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Chuck Pagano admits he “didn’t have any answers” for Raiders run game

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The ugliest part of the Colts’ 33-25 loss to the Raiders on Saturday was the fact that their defense couldn’t stop anybody. It was, perhaps, the worst it’s been all season - which is saying a lot.

The Raiders racked up 459 yards, averaged 6.5 yards per play, recorded 27 first downs, converted 60% of third down chances (9-of-15), were perfect in the red zone (three-for-three), scored 33 points, rushed for 210 yards, and averaged 5.7 yards per carry (but sure, keep focusing on how Andrew Luck was somehow the reason the Colts lost).

For a stretch of five drives right in the middle of the game, the Colts offered almost no resistance to Oakland’s offense whatsoever. The Raiders scored a touchdown on five straight drives, running 36 plays to gain 341 yards, 20 first downs, and score 33 points. The Raiders averaged 9.5 yards per play on those five drives (nearly a first down every play!), gained a first down on well over half of their plays (20 of 36), and scored almost one point per play (0.917 points per play). The average drive length was 68.2 yards, and that’s only because the last score in that stretch was when they recovered a fumble and went 38 yards. On the four previous drives, the Raiders averaged 75.8 yards per drive. It was absolute, total domination on the part of the Raiders, and the Colts looked like they had just given up.

Particularly bad was their run defense, as on Sunday they gave up 210 yards rushing, the most they’ve given up in a game this year. It’s also more than they gave up in a game last year, as it’s the most they’ve given up in a game since allowing 220 yards rushing to the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship game (in fact, the last three times the Colts allowed 210+ yards rushing in a game were to the Patriots). The Raiders also averaged 5.7 yards per rush, and they were led by DeAndre Washington (99 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 8.7 yards per rush) and Jalen Richard (66 yards while averaging 11.0 yards per carry).

After the game, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano took the blame for the failures against the run and admitted he didn’t have any answers.

“They executed, obviously, and we did not,” he said. “I didn’t have any answers, that’s a bad job on my part and that falls on me.”

The problem for the Colts is that they haven’t had any answers all season. They’ve seen marginal improvement in some areas defensively as the season has gone on, but overall they’re still a really bad defense. The Raiders didn’t do anything fancy, they just outplayed and outcoached the Colts. That’s happened way too much this year, and you’d have thought that Pagano would have been better prepared to face the league’s sixth-ranked rushing offense on Sunday. Or maybe that’s the problem: maybe the Colts were prepared and still couldn’t do anything about it. Maybe their coaching staff thought they had a gameplan to defend against it but realized that not only did their gameplan not work but also that their players weren’t capable of executing the plays. Oakland has one of the league’s very best offensive lines, and the Colts were completely outmatched.

Pagano has perhaps never been more truthful than when he said after the game that, “They [the Raiders] played a heck of a game today. Pretty much beat us soundly in all three phases.”

That they did, and the worst part of it was the utter collapse of an already bad defense.