Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans: Next Day Analysis

Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on the sideline during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on the sideline during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts are falling off a cliff, unable to hold onto a lead that most teams would be able to expand on. The Colts continually find new ways to lose this season, but this one might have been the worst.

During the mid-2000s, a 14-point lead late in the fourth would have been insurmountable for Colts’ opponents. Even a year or two ago 14 points would have been enough for the Colts to leave with a win.

But that was then. The Colts beat themselves on Sunday night, make no mistake. Whether it was bad decisions by the quarterback, poor coaching and play calling, or an over the hill roster with a distinct lack of playmakers it all adds up to the same failure.

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All of the flaws that have plagued this team for five years were on display last night. The only difference is that the Colts were leading most of the night. They actually got out to a hot start but missed opportunities to push the lead.

Chuck Pagano talked about “having a killer instinct … and finishing off opponents” but that starts with the coaching and play calling. If the team doesn’t have a “win at all costs” mentality like they should, what does it say about the team’s management? That has to be instilled from the top down.

The Colts have had a never quit attitude for years with Pagano, but they’ve been forced into that due to his antiquated strategies on football. He would have been fired years ago had his team kept rolling over. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Colts under his leadership don’t know how to finish off an opponent.

The blame for Sunday’s loss can be spread among a few culprits:

  • Andrew Luck. He made some terrible decisions and cost the team at least three points with his interception. There were also a couple passes that got away from him, but the bigger issue was how he dealt with pressure. Luck gave up 15 yards on one sack, but was bailed out by a facemask penalty. He has a nasty habit of making a bad play worse by fighting too hard or not just getting the ball out. It certainly doesn’t help that the Colts keep calling plays with seven step drops that set Luck up for failure either.
    • One of the big issues with Luck is his presnap read. He doesn’t appear to make adjustments to what the defense is presenting. That leads to Luck being reactive instead of proactive. It doesn’t feel like he audibles all that often and you have to wonder how much freedom he has at the line of scrimmage.
  • Chuck Pagano. Over six minutes to play with a 14 point lead on the road, what do you do? If you answered run the ball and go into your prevent defense, congratulations, Pagano wants to add you to his staff! The Colts had been fairly aggressive with tighter coverage and more pressure against Brock Osweiler for the majority of the game, and he wasn’t able to adjust. Then they backed off, played it safe and he suddenly started picking the defense apart. The Texans, conversely, stayed aggressive, even in the final minute or regulation and OT, and it paid off.
    • Ryan Grigson. He’s always to blame for the state of the defense since he’s done a terrible job of building this unit. Pinning the team’s pass rush hopes on a 35-year old with an achilles made of duct tape and superglue is a terrible idea. Not re-signing the one linebacker with coverage skills also a terrible idea. Blaming Luck’s brand new contract for the state of the defense, also a terrible idea and not true. Pagano and Grigson have done a terrible job for the Colts and it is past time for a change.
  • Trust. Pagano said this week “we have a good defense.” That is categorically false and the fact that the media didn’t laugh him out of the room is surprising. Pagano has had far too much faith in one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, it cost them in Week 1 and again Sunday night. Pagano needs to treat every game as if his defense is going to give up 30 and plan accordingly on offense. He doesn’t and it costs this team every week.

The Colts will have a chance next week to notch their first division win of the season when the travel to Tennessee to face the Titans. Maybe they come away with a win or perhaps they’ll find a new, horrible way to lose a game.