In the moments following the Colts’ 30-14 loss to the Chiefs at home on Sunday, Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano made it clear: the Colts are moving in the wrong direction.
“We took a step back today, that’s obvious,” Pagano said. “Right when we were starting to think we were headed in the right direction that happens. Again, we will look at the tape like we always do and try to figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Quarterback Andrew Luck agreed.
“Right now, it feels like we’ve moved backwards this weekend,” he said. “It feels like we were making progress and then we step backward and we’re sick of it. It’s on us. No one else to blame, it’s on us.”
Though left tackle Anthony Castonzo didn’t look at it as a step back and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson implied that Luck maybe said it that way because he was frustrated, I think most people would agree with Pagano and Luck on that matter: this loss was a step back for the Colts.
That’s saying quite a bit in what has been a season that could also be characterized as a “step back” for the franchise. It wasn’t like the Colts had made a ton of progress forward in the first place, but they were coming off of their best game of the season in a division win against the Titans on the road, so they were looking to put two wins together, get to .500 on the year, and stay right in the mix of the AFC South race. But instead, they put together their worst overall performance as a team and lost by 16 points at home to the Chiefs. That’s a step back, for sure, even though they hadn’t taken many steps forward to begin with.
Perhaps the most notable part of the game was the offense struggling, as they entered the game as one of the top offenses in football with a quarterback who was playing just as well as anyone in the league. But on Sunday, the Colts managed just 14 points and Luck struggled, turning the football over twice and dealing with accuracy issues on some other throws. In typical Luck fashion, however, he was the quick to take the brunt of responsibility on himself.
“Me,” Luck replied when asked what the basis of the offensive struggles was. “I know I struggled. I think every offensive player in the room feels like we let each other down in a sense. In my mind, I feel like I let the team down. Turnovers, bad. Simple things that you can’t do in the NFL and expect to win games.”
Luck bobbled a snap and fumbled it, marking his first turnover on the day. “Yeah, just didn’t catch it,” he said. “My job is to catch that ball and I didn’t. I failed.”
Luck’s second turnover was near the end of the first half, when he threw a comeback route to Donte Moncrief that was picked off. “Good break by the corner, probably not a very good ball and just a poor decision for that matter and he made a heck of a play,” Luck explained. “One of those that you wish you can have back, but you can’t and you learn from it and we didn’t do enough to overcome that.”
Luck also credited the Chiefs defense for playing a good football game and forcing the Colts into some mistakes, but make no mistake: he took the responsibility for the loss on his shoulders. That’s what a franchise quarterback does, and he’s not wrong in the sense that he needs to get better. But that’s true of the entire team: from the offensive line to the receivers to the defense to the special teams to the coaching, this team needs to improve. On Sunday, we saw the Colts take a step backward, but outside of Luck’s struggles, it really wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. In a sense, it seems like the same thing over and over.
“Some of it yeah,” Luck agreed, “[but] some of it different, so we’ve got to clean it up.”
There’s an old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but that’s exactly what Jim Irsay was hoping would happen this past January - and that’s exactly why no one should be surprised at some of the struggles of the Colts this year. It’s the same thing over and over, and it’s one of many “steps back” we’ve seen this team take over the past few years.