One thing that many people have noticed after watching the Colts during the first four games of this season (and for the past few years) is that Andrew Luck and the offense seem to operate at a higher level when they’re going up-tempo.
Fans and media alike have both mentioned as much, and yesterday even former Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (who played with Andrew Luck and for Chuck Pagano) took to twitter to say the Colts should use the hurry-up offense more. What seems to happen is that the Colts fall behind early, then go more up-tempo on offense as they make a comeback. So while going more up-tempo early on in games may or may not be the answer to the slow starts, it’s clear that it’s something the Colts should do.
“Yeah, great question,” head coach Chuck Pagano said today when asked about it. “It’s something that we’ll continue to have dialogue about and with and talk about it as a staff. There’s things from a gameplan perspective that you look at where you go no-huddle and you get a group on the field and you have to keep them basically on the field. So if you want to utilize both tight ends at one point, if you want to go one tight end three wideouts and stay that way, if you get a back in there, if you go no-huddle you end up basically having to keep them in there based on the pace that you’re going to go. So those are some of the things that go into that. Then just trying to get in a rhythm - obviously we didn’t - but get in a rhythm early, try to help some young guys out. No excuses, but we had three young guys starting up front. All those things, but it’s definitely something that we’ll talk about.”
So basically, it sounds like the reason why the Colts don’t utilize the up-tempo offense more often is because they don’t want to be stuck with the same personnel for the entire drive. As he said, if they want to go with two tight ends on one play and then three wide receivers on the next play, it’s hard to go up-tempo. So the reasoning for the Colts not utilizing the style of offense that best suits their personnel is because they want to be able to change their personnel. Makes sense, right?
Honestly, it’s a pretty bad reason to not utilize the up-tempo offense. The Colts don’t need to substitute personnel so much that it would prohibit their use of an up-tempo offense, as they could be flexible in getting guys in when need be. But part of the benefit of using the up-tempo offense is also that you can get the same personnel on the field and that the defense also has to keep the same personnel on the field. So in that regard it can be all about matchups, but it’s possible that the Colts’ desire to try to manufacture those different matchups by substituting isn’t the most effective method.
My point is this: when it’s pretty clear that Andrew Luck and the Colts’ personnel plays at their best when in an up-tempo offense, the coaches shouldn’t be stubborn about substituting or things like that and instead just let them play. There are certainly plenty of situations where subbing is good and where using different formations is good, but that shouldn’t get in the way of the offense’s strengths. Based on Pagano’s explanation about the no-huddle offense today, it sounds like it might be. Hopefully, those discussions that the coaching staff will have will allow them to see that and make a change - because like I said, going up-tempo early on may or may not be the answer, but it’s something the Colts need to utilize regardless.