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Colts Winners and Losers: Week 1 at Rams

Hint: They’re Mostly Losers

Indianapolis Colts v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It took me a full day of stewing over Sunday’s pathetic loss to get to a place where I could write about the “winners” and losers. Since posting a list of the roster seemed lazy, I figured I would try to be positive and find some winners. It only kind of worked.

“Winner” – Run Defense

As far as run defense goes, the Colts did well enough here. They held the Rams to 63 yards rushing and Todd Gurley to 40 yards and 2.1 yards per carry. I guess that is something. Although since the Rams were able to do whatever they wanted to through the air, they decided to go that route as their main source of offense.

Loser – Chuck Pagano

If there were any doubters still wondering what Chuck has got left to show us, here it is. Stare into the maddening void of stupidity. He utterly blew a basic challenge and robbed his team of a touchdown. Was it a bad call on the field by the official? Of course. But every other coach in the NFL listens to his front office and decides that the best course of action is to slow down until you’ve got a good view of things and then throw the challenge flag. Easy. Just not for Chuck.

He even doubled down on his own stupidity in his presser today when he said the following:

Pagano is so stupid he doesn’t even understand how Kryptonite works.

There have been plenty of people stating how poorly Chuck coached, so I won’t run that one into the ground, but it was bad. He seems to be actually getting worse at his job as he goes. In my mind, the only question that remains is if he can keep his job through the season or if we will see a midseason replacement. (For my money, losing to the 49ers on Peyton Manning night will do the trick.)

“Winner” - Jacoby Brissett

If there is any player you want to follow on the field at QB it is Scott Tolzien. Brissett pretty much couldn’t lose when he took the field to replace him. I cannot imagine a scenario where he doesn’t get the start against the Cardinals next week. But then, I couldn’t imagine a situation where Pagano would do something as stupid as the fake punt call either and it remains burned in my brain for all eternity, so there’s that.

Brissett is not the second coming of Joe Montana or anything, but the guy has an NFL arm, which is more than you can say for Tolzien. Depending on how quickly he can get up to speed on the Colts playbook, he might even be able to salvage the dumpster fire Tolzien set ablaze.

Loser – Marlon Mack

Marlon Mack had his stat line destroyed by his awful coach, which definitely makes him a loser in this debacle of a first game. Mack looked good, although not otherworldly in his first appearance in real NFL action, if this game qualifies as that. His swing pass for what should have been a touchdown was good, although I’d have liked to see him put his head down and run through the defender rather than get stood up and pushed out of bounds.

Dana White tells fighters in the UFC never to leave the fight up to the judges. The same attitude should be taken with regard to Chuck. Never leave a play in that guy’s hands, he will mess it up.

Mack also had the ball ripped out of his hands for a safety late in the game, and struggled once the Rams defense learned that he and Frank Gore were the Colts’ only hope of moving the ball without a defensive touchdown being scored.

“Winner” – Andrew Luck

While all of this incompetence is raging, Luck is sitting comfortably on the sideline not getting crushed by massive defenders. For all the talk of his competitive spirit and how much he is dying to get back on the field, we have to believe that Luck is tired of Chuck Pagano. Deep down in a place where he will never show the media, the guy has to be pleased to think this might be the last season he has to endure the man’s terrible coaching and endless supply of cliches.

Luck is a very smart guy. It matters to him that this team is seen for what it is: inept, devoid of talent, and in a complete rebuild. If this team somehow outperformed its real talent level it might further kick the can down the road on a coaching change, and without that change, they cannot hope to develop their young players and build a roster that Luck can win with.

Loser – Chris Ballard

That brings us to the general manager. Ballard has to bear some responsibility for roster weaknesses and mistakes. If Ballard knew there was a chance that Luck would miss time, it was absolutely his responsibility to make sure that there was a competent backup in place to run the Colts’ offense. He decided to move forward with Scott Tolzien anyway.

That means one of two things. Either Ballard is a poor talent evaluator and legitimately believes Tolzien provides a solid option, or he is lying, knows how bad Tolzien is, and chose to go with him anyway despite the consequences. Either way, not a great look.

Also, you have to look at some of Ballard’s free agent acquisitions without rose-colored glasses to realize that some of them are not producing at the level they’re being paid. Looking at you Sheard. I certainly don’t think he has done a poor job but it is fair to remind ourselves that he is new, and at this point there is no guarantee he has made the right moves.

No matter how it turns out, Ballard set the Colts up to fail by waiting until the week before the regular season to acquire a decent backup to Luck, so he gets a loser rating here.

Loser – T.J. Green

To be fair, this could read, “The whole secondary.” I’m not deep diving into this one. Can anyone tell me what this guy does well? I haven’t seen it yet. Being an athletic freak doesn’t exactly qualify you to start on an NFL roster.

Green can’t even seem to distinguish between his own team and others when he comes barreling in for a glancing blow that doesn’t actually stop the ball carrier. His coverage was bad, his tackling was worse. He is not a good football player. Quincy Wilson should have gotten the start and it boggles my mind to try to understand how personnel decisions are being made in that building.

Loser – T.Y. Hilton

Great receivers step up when their team needs them. Hilton couldn’t do it Sunday. He coughed up the ball on a play where he tried to get cute rather than just get the first down. I get that Tolzien is not an NFL caliber quarterback, and that has to be taken into account, but he has a tendency to disappear against good defenses and this game was no exception. You can’t have the best player on the field relegated to a non-factor in a game like this. He has to do better.

Loser – Colts Fans

It is one thing to lose to a bad team. It is another to get steamrolled by one. The Rams are not a good team. The Colts are just so terribly bad that they were able to make it look that way. The fact that fans have to endure another lackluster year when we have one of the most prodigious quarterbacks of this generation on our football team is tragic.

We don’t know when our star will be back, and worse than that, we are forced to hope he won’t be back too soon because the roster around him might get him hurt worse.

All the while we are subjected to the “What Stupid Thing Will He Do This Week Show” starring Chuck the Wood Chopper and his merry men. It is hard to even enjoy the crop of rookies who legitimately might be future stars because we have to assume they aren’t developing at the pace they should, given the track record with our coaching staff.

Really there are no winners here. This was a terrible game to watch and all in all, a pretty crappy week to be a Colts fan.