The Indianapolis Colts suffered another blowout loss to a playoff team Sunday night. The New England Patriots were able to move the ball at will.
The Colts now sit at 6-4, and have lost all virtual hope of a bye week in the playoffs. Denver already had a tie breaker, and now New England has one as well. The Colts have the fourth seed right now and would host the Chiefs if the playoffs began today.
More surprising, the Colts have just a one game lead over the Texans who are 5-5.
Andrew Luck played a solid game, but he would have to put in an all time great performance for the Colts to win last night. He had zero help from the rest of the team. The Colts couldn’t run the ball to save their lives (Luck led the team with 15 yards rushing) and the defense was atrocious.
Here’s what stood out from Sunday:
- Flaws. We’ve known all season that the Colts have a few issues on defense. Three weeks ago, the Steelers picked apart the secondary by forcing them to play zone. This week, the Patriots exposed the team’s inability to stop the run.
- Jonas Gray Domination. There is no reason that a rookie like Gray should have been able to dominate like he did last night. We saw player out of position to stop him and the front seven getting completely blown off the line. You can see D’Qwell Jackson out of position in the above picture, and he was hardly the only one in that position. Zero penetration by the line led to a career day by Gray, and a new low for Chuck Pagano’s defense.
- More Luck, Less Running. The Colts didn’t come anywhere near a successful running game. Every run play in the second half was essentially donating a down to the Pats. Luck continues to impress, but if he had something resembling a reliable rushing attack this would be a truly dangerous offense.
- Brady? Something I never thought I would write, but Tom Brady kept the Colts in the game for the first half. He was awful, throwing two of the worst interceptions you will ever see. He took a few big hits, but settled down in the second have was 9-for-10 downfield. It says something about the defense when Mike Adams comes away with two interceptions and still gets negative reviews.
- Big Plays. Coby Fleener was one of the few Colts who actually produced last night. He is a frustrating player since we know he could dominate like last night every game, but simply doesn’t. When Fleener is dialed in, he can take the top off a defense but far too often fails on the easy plays. His sideline catch was beautiful, now Fleener just needs to play close to that level every week.
- Where’s Moncrief? While Hakeem Nicks had a nice touchdown reception, he still doesn’t offer nearly the same skill set as Donte Moncrief. Luck barely overthrew Moncrief for a touchdown (a play that he should have likely laid out for) and that made it clear that he needs more than nine snaps in a game.
- Injuries. The loss of Dwayne Allen for a few weeks will hurt but not as much as losing Ahmad Bradshaw for likely the rest of the season. Bradshaw was easily the team’s best runner and most dangerous threat in the red zone. The good news is the Colts have two home games against inferior opponents to iron out the likely problems as the offense adjusts.
- Preparation? The Colts came out flat in a game they had two weeks to prepare for. The Patriots had the 31st ranked rushing offense per DVOA heading into the game, but Sunday’s performance might vault them into the top 10. Bill Belichick does a great job of preparing and exploiting flaws, Pagano does not. The number of times in the past two seasons that the Colts defense has opened a game flat and unprepared is appalling. This isn’t anything new, just a troubling trend.
- What is Pass Interference? I’m asking so that I can explain it to the officials. The calls were awful for both sides with plays like T.Y. Hilton getting bounced between defenders or Fleener pushing off from his man weren’t made. On a side note, it is amazing what Darrelle Revis gets away with. He tugs and holds more than anyone at the position, yet never gets called for it. There were times when last night was reminiscent of the 2003 AFC Championship game at New England. It never got that bad, but it certainly felt like it at times.
The good news is that the Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington over the next two weeks. The schedule gods did this team a lot of favors and the Colts have time to get back on the right track after a rough loss.