I've been quiet all season... Well, with the exception of tweeting with @TheBlueMare every game day. I've decided it's time to make my voice heard, on this site and hopefully will be heard on other media around the area. And maybe even by the Colts.
After today's game against the New Orleans Saints, I've got to say this is not the same Colts team that has had me cheering and yelling so loud that I startle my sister and nephew, and make my mother proud. I've actually gone hoarse, sitting in my mother's living room, as if my voice can be heard downtown. I know it can't, and if I could attend games, I know that I would make myself heard.
Today's game was proof once again, as each game this season has shown, that there is something way out of sync with our Horseshoe Warriors. All three phases have been affected, by what I'm not certain, but it seems to be deeply rooted and while we hold a lead in our own division, it's not what our team is only known for, and I must say it's also not what we need to make past the first game in the playoffs.
On defense, blown coverages, soft coverage, and complete lack of follow through, to not being able to set a real edge consistently, our defense has been allowing other teams to run all over them. They're allowing an average of 24.5 ppg, 401.8ypg, and a total of 59 penalties for the season so far. These are stats we expect to see at the end of the season, not only 7 weeks in. And there is seemingly no improvement in sight, as they are really running out of "Next Men Up" players. If they can't get healthy, stay healthy and show consistent play, I don't see it getting any better before the postseason.
On Offense, averaging 21ppg is usually not a bad thing, but with 13 out of 16 other AFC offenses scoring higher up to 3.66 points more per game, and the team being 3-4 after today, it's not looking good. Dropping passes, fumbling catches, and just not being where the pass is being thrown, or the QB not putting the ball in reach of the target, this is not the way to score points. Our offensive line has been through changes, and even mix-and-match shakeups, they're getting stronger and more consistent, but not on par with the expectations for the season, and today allowed our Franchise QB to get sacked four times. And speaking of our Franchise Quarterback, Andrew Luck has been a leader, and unshakable force until this season. After a less than stellar start, then having a shoulder injury and missing two games, his form has not been what it once was in the past two games back. His throws have not been the lasers we've come to expect, and all season his time to throw has been longer than normal. It's amazing what one second can do to a developing play, never mind 2 to 4. I'm not sure what's happening with Luck, but he's got to figure it out, because Clyde Christensen and Pep Hamilton don't seem to be helping him figure it out.
On Special Teams, well, there's been some good days, some really good days, and some really really bad days. I know the blown fake punt just isn't going to go away anytime soon, as commentators are just having too much fun laughing at it. And today's volleyball-like onside kick didn't help, but mainly our Special Teams group seem to be just beginning to hit their stride. They are called the 4th Down Army for a reason, and whil Adam Vinatieri's reliable PAT and FG percentage is low for this point in the season (he's currently 28th in the league?), there's no reason to believe he will be anything but "Mr. Reliable" for the remainder of the season. Pat MacAfee is called "Boomstick" for a reason, and he proves that nickname is spot on week after week. Griff Whalen has finally started to become more aggressive in his kickoff and punt returns, garnering him some well deserved attention this season. The group as a whole seem to be coming together with the "One Team One Focus" mentality that the remainder of the team don't seem to have a handle on quite yet.
I understand Coach Pagano is taking the brunt of the flack for the lack his team has been exhibiting, as a good leader should. But there are other leadership problems in the coaching staff, and they need to step up and take their fair share of the responsibility for not getting their squads truly prepared to face each team each week. Making certain your group is prepared for the team they're facing each week is the task, and it's not showing in the errors that are being made on the field week after week. So while Pagano is taking his fair share of the responsibility for his team, there is certainly enough to go around.
There may be a fundamental chemistry issue with this team as well. It seems to me that there were some personnel changes early on that were a bit surprising to me personally. And usually, you hear about the players that come to Indianapolis to play for the Colts being referred to as "Horseshoe Guys". I'm not hearing that this season. I'm not seeing players grouping together to discuss plays, or sitting/standing together when not on the field. I see a lot of guys walking off by themselves, sitting by themselves. This is what the camera guys show so much of, and it's just not "normal" Colts behavior.
All that being said, I'll stand by this team no matter what. I watched the Mayflower trucks roll into town and cheered. I watch and or listen to every game and cheer. Some day I hope to be able to attend games and cheer. I am a "Horseshoe" kind of gal, and really, truly, fervently hope that the Colts can pull it together, and quickly, as this season is not going to get any easier, and it's not as long as they think.