It seems that in the blink of an eye the Colts have taken a sudden turn for the worse. Some predicted this eventual downfall, whilst others seem to be taken aback or in denial of any imperfections.
Obviously, this article is going to take a closer look at what the Colts do going forward. And for that reason, the discussion is going to be dominated by Brissett’s play. I’ll try and minimize the QB talk, but considering how significant of a piece it is in the Colts future, it’s impossible to completely step around.
Regarding the last game, I think Brissett played well, demonstrating an ability to throw the ball a little deeper down the field. There were a couple of bad reads that the Titans defense capitalized on, but overall I think it was a step in the right direction.
Now let’s take a look at some possible avenues the Colts could go down in the upcoming weeks.
Tank (0-4 down the stretch)
There are some that believe Ballard and Co. have actually been tanking for a few weeks now and are just disguising it with a blanket of injuries. The ideal tank is composed of losing close games while giving the younger players/depth some in-game experience to accelerate their learning curve and increase their in-game IQ. If the Colts are, in fact, following this approach then they are succeeding extravagantly. Over the last 6 games, the Colts have accumulated a 2-4 record with a cumulative point differential of -1.
Continuing to tank the rest of the way would allow the Colts to finish with a 6-10 record and draft in the 8-11 range, giving them an increased probability of drafting a blue chip, game-changing player. Players like CeeDee Lamb, Justin Herbert, and Tristian Wirfs suddenly become options.
The downsides to this scenario are that one, tanking is a bit morally shady, even without considering the fact that playing a game with the intention to lose is not exactly the type of locker room culture Ballard wants to build. Two, we’re in for four more weeks of disappointing and gloomy Sunday afternoons.
Split the Wins (2-2 down the stretch)
Far and away the worst scenario. Before the start of the season, I projected that the Colts would go 6-10 (which is an unlikely ending now); however, in that same piece, I said that the worst thing that could happen to the Colts is that they would finish 8-8 and be stuck in football purgatory. Not bad enough to land elite talent but also not good enough to make a legit playoff run. An 8-8 record would have the team picking in the 17-19 range (where they are currently slotted) and would give them the option to draft some of the prospects you are so often hearing about: Raekwon Davis, Trevon Diggs, Tee Higgins, etc.
Overall, this outcome would leave the Colts at the doorstep of the playoffs with a low pick. Lose-Lose scenario. In all honesty, the moment they lose one of the following 4 games (I’ve got the Saints matchup circled on my calendar) they should probably wrap it up and try to get the highest draft slot possible.
Win out (4-0 down the stretch)
Probably the most unlikely of outcomes (again, Saints matchup in two weeks); however, like anything in life, not impossible. I could see the Colts beating Tampa Bay. The Saints game might require a miracle to win, but the Colts beat the Chiefs this season when no one gave them a shot. The Panther’s game is a toss-up since they have a well-rounded roster but an average QB (sounds familiar) and they just fired their HC. Finally, the colts clobbered the Jaguars a few weeks back, but Gardner “Mustache Man” Minshew is back at the helm, and football is a game of momentum so they could be facing a whole new team.
At 10-6 The colts would, worst-case scenario, be a wildcard and would have to face an uphill battle. However, one of the advantages of the Cardiac Colts is that not only can they lose to anyone, but they can also beat anyone. So, if they can get their foot in the door, I think there is a plausible chance that the Colts can maybe knock one or two teams out of contention.
Every single game from now means everything. Sitting at 6-6, the Colts are simultaneously in the playoff and the draft hunt. Like I previously stated, the moment they lose one more game, they should probably shut the season down, because (unless you play in the NFC East) you aren’t making the playoffs at 9-7.