The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Pro Sports

November 25, 2013

George Bremer: No easy answers for Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in an early two-score deficit.

The agonizingly slow starts that have haunted the team all month peaked again Sunday with a 27-3 halftime deficit leading to an embarrassing 40-11 loss at Arizona.

Indianapolis has been outscored 93-12 in the first half of its last four games — dating back to Nov. 3 at Houston — and it's lost two of its last three games by a combined 59 points. The two wins in that stretch required comebacks of 18 points against the Texans and 14 against Tennessee, who will face the Colts in a rematch this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium.

So fans can be forgiven if the team's 7-4 record feels closer to 5-6, and if a two-game lead over the Titans in the AFC South currently is of little comfort.

Injuries have hampered the team since a 5-2 start was capped Oct. 20 with a 39-33 victory against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. But it's hard to fathom a fall this dramatic.

And there appear to be no easy answers.

"You can't go to Wal-Mart and buy a pill for this," inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman told the media Monday. "You got to go out there and work and just work towards our goals, and we should be okay."

Defense is a good place to start looking for a cure.

The Colts allowed scores on four of Arizona's six first-half drives Sunday, and a fifth ended with a blocked field goal. That's no way to support an offense that was missing six significant contributors — including four starters.

But the offense can't escape blame, going 0-for-5 on third down in the first half and adding to the woes with an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"The things that we knew we had to do, we just didn't execute well and get them taken care of," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. "We'll go back to work. We got to put it behind us."

Indianapolis was running the ball well when it was winning games early in the season. Pagano often points to that dropoff as a major area for improvement. But the lack of success in the running game — the Colts gained just 80 yards on the ground Sunday — is more likely a symptom of the team's overall troubles than a cause.

Early deficits have caused Indianapolis to go to the air on nearly every snap. That further exposes a struggling offensive line and puts added pressure on a slumping receiving corps. That, in turn, leads to shorter possessions and more punts and rushes the embattled defense back onto the field.

Nothing happens in the NFL in a vacuum. Everything is connected.

And the Colts are ensnared in a vicious circle.

"The margin for error is small right now," Pagano said.

If things don't improve quickly, the team's playoff outlook will match.

1
Text Only
Pro Sports
  • SPT - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 007 CB Darius Butler holds tight to No. 20 The number 20 has grown to mean something to Darius Butler. The former second-round pick was running out of chances when the Indianapolis Colts signed him during the 2012 season. Eleven starts and eight interceptions later, he’s ingrained as the team’s slot cornerback — working under the final season of a two-year, $4 million deal.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_3703.JPG Colts Quick Hits: Friday, July 25

    Notes, news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-080.jpg Colts Camp Update: Colts urging caution with vets, injured players

    Reggie Wayne isn't the only veteran player whose snaps are being watched as practice begins at Indianapolis Colts training camp.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-128.jpg Luck plans to use preseason time wisely

    Managing the situations that crop up during a football game is at the top of Andrew Luck's to-do list. But his more immediate concern is maximizing every snap of training camp at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colts Camp Football_Brem.jpg Colts Camp Blog: Reggie returns and other musings

    News and notes of interest from Colts Training Camp in Anderson.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0725 - Newsome - JC - 1 Former BSU star Newsome ready to prove his worth

    Jonathan Newsome knows what it feels like to be a spectator at the Indianapolis Colts' training camp. He spent one day in each of the past two summers watching practice alongside his Ball State teammates. When the first public practice of 2014 begins today at 1:50 p.m., Newsome — a fifth-round pick in May's draft — will be on the other side of the fence as a rookie outside linebacker earning his stripes.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0725 - Getting healthy - JC - 3 Colts getting healthy as training camp opens Reggie Wayne's arrival Wednesday in an IndyCar driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Ed Carpenter drew national attention. But the most important news coming out of reporting day for the Indianapolis Colts concerned the wide receiver's health.

    July 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0725 - Colts arrive - JC - 315a.jpg Colts arrive for training camp

    VIDEO: Reggie Wayne's arrival in a two-seat IndyCar driven by Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Ed Carpenter highlighted Colts players' arrival at Anderson University Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0723 - Pagano art Colts' 'monster' now preparing to 'hunt'

    There's a different kind of buzz surrounding the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare to report for training camp today at Anderson University. Expectations have been high inside the locker room since Chuck Pagano arrived in January 2012 and promised shortly thereafter to "Build the Monster." Two 11-win seasons and one playoff victory later, the mantra has changed.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0722 - Stuckey art Pacers face uphill battle after signing Stuckey Last week, the Indiana Pacers lost Lance Stephenson. On Monday, they replaced one of the NBA's best young players with shooting guard Rodney Stuckey.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo