INDIANAPOLIS – Thank the lord the NFL’s national TV audience won’t have to see the Colts (4-10-1) again this season.
Monday had the Colts putting up another stinker of an offensive effort, losing at home, 20-3, to the LA Chargers.
Here is what was learned from the Colts losing a 5th straight game:
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
1. Offense Offers No Support: So much of this 2022 season for the Colts can be summed up by the defense quite often doing its part, and the offense not even sniffing complementary football. Monday night marked the 8th time this season the Colts have scored 1 offensive touchdown or less in a game. It was the second time this season they failed to convert a single third-down (0-for-10 on Monday). For such long stretches on Monday night, the Colts defense did its part. Halting drives in the red zone, keeping an explosive away from breaking this game open and even creating a golden second-half scoring opportunity with a strip of Justin Herbert. And what did the Colts offense do to complement its defense? Score 3 points. Tres. Three more than another shutout (thank you, Chase McLaughlin). And the exact number of interceptions also thrown by the Colts on Monday. It was yet another embarrassing performance, particularly on offense, by a franchise which used to be the gold standard for that side of the ball in the NFL. The Indy defense hasn’t been perfect in 2022, but that group, coupled with the special teams, hasn’t been anywhere near 4-10-1 bad this season. It’s the offense that has defined putrid and been a horrific product to watch, no matter who is playing quarterback, no matter who is calling plays, no matter who is making up the offensive line.
2. What Has Jeff Saturday Done? One of the harder aspects to the close to this season is how do you properly evaluate Jeff Saturday. His football team is now 1-5 under him, having lost 5 straight, and having been outscored 90-9 in the fourth quarter. Do those results matter? Do they matter to Jim Irsay? Of course, as Saturday would point out, what honestly could have he implemented, as he was thrown into a less than advantageous situation when he took over as interim in early November. So do the results not matter for him, like they might for Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks, who will make the playoffs with wins in their last two games. But look at the Texans right now (getting a road win over the Titans) or even the Rams over the weekend (blasting the Broncos with their third different quarterback)? Even those teams with terrible records are doing something of note in the month of December. The Colts have, seemingly, played worse the longer Saturday has been at the helm. Should this be a reflection of him? Should it be more of a reflection of Chris Ballard and the roster? While acknowledging the difficult situation Saturday signed up for, his arrival has not impacted this team in a positive win/loss light at all. Not even close. The Colts were 3-5-1 with Frank Reich. They are 1-5 with Jeff Saturday. While the defensive and special teams units (led by Gus Bradley and Bubba Ventrone, respectively) continue to play good enough, the offense (where Jeff Saturday was consulting and is spending the vast majority of his time) remains horrid.
3. Just Go With Sam Ehlinger: So much for any switch at quarterback sparking things. Nick Foles was awful on Monday night. Sure, he challenged a few more balls down the field, but it didn’t lead to anymore success. Foles tossed 3 interceptions, with countless timing issues, which was to be expected given this was his first week working with the starting offense all season long. Really, Foles should have been benched in Monday’s 2nd half. He was a statue (sacked 7 times) unable to do anything with the ariel attack. His 31.9 passer rating was the third worst of his 57-start career. It’s time to go back to Sam Ehlinger for the final two games of the season. And one could easily argue that’s the best move for the long-term, and short-term. Although (cue the ‘sigh’ music), Jeff Saturday said after the game the plan is to stick with Foles for the final two games of the season. Probably the smartest thing the Colts did this week at quarterback wasn’t just benching Matt Ryan, it was having him not even be the backup on Monday night (Ryan was inactive as the 3rd quarterback). That kept Ryan away from the possibility of playing, exposing him to injury and the potential for him to earn an additional of $17 million. Watching Monday’s quarterback performance between Foles and Herbert was a reminder of how dire the Colts situation is at quarterback, while the AFC is littered with young, talented signal callers, in every single division.
4. Jim Irsay’s Thoughts As Draft Order Rises: Following the Vikings game, Jim Irsay sat down with ESPN for a 1-on-1 interview that aired prior to the coverage of Monday Night Football. In it, Irsay continued to be steadfast Chris Ballard will return as GM in 2023 and that Jeff Saturday will be a ‘competitive’ head coaching candidate when the full-time interview process rolls around. Does another embarrassing performance, again on national television, alter any of Irsay’s thinking? With Monday’s loss, the Colts will enter the final two weeks of the season 5th in the draft order. They moved up a spot in Week 16 with the Rams beating the Broncos. With playoff elimination here for the Colts, full attention should be on the draft order standings each week. At 4-10-1, the Colts have clinched a top-10 draft pick for 2023, and are on track to be in the top-5.
5. Watching The Playoffs Again: With this past week’s results, the Colts were officially eliminated from the playoffs (that occurred when Jacksonville won on Thursday night). The beautiful gift of AFC South ineptness has finally gone away for the Colts. It marks the 6th time in 8 years the Colts will watch the postseason. That’s the worst stretch for the franchise in some 25 years. The division drought is now 8 years long. That’s the worst drought for the Colts in about 30 years. Jim Irsay has never sniffed these droughts in his time as Colts Owner. So, how does Irsay react? He’s already fired Frank Reich. How does he view Chris Ballard’s role over the last 6 years of an era more known for seasons not meeting preseason expectations than anything else? That’s what Irsay must ask himself over the next few weeks as he faces major questions once the final gun goes off against Houston in Week 18.
-Injury Report: The following Colts were INACTIVE on Monday: TE-Kylen Granson (ankle), CB-Kenny Moore (ankle), B-Matt Ryan, LB-Cameron McGrone, OL-Wesley French, DT-Chris Williams. These Colts got hurt on Monday and did not return: WR-Ashton Dulin (concussion), CB-Isaiah Rodgers Sr. (knee)
–Key Stat: Monday marked the second time this season the Colts have failed to convert a third-down in a game this season (0-for-14 on 3rd down against New England).
–What’s Next: The Colts (4-10-1) will have a short week now, traveling to take on the Giants this Sunday at 1:00 PM. The Colts have 2 games remaining: at Giants, Texans.
Anthony Richardson Faces Major Questions In NFL Transition
Gardner Minshew Shares First Impressions Of Anthony Richardson
Colts OTA Notebook Week 1: Anthony Richardson Impresses Shane Steichen
Colts Looking A Lot Different At Cornerback With JuJu Brents
Does Michael Pittman Deserve Contract Extension This Offseason?
Colts Really Need Second-Year Jump From Bernhard Raimann
Is Josh Downs Ideal Complement To Colts Wide Receivers?
Trackside with Curt Cavin & Kevin Lee