Colts fans, do not rejoice just yet. Yes, the hometown heroes did pick up a much needed win against the Chicago Bears last Sunday by a score of 29-23. Don’t put too much weight on this victory, as the Bears are one of the few teams struggling more than the Colts this season. The agony of the 2016-2017 season is just beginning for Indianapolis. What began as a season brimming with hope of a Super Bowl ring has quickly turned to sour play from a foul football team. The question is, why are the Colts playing so poorly?
Many fans are quick to blame quarterback Andrew Luck, as the position is usually the scapegoat. Luck, however, is one of the few bright spots for the team. It is a wonder that he is even still standing. The Colts front office has done a pitiful job of building around the franchise cornerstone Luck. The line put in front of him is porous as paper, allowing an astronomical 20 sacks through five games. No quarterback should get sacked four times in a game.
Even when he isn’t getting slammed to the ground by 300 pound defensive linemen, Luck has to avoid them. Luck is hurried or forced to scramble on almost every drop back he takes. Through the adversity, Luck has done an exceptional job, passing for 1,469 yards and 10 touchdowns. Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton are helping the cause. Gore is averaging 4 yards per carry and Hilton has had 507 yards receiving this season. Regardless, the offense absolutely needs to improve around Luck, namely his blockers. The offense has to put up more points every time they step onto the field, because their defense is absolutely atrocious.
The Colts gave up 30 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If that sentence isn’t evidence enough of how dismal their defense is, I don’t know what would be. The squad can’t force turnovers. They have had one interception all season. Against interception-prone quarterbacks like Blake Bortles and Matt Stafford, the defense needs to step up. They also fail to get after the quarterback.
On the season they have seven sacks. Opposing quarterbacks have all the time in the world to pick apart their permeable secondary. The blame is not all on the players, however. The defense has been marred with injuries in the young season, and some of the players are starting to return. Before the beginning of the Bears game, the Colts had six significant defensive players, including Robert Mathis and Vontae Davis, listed as injured. The myriad of injuries has forced inexperienced and less talented players into significant defensive roles. With novice players and lack of ability comes underperformance, as we have seen with the Colts defense.
The suffering of the Colts can be traced back to the management. When Luck was drafted back in 2012, it was the job of the Colts’ front office to build a team around him. In the years following, they did little to help, and the effects are shining bright today. The porous offensive line and helpless defense are a result of poor draft day decision and questionable off-season moves.
Colts fans are calling for the head of Jim Irsay, the owner. Since Luck was drafted, the Colts have drafted eight offensive linemen. While that seems like management is making an effort, a majority of the linemen were selected in later rounds, where less talent is available. In fact, in 2015, the Colts did not select a single offensive lineman, instead spending their first round selection on Phillip Dorsett. Taken shortly after was offensive tackle Donovan Smith, who earned first team all-rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In an interview on NFL.com, former Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said, "I honestly think Andrew Luck's playing pretty good, despite some of the O-line woes that they're having."
"A lot of people are wanting to criticize Andrew Luck instead of really, in my opinion, going after what the big problem is. I think that big problem is a lot of the front office decisions. Whether it's draft picks or it is free-agent picks, they've missed on a lot of guys.”
Wayne is respected for his football mind, and his opinions are not to be taken lightly. As Wayne said, Luck is doing the best he can, but only so much can be done when the rest of the organization has failed him.