It has been a rough first quarter of the season for the Indianapolis Colts. As the team rounds the first corner of the season and becomes the first team to play a London game and not have a bye the next week, the drama from last season is starting to come back full force. Chuck Pagano can say everything is going to be fine until he is Colts Blue in the face, but the fans, the media, and the NFL public are getting restless waiting for results.
Well, after the London debacle, the Colts did let two key people go. Just not the two that fans were clamoring for.
In Chuck Pagano’s press conference on Wednesday, he said the moves were to do “what is best for this team and what gives us the best chance to win.”
Huh. That’s interesting considering the dearth of talent behind the two players cut in Sio Moore and Antonio Cromartie.
It’s possible to argue that Darius Butler finally returning to health makes Cro expendible, but the reality is that the last time Butler was on the field (with the exception of the interception that took him off the field), he was not playing any kind of irreplaceable, world beating defense.
Really, Moore is the more baffling cut. Who is going to take his spot and snaps?
His departure was partnered with the promotion of Trevor Bates off of the practice squad. Bates spent time with both the outside linebackers and the inside linebackers this season, though it seems like the coaches are seriously looking at him more inside now.
Pagano mentioned that it’ll be a combination of D’Qwell Jackson, Josh McNary, Antonio Morrison, Edwin Jackson, and now Trevor Bates at the two inside spots. Which is to say, he has no idea and is really hoping someone steps up and proves themselves worthy of a starting spot that has no owner.
One exciting option he did mention is Clayton Geathers playing more “down in the box”. In a sport where any time spent with your talented players on the sideline is wasted time, utilizing sub packages to get Geathers, Mike Adams, and TJ Green all on the field together more might be the smart choice. It allows the coaches to see what they have in these young players while making sure their talent stays on the field.
That being said, Pagano did seem a bit defensive about his nonexistent inside linebacking group. He cut off a question asking where the team is now after cutting a player who had played so many significant snaps in order to say that they are “in great shape” and he’s looking at it as “glass half-full”.
Which is fine. Nice to be positive. But sometimes Pagano’s positivity can lead to…
Delusions of Mediocrity
“We are really close” seems to be the mantra of the entire tenure of Pagano. It’s the mantra that convinced Irsay to keep him around.
They’re close. Why blow it up when they’re so close.
When asked how they fix the mental mistakes and how he can get his message to sink in to get players to stop doing foolish things, Pagano said: “If we practice well and we don’t do those things Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (then) they won’t happen on Sunday, period.”
Luck later echoed similar sentiments. “We practice well. We’ll play well.”
So, what does that mean, guys? That you haven’t been practicing well? It seems like every press conference begins with someone saying “we had a good practice today” so that’s either incorrect or delusional.
If you’re not practicing well and that results in not playing well on Sunday, then the blame has to fall somewhere, Chuck.
Pagano: “We have to be better”
Ok, so where do you start?
What can you do?
“You keep practicing.”
How about you, Luck. What say you?
“I want to say you play like you practice and obviously we weren’t practicing well enough that week.” (Referencing the Jaguars game.)
Me: *Glares at Chuck*
You just don’t get a sense from anyone in this organization that they think they’re doing anything wrong. There’s a thought that permeates the whole complex that says “we’ll be fine if we don’t change. Everything will go our way eventually.” It’s the kind of thought process that leads to the nonchalance on game day that results in lackluster performances against the likes of the Jaguars.
(Note to self, remember to stop making fun of the Jaguars until the Colts find a way to actually beat them again.)
This is clear in the massive verbal shrug given by Andrew Luck today when asked about dropped passes (“Mistakes happen, myself included very much so”) as well as in the following nauseating nonsense spouted by Pagano on keeping his players from getting frustrated:
“You know what I am going to say. You have to stick to the process. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what you have to do. Keep your blinders on and keep your ear muffs on. It is what it is.”
If that doesn’t sound like a coach that doesn’t understand that what he’s doing isn’t working, then I don’t know what does.
-Luck: “I don’t think we’ve only been successful running a hurry up offense. I think that’s not true. I think we can be good doing whatever we feel is best for this team.”
A lot of talk this week is surrounding the Colts tempo. Even Reggie Wayne has mentioned it on his twitter account. Luck just looks better in the no huddle offense. As CBS’s Pete Prisco pointed out on twitter: “Andrew Luck has throw n 69 of 166 passes in the fourth quarter. He also has 509 yards and 6 TD passes in the 4th, both league bests.” That says something. When the Colts are forced to let Luck loose.
Side stat from Prisco: Luck has only had 17 attempts with the lead this season. What.
-Jerrell Freeman on his departure from the Colts: “I was like, ‘Four years and that is how it is?’ It was take it or leave it and I was a couple weeks away from free agency so I tested free agency and it was pretty much a, ‘Good luck.’ You know what I mean? Even when I did get the Bears offer and we tried to go back to him, it was like, ‘Yeah, that looks like a good deal, take it.’ I was like, ‘Wow, I guess it’s over.’”
That’s brutal. That’s a clear lack of interest from the Colts who have yet to fill his vacated position. I don’t know if the Colts expected to get a top linebacking prospect in the draft or if they really thought Nate Irving and/or Sio Moore could fill the void, but they were painfully wrong.
Freeman was complete class as the media tried to prod something critical out of him. Defending Andrew Luck, commenting on how he keeps in contact with some of the guys, detailing some of the moments he remembers. It’s hard not to miss Freeman the man as much as Freeman the player.
–Mike Tanier on Bleacher Report: “Head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson were the spoiled teenagers who were handed the keys to a custom hot rod on their birthdays five years ago.”
I’m ok being the five millionth person to tell you to read this. It’s tough to swallow, but worth the pain. It’s the best writeup of the Colts that is out there right now.
–The AP’s Michael Marot: “During a telecast Tuesday night, Wayne said he thought the Colts’ struggles were largely a result of the front office on free agents and draft picks.”
No one in the Colts locker room would comment on this, because, well, why would they? As for me, I’m going to side with Reggie Wayne. Especially because of this:
All quotes courtesy of the Colts PR Department unless otherwise noted.