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A Season From Hell

The 2022 Colts are almost a thing of the past and I couldn’t be happier

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

This Colts season has been a roller coaster with predominantly lows. This season began with ringing endorsements in training camp from the media (myself included) and experts about this team being a potential sleeper. Since then, it has progressed to falling flat on its face from the middle to the end of this season. It’s been quite an experience. This fan base has suffered extensively for several reasons. Whether it’s poor offensive line play, poor coaching, poor construction of a roster, or poor ownership, anything and everything has gone wrong for the 2022 Indianapolis Colts.

The season started off disappointing, primarily because of the offensive line (more on that later). They tied on opening day with the worst team in the league and were shut out in Jacksonville in what was hyped up to be a revenge game. As we all recall, the Jags ruined the Colts’ playoff hopes last season. The Colts responded by winning two of their next three, with one of those being a very respectable win against the Chiefs. With 3 division games played at that point of the season, and the Colts having lost all 3, the seat for Frank Reich was getting warm. While we didn’t know it at the time, Irsay was getting very antsy. Reich didn’t know it, but his fate was tied to one unit: Chris Ballard’s pride and joy, the Offensive Line.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Early in the season, the frustration was around how poorly the offensive line was playing. The unit Chris Ballard made the highest-paid unit in the NFL failed him the most. Matt Pryor, who was the starter at Left Tackle, was consistently embarrassed and was clearly the weakest link on the line. During the off-season, Ballard paid Pryor on a prove-it deal, 1 year for $6 million. He played well below the contract and eventually, he became unplayable and was moved to the bench in favor of rookie Bernhard Raimann. As bad as Pryor was, another player that didn’t perform up to par was guard/backup center Danny Pinter. Pinter is a former tackle from Ball State that the Colts selected in the 5th round. Despite having no experience on the interior, the Colts thought his best fit was at C/G. Danny got the start opening week at the right guard position and immediately struggled. Powerful interior players gave him fits as he had trouble anchoring and preventing himself from getting driven back or blatantly run over. Pinter was eventually replaced by Will Fries, who is not perfect by any means but appears to be an adequate replacement. If I’m going to credit Jeff Saturday for getting anything right, it’s making Raimann the permanent starter and cleaning up the communication issues that the offensive line had early on.

NFL: Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Jeff Saturday hire was peak disappointment for me as a Colts fan. Not only was Marcus Brady scapegoated for the offensive struggles that Matt Ryan and the offensive line were having, but he wasn’t the only one. Frank Reich was scapegoated as well. It’s not that I don’t think he should have been fired (I think things had run their course) but to be fired over the phone and replaced by a guy with no collegiate or NFL experience was just irresponsible. Several coaches throughout the league I spoke to were very disappointed in Irsay and one high-profile candidate who will be interviewing for head coaching jobs this cycle said “Bruh it’s beyond disrespectful. I can’t take any interview there seriously anymore”. It’s nothing Saturday should take personally, as he was just showing up for someone he loves, but the process of him getting that job was just a mess.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Saturday era began with him reinstating Matt Ryan as the starter (you know a season is bad when you can recap a season and not even mention that a potential hall-of-fame quarterback was benched). The team responded with a huge win against the Vegas Raiders and even played the NFC’s number 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles very tough the following week. After another loss against the Steelers on Monday Night Football, the true embarrassment really began. The Colts who were down by two points going into the 4th quarter of a primetime game against the Dallas Cowboys got outscored 33-0 in the final quarter to lose the game 54-19. If that wasn’t enough, the Colts followed that up by blowing the largest lead in NFL history. The Colts who were up 33-0 against the Minnesota Vikings had a historic collapse and lost 39-36. You’d think that would be the bottom, but it’s not, because, well, it’s the Colts. The team returned to prime time against the Chargers and had one of the worst offensive games (by ANY team) this season. They scored 3 points and had an offensive output of 173 total yards while going 0-10 on 3rd downs. Without even mentioning last week’s 28-point loss to the Giants, you can safely say that the Colts have been the worst team in the league for weeks. Jeff Saturday is a Colts legend, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person, but as a coach, it’s imperative that Irsay brings someone in that is more qualified.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not all bad news, though: For the first time since 2018, the Colts will have a pick in the top 6 and are set to be in a prime position to draft a franchise quarterback, something that Ballard has neglected to do since he’s become General Manager. The Colts have some major decisions to make in the coming weeks but first, they have a game to play against the Texans. I find it fitting that the Colts end the season with the team that started this misery. Who knows? With a bit of luck, maybe this season lands us Jim Harbaugh and CJ Stroud, then it would all be worth it.