In honor of the Colts playing (and getting embarrassed) in London, I decided to include a bit of British history into this week’s report card. I promise there’s a point to all of this, so bear with me.
For centuries, the key to imposing one’s will on the rest of the world was domination of the world’s shipping lanes with large, lumbering battleships built to slug it out with other large, lumbering ships. When World War II broke out in September 1939, the British Empire possessed the largest and most technologically advanced navy the world had ever seen. Unfortunately for the British, the nature of naval warfare had changed in the years leading up to the Second World War. Rather than try to fight Great Britain on the ocean’s surface, a battle it wasn’t equipped to win, Germany turned to submarine warfare.
The British Admiralty, old and stubborn, believed submarine warfare to be a fad that was not to be taken seriously. This proved a grave mistake for the British Empire. Germany’s submarine fleet, even in it’s infancy, devastated British supply ships. The British foolishly allowed their merchant ships to sail the Atlantic ocean unprotected. The Admiralty believed that any effort to protect these ships would weaken their prized surface fleet. As a result, Germany’s submarines sent the ships carrying the food and goods Great Britain desperately needed to survive to the bottom of the ocean faster than they could be replaced.
It was not until Great Britain was on the brink of starvation that the Admiralty came to the realization that the old ways no longer worked and began employing protective escorts for merchant ships. Great Britain continued to lose ships, but they gave themselves a fighting chance and survived.*
So what does any of this have to do with the Colts and their 30-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday?
The Indianapolis Colts got sunk. Again.
If you’ve watched enough Colts games during the Chuck Pagano era, you know that any time this team takes the field there’s a solid chance they’ll get blown out of the water. It’s absurd. The Colts sleepwalked through the first half of Sunday’s game and for the millionth time faced a double-digit deficit. For the millionth time they almost overcame it. Why? Because when they get down by enough points the Colts implement the hurry-up offense, and it works!
Sunday’s game was a disaster, but when the Colts went up-tempo they actually resembled a functioning football team. The Jaguars defense was on it’s heels and appeared to be totally disorganized. For a brief moment in time, it looked like the Colts could win. Everyone, except for the stubborn old Admiral Pagano, has spent what seems like forever scratching their heads and wondering why the Colts don’t go up-tempo at the start of games. The answer is that Pagano thinks lumbering offenses are still the most effective way to win football games. This was true for a long time in the NFL, but no longer. He subscribes to the foolish belief that an up-tempo offense is too much of a detriment to his prized (and terrible) defense. Furthermore, this team simply isn’t built to play the way Pagano wants them to play. He wants the Colts to fight a way they’re not equipped to fight. His refusal to acknowledge this and abandon the ways of the past has had a devastating effect on the Colts’ ability to win football games.
The Indianapolis Colts are a flawed team, they’re going to lose games. When they decide to open things up and go up-tempo, however, they at least give themselves a fighting chance. Refusing to make such an adjustment is nothing short of incompetence on Chuck Pagano’s part.
This season is taking on water fast. Colts fans are starving to watch their team play competent football. If Pagano won’t change, and I don’t think he will, it’s time for him to be relieved of his command.
*This is, admittedly, a vast oversimplification of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Special teams: A