colts' coaching staff need to start taking different measures in terms of their preparation.

Divisiveness of the Team

There have been many reports over the past few weeks that Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have not been on the same page, and that there is a "rift" going on in the front office. When I read the initial reports on Jim Harbaugh and his rift with the 49ers, I thought it was a load of crap. Then I read that the 49ers tried to trade Harbaugh to the Browns, which was later confirmed. Then they had a rough season with many different incidents. Then they fired him. In today's sports world, when there's a report about anything (from a credible person of course), you need to take it seriously. These reports about Pagano and Grigson tell me "where there's smoke, there's fire". Pagano's "offensive line-3 years" comment after the Jets game is a pretty clear shot at Grigson. We all know Grigson is in charge of the personnel and that was Pagano's way of saying "Hey, nothing's changed with this O-line, it's still crap and it's your fault!" It's obvious there's something going on.

This divisiveness is not what the Colts need right now. Jim Harbaugh was a damn good coach, arguably a top 3 coach in this league. He wasn't the same in his last year with the 49ers, as the reports trumped every game storyline they had that season. You cared more about the Harbaught-49ers tension than you did about the team's performance. These rifts are distractions and it hurts the head coach. The Colts don't need this, especially when there are many new faces and a lot of old leaders are gone.

More Focus on the Defense

In terms of a long term goal, more focus needs to be put on defense. That means when it comes to drafting, it's time to shy away from speedy receivers and go for the gritty, hard nosed players. Now, I'm all for B.P.A (best player available), but B.P.A should only be for positions of need. Before this year's draft, Ryan Grigson had spent one top 3 round pick on a defensive player and that player was Bjoern Werner, who has been Indy's Casper the Ghost over the past 3 seasons. Finally in this year's draft, the Colts spent more picks on defense and it's already paying off. Henry Anderson looks like an absolute stud who rips through offensive lineman. David Parry is already having a nice impact. D'Joun Smith has yet to take the field, but may have to soon with all these DB injuries (once he's back from his own injury). Kendall Langford was also a nice, low-risk signing in free agency. I haven't seen the defensive line perform this well in at least a few years. I have to keep in mind that it has only been two games, but it has been a great two games from the defensive line and that's due to the front office investing in that area. It is paying off.

The Colts are set on offense. They have Luck, they have Hilton, they now have Dorsett and Moncrief for the next little while. They already had Allen and Fleener. They just drafted Mewhort, and they just signed Castonzo to a huge deal. Frank Gore and Andre Johnson carry them over until the end of the year too. The Colts are set right now and long-term on offense.

It's time to set them up on defense going forward. The only guy on defense who's been locked up is Vontae Davis. Who knows with everybody else? Anderson and Parry are starts. In the above paragraph, where i mentioned the offensive guys going forward, I mentioned 10 names, with at least six of them being long-term locks. Vontae Davis, Henry Anderson and David Parry are the only guys who make the future bright on defense. Where's the linebacker? What about safeties? It's time to start talking about more names on defense.

Put a Focus on Winning Through Unison

It's time to a focus on winning. In the words of Herm Edwards, "you play to win the game". The first thing they should do is dump the stupid, ridiculous and laughable "Finalist" banners. You hang up banners to indicate that you were the best in your division or the best in the league. If you were best in your division, no team in your division was better than you, so hang up that banner. If you win the Super Bowl, no team in the league was better than you, so hang up that banner. If you lost in the AFC Championship, at least 2 teams were better than you and you tied another team.You do not hang up banners for 2nd place, or 3rd place or 4th place. They might as well start hanging banners like this:

In all seriousness, it's time to start going for gold and start adopting different ideas. The Colts were viewed by almost everyone as Super Bowl contenders going into the season. How can they have that fight in them when there are 2nd place banners outnumbering the 1st place banners? Personally, I feel the Colts should embrace the motto of "Go For Broke", which means that you put everyone on the line, with one goal in mind: the Super Bowl. The Colts are at a point where they've made the playoffs the last three seasons, have improved every year and are knocking on the doorsteps of a Super Bowl matchup. A new mentality is needed to get them there.

To recap, the Colts don't need to fire Grigson or Pagano, at least not during the season. What needs to happen is that this team needs to start approaching games differently from a preparation standpoint. They need to adopt a win or go home mentality for everything. They need to START FOOTBALL GAMES PROPERLY!

If the Colts want to win a Super Bowl, and they have the talent to do so, these things must be adopted in order to raise the Lombardi trophy.