To call the 2017 season a struggle for the Indianapolis Colts would be an understatement. This year there have been far too many glaring negative storylines for any positive ones to gain a lot of traction. It’s not that the Colts haven’t shown some fight in games this year. In the first half in particular, this team has mustered the effort to appear like a competitive football team. It’s what has happened in the second half of these games that has defined this season.
While Indy’s home loss during a prime time match-up with the Broncos shared a lot in common with previous games, there was something different. There was a feeling like what the inside of the Hoosier Dome must have been like before the hollowed building was finally put out of its misery. There was a collective team-wide gasp for air, a strong exhale, and ultimately a collapse.
Sure, this could partially be due to some exhaustion after a long season of bumps and bruises and one of the most physically demanding games that any of these players have ever participated in just a few days ago in Buffalo. Maybe with a longer week they will come back out on the field with nothing to play for and simply show some pride against a Ravens fan base who will show them no mercy but for some reason this collapse was different.
Let it be very clear that the Broncos offense is anemic. They are Colts offense level anemic. Putrid, awful, they have no real identity, no one ready to lead their offense, and they are particularly mistake-prone. Fans caught a glimpse of that early when Trevor Siemian threw an awful pass to Demaryius Thomas that went right into the hands of rookie cornerback Kenny Moore. This one shining moment in the game resulted in Indy’s lone touchdown.
At the time, no one knew that this interception and a punt in the first minute of the second quarter would be the only times that Indianapolis would take over possession of the ball due to a defensive stop. That’s right, the Broncos offense turned over the ball once and punted only once.
Veteran running back C.J. Anderson has struggled to get anything going or find any rhythm on the ground all season long. A time-share between he and Devontae Booker has gone back and forth with no signs that either player would take the reigns for good. Frankly, he has had a disappointing season.
When you add this reality to the fact that the Colts run defense has started to really stiffen up over the last few weeks (blizzard bowl excluded), the outlook was not good for Denver on the ground. For some reason, the Broncos didn’t care about outlooks and rode C.J. Anderson for 30 carries that went for 158 yards — a 5.3 yards per carry average. The Colts defense gave up 213 yards rushing overall for the day.
If the failure of the run defense wasn’t enough, the Broncos had four receivers with receptions of 20 yards are more in the game. Tight in Jeff Heuerman (who-er-man?) beat Matthias Farley up the seam for a 54 yard touchdown. Former Indiana Hoosier Cody Latimer caught 3 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Neither of the Colts rookie corners looked particularly promising.
In many respects, the biggest highlights for the Colts offense came during its first drive of the game and in the two field goals Adam Vinatieri hit. It is fair to say that fans have more reasons to be excited about Vinatieri’s field goals than the touchdown given the highly publicized clause in his contract that will put an extra $500,000 in his pocket if he can get back over 90% accuracy for the season.
Go get ‘em Vinny.
What might be the most encouraging sign for the Colts offense is that Jacoby Brissett looked to get the ball out of his hands quicker, at least early in the game. There were more underneath routes and dump-off options that created some positive situations at times. It was all too little, too late to have relevance for the season and it wasn’t enough to win the game but the offense has been missing this element so I suppose it is something to take away from the game.
With this loss the Colts move to 3-11. They will travel to Baltimore to face another tough defense next week and will close out their season at home against a disappointing Houston Texans team.
We will forgive you if neither of those games gets you particularly you excited. However, we encourage you to stick around for the fireworks. Something tells us that the Colts will be far more interesting to follow after the season ends.