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The Sports Daily > Colts Authority
Just When Things Were Looking Up

Editor’s note: Please welcome Jim Osborne, formerly of The Examiner (a fine site when it was up and running) for a guest editorial-type post. You can find Jim on Twitter, and I recommend that you do, at @jimosborne45 – MD

For the most part, things were looking up for the Indianapolis Colts. They finally managed to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season (sandwiched around the bye week), and the Houston Texans had predictably lost to the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. They still weren’t out of the woods by a long shot. However things were starting to come together in Indianapolis for the first time in this 2016 season.

Things were starting to break so well that even the most optimistic Colts fan had to have a nagging thought in the back of his/her mind that maybe, just maybe, they were going too well. Yesterday afternoon, word surfaced that both Andrew Luck and Clayton Geathers were in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Colts coach Chuck Pagano believed that Luck suffered his concussion sometime in the fourth quarter, and pointed to the 4th and 1 stop of DeMarco Murray as the source for Geathers’ injury.

Given the tight turnaround for the Colts as they prepare to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night, this essentially rules both players out of the game.

Football is still a brutal sport, despite all of the rules and protections that the NFL has enacted recently in the name of player safety. There is no point in trying to assess blame for a concussion, even if we could point to the exact play on which Luck was hurt. Take your pick, as Luck was sacked twice and hit ten times. Ed Rooney would have a field day with those kind of numbers.

What we can do, however, is revisit a mandate made by Colts owner Jim Irsay several times in recent years.

Irsay demanded that Andrew Luck be protected, as his young cornerstone has absorbed more hits and sacks than should be allowed by law over his brief NFL career. Despite free agent misses, several draft picks, a new offensive line guru and tons of lip service from Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, Luck is still the most frequently sacked QB in the NFL thus far in the 2016 season. Cleveland QBs have been sacked 38 times in 11 games, however the Colts still lead the league in sacks per game, having played just 10 games with Luck dropped 35 times. Yes fans, the Colts lead the league in one category.

Grigson and Pagano condemnation is not new. Offensive line condemnation is not new. In fact, nothing about this is new, and that’s the problem. Joe Philbin, Ryan Kelly, Joe Haeg and all the Paganoisms in the world have not solved the one glaring area that Ryan Grigson cannot seem to fix. The complete failure to build an offensive line will be Ryan Grigson’s legacy. His fubar.

No GM is perfect. Countless articles have been written to point out all of the misses and mistakes by Grigson through the draft, free agency, and trades. In this case, I wonder if we’re not missing the forest through the trees.

Five years is an eternity in the NFL. The current state of this team is one of paper thin depth at several critical positions, the lack of game changers (particularly on the defensive side of the ball) and baffling inconsistency from quarter to quarter, let alone game to game.

The most damning thing about Chuck Pagano’s tenure might be the simple fact that his team has to have their backs pressed firmly and squarely against the wall before they play well. Even then, they cannot sustain a 60 minute effort and rely far too much on their quarterback to play at MVP level every game in order to even have a chance to win within their division.

No lead is safe with Chuck Pagano. In fact, the only blowouts his team participates in are the bad kind, of which we have seen far too often.

I don’t think we need to rehash all the maddening characteristics of this regime. Let’s stay big picture and look at the one simple mandate handed down from the owner.

The Ryan Grigson/Chuck Pagano Colts have failed miserably to protect Andrew Luck. Let us not forget the play calling of Rob Chudzinsky, who continues to dial up five and seven step drops despite seeing his QB frequently mobbed to a level that would make Black Friday crowds blush.

A lacerated kidney, torn abdominal muscle, nagging right shoulder concern and now a concussion. It’s actually amazing that this is Luck’s first NFL concussion given all the punishment he’s absorbed.

If this is Grigano’s answer to the mandate that Luck be protected, then we have to shudder to think what they’ll do next season (and yes, they will both return, as somehow the Colts will wind up winning the AFC South) when Jim Irsay really means business when he says that Luck must be protected.

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