The Indianapolis Colts lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-27 on Sunday to fall to 1-3 on the season, putting them in fourth place in the AFC South.
The game was uglier than the final score indicates, too, as it wasn’t that close until Andrew Luck and the offense started making a fourth quarter comeback attempt. No, it was a game plagued by dropped passes, bad blocking, defensive miscues, and penalties. It was a game that revealed a lack of talent (we’re looking at you, Ryan Grigson) and a lack of preparation and coaching (we’re looking at you, Chuck Pagano). And while the criticism of the Colts and their leadership has been ongoing for years under this regime, it’s only growing louder. In fact, after Sunday’s loss the criticism of Pagano and Grigson is about as loud as I’ve ever heard it. So to provide an opportunity to see that the overwhelming opinion of people in the media is that the Colts stink and that Grigson and/or Pagano is to blame, let’s just take a look at what people are saying right now. And just to warn you, if you’re a Colts fan that doesn’t like to read negative things about your favorite team, leave now - because it’s not pretty.
Starting with the national media, the Monday Morning QB’s Peter King wrote this:
I sometimes watch 27-year-old Andrew Luck and wonder if he’ll turn into David Carr or Tim Couch, the kind of quarterback who never reached his potential because he got battered so much.
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra had this to say:
Owner Jim Irsay's kumbaya session with Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson this offseason, in which he gave each a contract extension, now seems lost in the wilderness of ages past.
The Colts are a flawed team with a talent-poor roster that blows plays and lacks consistency on both sides of the ball.
As more losses like Sunday pile up, Irsay might have no choice but to make changes. Otherwise, he risks squandering Luck's prime wallowing in almosts.
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson had similar thoughts:
Indy should be 0-4, but they stole a win against the Chargers despite being behind late. They look like the worst team in the entire division, which is impressive because Mike Mularkey is in the middle of setting Marcus Mariota’s career on fire.
Brinson later added:
The Colts thought about rebooting their approach this offseason, but settled instead on letting Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson stick around. They are allowing Jim Irsay's huge investment to get absolutely crushed week in and week out. Without some sort of change on the field for Indy, it's hard to imagine there isn't some kind of change coming in the front office.
The USA Today’s Steven Ruiz also criticized the Colts:
Luck may have the highest degree of difficulty of any quarterback in the league right now. He needs to put up more than 30 points every week to even have a shot at winning, and Luck has to pull that off without pass protection or a running game.
Somehow, the group that created this mess was given another year after overseeing the disaster that was the 2015 season. Pagano's defense is broken and he has yet to find an offensive coordinator capable of building an offense to take pressure off Luck. Grigson has wasted too many draft picks, which has left the roster devoid of talent.
This braintrust has been giving more than four years to build around Luck. It couldn't do so when he was making a modest salary. Do we really expect them to figure it out now that he's the highest-paid player in NFL history?
The Colts need to make a change or risk derailing the career of one of the league's most promising talents.
The Washington Post’s Mark Maske also questioned the decision to retain Grigson and Pagano in January.
The Colts reached the AFC title game two seasons ago before being overwhelmed by the New England Patriots in the Deflategate game. They have regressed rapidly from there. They signed veteran players prior to last season in what seemed to be a Super Bowl-or-bust approach that went decidedly bust. Now they appear to be a fairly dreadful team even with Luck.
Promoting stability and continuity so often is the right choice in the NFL. But was it the proper move for Irsay and the Colts last offseason? The early returns are not promising.
Yahoo Sports’ Shalise Manza Young had this to say:
We theorized that a loss to the Colts could spell the end for Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, but could it be the end for Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano? It was a surprise that Colts owner Jim Irsay kept Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson, but since an overtime win against Tampa Bay in Week 12 last season to up their record to 6-5, the Colts have lost six of nine games.
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco wrote this:
There will be plenty of fingers being pointed at Andrew Luck this week as the Colts lost to the Jaguars to fall to 1-3. And while Luck hasn't played great, it's pretty hard to play quarterback with a bad defense and no offensive line.
And this is from Big Cat Country, SB Nation’s Jaguars site, recapping the Jacksonville win:
8. The win felt great, but we have to be realistic and look at who it came against. Andrew Luck was once upon a time an elite quarterback, but take him away from the Colts and they're the worst roster in the NFL by a good distance. We should've won by at least two scores, but instead squeaked out a three-point win. Any halfway competent team would've exposed our coaching down the stretch.
The local media wasn’t afraid to criticize the Colts, either. Here’s what WTHR’s Bob Kravitz wrote in his report card:
When players start to talk about a lack of professionalism and a lack of focus, my antennae go up. That was clearly a team that wasn’t ready to play a football game. Dropped passes, penalties, blown assignments, you name it. I don’t want to hear about jet lag and trans-Atlantic travel; the Jaguars had to do precisely the same thing. It’s time for the Colts to take stock, look in the mirror and decide whether they’re willing to let this season completely circle the drain.
Five dropped passes. Missed tackles galore. Missed assignments.
Sound familiar? It should. The Colts have been making a habit of these kinds of things in each of their four games now, and they are no longer isolated events. Eleven penalties in last week’s win over the Chargers. An incalculable number of missed tackles in the opener against the Lions. This is now officially a trend.
And it will put even more heat on coach Chuck Pagano, who nearly lost his job after last season but hasn’t found a way to produce more consistent efforts from his team.
The Star’s Gregg Doyel wrote this:
Colts fans out there, they’re angry but they’re not in agreement. One group is blaming coach Chuck Pagano. Another is blaming General Manager Ryan Grigson. And they’re both right. The talent on this team is not good enough – the Colts have one dependable NFL cornerback, it’s possible they have fewer good linebackers than that, and they’re putting the ball in Josh Ferguson’s hands in crunch time – but the coaching isn’t making it better.
For three quarters on Sunday, the Colts didn’t look poorly coached – they looked un-coached. Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson went after Jags receiver Allen Robinson’s head and got a penalty. Safety T.J. Green shoved tight end Neal Sterling to the ground, out of bounds and well after a pass in that direction fell incomplete, and got a penalty. Linebacker Curt Maggitt, who recorded zero tackles, tried to mask that by diving late onto a pile – and drew a penalty. At one point the camera found Pagano on the sideline, and it caught him saying to nobody in particular, “That’s stupid.”
That’s the Colts this season. They’re stupid.
ESPN’s Mike Wells had this to say:
Indianapolis is 1-3 on the season just three months after Irsay gave Luck a $140 million contract with the expectation that the team would be able to bounce back from missing the playoffs last season. Irsay also gave general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano contract extensions during the offseason because he wanted continuity.
But at some point, somebody -- the front office, the coaching staff, teammates -- has to step up and lend a helping hand. Because while the Colts are trying to improve through the draft, everything in the end is based on results.
"We've all got to be better," Pagano said. "Every player in that locker room, player, coach, we're in this thing together."
The Colts are going in the wrong direction, and there’s every reason to have concern. Indianapolis doesn't even look like its capable of winning the weak AFC South with an aging linebacker group and an offensive line that is young and struggling to protect Luck, who was sacked six times.
So there you have it. Pretty much everywhere you look this morning, you’ll see people criticizing the Colts. And the team deserves it, as they’re 1-3 and have looked bad for at least part of all four games. The question becomes what Jim Irsay is going to do about it, if anything. He gave Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson contract extensions in January, and so far it hasn’t worked out. After yet another loss to drop the Colts to the basement of the worst division in football, pretty much everyone is calling them out, as they should.