INDIANAPOLIS – Simply, pathetic. And unacceptable.
The Colts were obliterated on Sunday in Jacksonville, losing 24-0 and continuing a now 8-year drought of winning away from home against the Jaguars.
Here is what we learned from the Colts falling to 0-1-1 on the year:
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
1. Behind The 8-Ball Again: Let’s first focus here on the win/loss result from Sunday. The Colts are now 0-1-1, missing out on golden road chances to start this season. Honestly, the only saving grace at this point is the Colts play in the worst division in football. We will get more into this below, but let’s think back on the Colts last 3 games and the performances Frank Reich’s teams have had in those contests. In losses/tie to the Jaguars, Texans and Jaguars, the Colts have entered the 4th quarters of those 3 contests trailing by a combined score of 70-6. With a playoff berth on the line in last year’s season finale, an 8-year Week 1 drought last week and a 7-year winless run in Jacksonville, Reich’s Colts have been owned by the AFC South basement dwellers for 11 of those 12 quarters. That’s inexcusable. And it has the Colts once again well behind the 8-ball to start another season, entering one of toughest stretches of the season. If the Colts were in any other division, it’d be time to focus on 2023 Mock Drafts.
2. Loss Of Michael Pittman Obvious: No one should have been shocked to see the Colts wideout group look like that on Sunday. It’s why I had Michael Pittman as the most indispensable colts player entering this season. The receiver group is one of the worst in the NFL and the entire league is seeing that. On Sunday, you had a huge third-down drop from Dezmon Patmon. You also had a critical pre-snap penalty on Mike Strachan, which put the Colts behind the chains and led to another punt. Parris Campbell’s first note in the box score was an offensive pass interference in the fourth quarter. The group had 1 catch in the first 28 minutes of the game, as the Jaguars just feasted in stopping the Colts run game, knowing the lack of a challenge coming from the Colts passing game. Stubbornness in addressing this position was seen all offseason long. And the ramifications of that were felt on Sunday as the Jaguars stifled the Colts on the perimeter. A lack of support for Matt Ryan was a concern entering the season. We’ve seen why two weeks in. Any talk on Sunday about the Jaguars overpaying for Christian Kirk or Evan Engram? Nope, just the Jaguars knowing the value of the pass catching positions and supporting their QB.
3. Heavy Investments Failing: Anyone could have predicted the wideout group being an issue this season, especially when Michael Pittman is sidelined. But how about the major core beliefs of Chris Ballard being nowhere near the strengths he expects them to be? The offensive line continues to no longer be an elite group. The very questionable Matt Pryor experiment at left tackle has been shaky. And the unit is having massive issues in establishing the line of scrimmage for Jonathan Taylor. Defensively, the pass rush has been library quiet in the first two games of the season. Again, questions about Ballard’s roster building are totally fair. He believes though in investing seriously into the trenches. The returns have been minuscule to start this season. Speaking of heavy investments, Sunday was not good for Matt Ryan, Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue.
4. New Defensive Scheme, Same Story: Trevor Lawrence has to be counting down the days to when he gets to see the Colts again this season. Even with a new defensive scheme from Gus Bradley, Lawrence found early rhythm and had a stress-free day from there. Just like in last year’s season finale, the below average passer that Lawrence is had a perfect opening touchdown drive (8-of-8 last year, 7-of-7 this year) against Indianapolis. Lawrence ended the day with arguably the best game of his career, with last year’s win over Indy being right up there, too. Lawrence had 5 incompletions on Sunday, and 2 were drops. There was no semblance of the “more pressing” coverage defense we had heard from Bradley this offseason. The pass rush was non-existent in moving Lawrence of his spot. Hell, Lawrence was 57 percent in a Week 1 loss of this season. Yet, the Colts under Bradley allowed Lawrence to gain early confidence and the rest was history. Blame for such a pitiful loss is everywhere, as the Colts were shutout for the first time in a game since 2018 (which also took place in Jacksonville).
5. The Seat Must Get Hotter: As I said numerous times entering this season, the seats for Chris Ballard and Frank Reich need to be rising in temperature. Results matter. And the results haven’t been acceptable to this point. If the owner was irate as he was leaving Jacksonville last January, imagine where he’s at right now. Jim Irsay has just watched his organization get manhandled in consecutive meetings with the Jaguars and dominated for 3 quarters in the opener against the Texans. So, how does Irsay feel about his pairing of Chris Ballard and Frank Reich? Are they living up to the handsome contract extensions he oddly handed them last August? I always thought Irsay’s leash was mighty long on these two. But how does this start to such a critical season not send a message to the Owner that some accountability is desperately needed for the current leaders of the Colts? Ballard and Reich should unquestionably be on a hot seat after such putrid end to last season and an uglier start to this campaign.
-Injury Report: The following Colts got hurt on Sunday and did not return: No one.
-Key Stat: The two best passer ratings of Trevor Lawrence’s career have come against the Colts. On Sunday, Lawrence was 25-of-30 for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 121.5.
-What’s Next: The Colts will have their home opener next Sunday at 1:00. It’ll be the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) coming to Lucas Oil Stadium in Week Three.