The Indianapolis Colts lost for the first time at home against Houston Texans, and it likely cost them the division as well.
That very well could be a wrap on the season. After 14 attempts, the Texans finally won a game in Indianapolis.
A game where the Colts starting quarterback had no business on the football field. A game where the Texans were able to lead scoring drives with their fourth string quarterback. And yet another game where the Colts seemed to fail at the basics of football.
For four years now this team has had to rely on the brilliance of one young player to come away with wins. They’ve had to rally around Andrew Luck as he slings the Colts over his shoulders and wills them towards victory. This team is laughably more reliant on Luck than it ever was on Peyton Manning.
Matt Hasselbeck was a shell of a football player Sunday. He looked a zombie in the post game press conference and even said “I got nothing left.” He was battered about and should not have been let back into the game. Injuries aside, Hasselbeck has played poorly down the stretch and missed far too many easy passes.
Injuries are not a good enough excuse for this team. Especially when a lot of these injuries are a result of bad scheme and roster construction. For a team that has perpetually led the division, you would think they might have enough talent to defeat the Jaguars, with a criminally bad defense, and the Texans, with a third and fourth string QB.
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It has been a miserable season for the Colts. Even when Luck was healthy, it was still tough to watch an offense that had no idea what it wanted to do on the field and wasn’t fielding its best possible unit (thanks to meddling with the offensive line). The Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the same man who built the best passing attack in football in 2014, and replaced him with Rob Chudzinski who simply isn’t accomplishing anything.
The only positive I can take away from yesterday’s game is Quan Bray as a return man. He was electric and the special teams unit looked much better this week, even on the defensive side. Bray was great in camp but couldn’t make a crowded receiver roster. It looks like he’s found a niche and hopefully he can stick with the team going forward (instead of say, Griff Whalen).
And after all the misery of the past few weeks (and this whole season) the Colts could still make the playoffs. They are at Miami next week and home against the Titans to close the regular season. The Texans will be at Tennessee this week and host the Jaguars in Week 17. With Brandon Weeden at the helm, the Texans will be struggling to find points and there is a chance they drop the final two game of the year.
If Luck returns this week (a big ‘if’ and also a ‘why bother?’), the Colts could find a way to win their final two. That would vault them into an AFC South title and playoff berth. And while I wouldn’t want to put money on the Colts to make noise in the playoffs, and would likely make a large wager against them, anything can happen in January. We’ve seen sixth seed teams cruise to the Super Bowl and win it. At the very least, the Colts would have another home game.
But that is an unlikely series of events. And even if they do miraculously make the playoffs, should that save anyone’s job?
This front office and coaching staff are done. They have to be. The fans deserve better. GM Ryan Grigson has made so many awful moves, it would be easier to point out the ones that worked. The Trent Richardson trade, bad draft picks, even worse free agent signings, and we haven’t even gotten to him meddling with the starting lineups.
Coach Chuck Pagano is not meant to be a head coach in the NFL. There were reports of Pagano being a highly sought after coach after the season is over and I ask why? Do you really want a coach who doesn’t make adjustments, who gets routinely blown out three to five times every season, and has to resort to gimmicks to motivate players?
Seriously, he gave every player a poker chip and said they’re “all-in” on the season. This is high school levels of motivation. Pagano is dealing with grown men and if they can’t self motivate, then how did they make it to the NFL. There are reports of how much the players like and respect Pagano, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a bad coach. He has dated philosophies and doesn’t seem to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his team.
Two more weeks and we can expect big changes from Jim Irsay. If not, it will be another year of misery.