Colts vs Patriots: Next Day Analysis


We don’t overreact at Horseshoe Heroes. We’re here to give you a realistic breakdown of the Colts after each and every game.

The Indianapolis Colts may have lost to the New England Patriots last night, but it could have been a lot worse. All week we heard about how the Pats were out for revenge and would utterly dominate the Colts. That didn’t happen, and now we’re left talking about the poor execution on one play in what turned out to be a one score game.

While it was a loss, and ensured that the Colts won’t have home field advantage in the playoffs (we already knew that), there were some encouraging signs. The offense wasn’t a complete waste of time, and the Colts didn’t turn the ball over (aside from on downs). The defense, on the other hand, has some serious issues.

Here’s what stood out from last night:

  • Passes Sprayed. Throughout his career, Andrew Luck has had a tendency to be a bit loose with his passes and at times will be a bit off of target or sail his throws. This usually lasts maybe a few series, but we’ve seen it happen in all four of his games this season. I didn’t see anything that indicated that his shoulder isn’t healthy, he had a number of completions that absolutely beautiful, but in crunch time more than a few passes were too high for his receivers. Luck might have some lingering issues with his arm, and certainly has a bit of rust to knock off, but that wasn’t the issue last night.
    • We’ve also seen a bit of regression from Luck this year, prompting many to qualify him as just a turnover prone average QB. That isn’t true, but some of his habits are troubling. He’s locking in on receivers and not progressing through his reads. Luck’s often locking in on receivers 10-plus yards downfield as well and not finding the checkdown. It feels like Luck is pressing more often than not, feeling as if he has to win the game on each series. It could also be the collection of hits he’s taken behind a perpetually weak offensive line (although he had a lot of time on most of his dropbacks last night). Whatever happens in the offseason with the coaches and front office, the number one goal should be to bring someone in who can kickstart Luck’s development going forward.
  • Zero Pressure. Right now, the Colts don’t have anything resembling a pass rush. There were a few times they got close to Tom Brady, but he’s one of the best at subtle pocket moves to get the pass off. At this point, the Colts aren’t even attempting to generate a pass rush. One of the two sacks came from a safety blitz off the edge. Robert Mathis was on  the field for 18 plays and Trent Cole has been completely ineffective (and was offsides twice last night). This is an ongoing problem for the Colts and will continue to be one as they face a slew of talented pocket passers over the next month.
  • Zero Coverage. The Colts simply can’t cover the middle of the field. They are being eaten alive on crossing routes and seem to refuse to make adjustments. Last night the Colts failed to contest most receptions and the Patriots ate them alive on short passing plays. It has been a problem all season long and against talented QBs, the Colts will be picked apart slowly just like they were last night.
  • Bad Philosophy. The Colts needed to improve their run defense in the offseason, but more importantly needed to develop a pass rush and cover the middle of the field. Instead, the Colts have built a team that is designed to run the ball and stop the run, which would be great in 1975. Both Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson seem to want to focus on the run, when the NFL has become a passing league. As long as the next front office or coaching staff wants to focus on passing the ball and stopping the pass, then the Colts will be fine.
  • Poor Execution. So much attention is being paid to the Colts horrid 4-and-3 punt formation, abomination or whatever it was. The idea was to get the Pats flustered to either commit a penalty or call timeout. Instead, Griff Whalen hiked the ball and the Colts gave the Pats a short field. It was a deflating moment, but wasn’t the end of the game. New England quickly extended their lead to 13 after the play, but the Colts had the ball four more times before the end of the game and only managed to score once. Bad play calling on the part of the Pats helped give the Colts a shot, but that play wasn’t the deciding factor last night.
  • Worse Officiating. Donte Moncrief recovered the onside kick attempt in the second quarter. He was clearly at the bottom of the pile and came out with the ball. I have no idea how you can look at that any other way, even the reply showed him holding the ball as he was covered up. There was nothing in the replay that showed a Patriots player ever coming close to holding onto the ball. Yet the Pats were given possession. The NFL has an officiating problem, and at some point needs to address the issue (I’d vote for a post game press conference with the officials and it being a year round job).

Next: Colts vs Patriots: After Further Review